Photo of the Month: Boyd’s forest dragon

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Boyd's forest dragon; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Boyd’s forest dragon; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: The Boyd’s forest dragon (Hypsilurus boydii) has not been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Though it is often seen in its home range, like all rainforest creatures, this lizard is threatened by habitat loss and human development.

Habitat: This diurnal forest dragon can only be found in the remaining patches of tropical rainforest in northeast Queensland, Australia. It spends most of its time perching vertically on tree trunks, using its superb camouflage to escape predators and ambush prey.

Diet: Forest dragons primarily eat insects and other invertebrates including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and earthworms. They have been seen occasionally eating some small fruits.

A medium-sized lizard, the Boyd’s forest dragon has a head and body length of about six inches and a tail that adds approximately another twelve inches to total length. Adult male forest dragons are typically bigger than adult females and can be distinguished by their larger, blockier heads.

Both sexes have a large, yellow dewlap below their chins which they can erect using a bone called the hyoid. The dewlap is used for displaying to each other and to scare off predators.

The Boyd’s forest dragon is new to the Los Angeles Zoo collection; the two juvenile dragons on exhibit arrived from Australia this summer and now reside in the Damp Forest section of the LAIR.