Encounter – Draco dussumieri, master of camouflage

If your guide points to nothing on the bark of a tree, you can be sure you’re looking at (but not seeing) Draco dussumieri, the Southern Flying Lizard!

I came across this miracle of nature towards the fag end of my supposedly “spend-time-with-family” trip to BR Hills. At the Jungle Lodges camp, I was about to return to my room after breakfast when our safari jeep driver called out to me. He pointed to something on a tree, saying it was a Southern Flying Lizard (Draco dussumieri).

Can you spot the lizard?

Well, I looked at four tree trunks over and over for a couple of minutes before I could spot it. There it sat on the tree trunk closest to me, and there was absolutely no way I would have spotted it had it not been pointed out.

On the dull, ash-brown coloured trunk, interspersed with mottled lichen patches, I could make out a basilisk foot… As my eyes traced out the borders, I could slowly spot the other leg, the body and the tail. The head was the toughest to decipher from the background.

And now?

I changed my vantage point and tried a lateral perspective but I was amazed to find that so pressed was the lizard to the trunk that barely an outline was visible that would betray its presence. I waited to see if it would display its marvellous tree-to-tree glide, without luck. But in the end I considered myself lucky to have had such a good look at this amazing reptile!

Text and photos by Sandeep Somasekharan

Further reading:
Southern Flying Lizard on Wikipedia and the Reptile Database

Sandy

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