Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii)
The Boyd’s Forest Dragon is a species of tree-dwelling lizard found in dense rainforests in the wet, tropical regions of Far North Queensland, from just north of Townsville to near Cooktown. It is part of the Agamidae family, meaning it is a relative of the iguana.
Most Boyd’s Forest Dragons are olive brown or grey, while some individuals can be partially green. They have very large cheek scales, a deep mustard yellow pouch beneath their jaw line, and two crests: a nuchal crest (on the neck) and a dorsal crest (along the backbone).
The males are larger than females and can grow to about 48.5 centimetres in length including their long tail. The females grow to a full length of only 42 centimetres.
Boyd’s Forest Dragons spend most of their time perched on the trunks of trees, although they can cover more than 100 metres in a single day on the ground. The males have a home range of around 1,000 square metres, while the females have a slighter smaller range.
They are sit-and-wait predators, using their position on a tree trunk to launch an attack on any prey they see from their perch. Once on the ground, they will continue the hunt. Their diet consists primarily of invertebrates, with earthworms & ants being their particular favorite food. They have also been observed eating small fruits that have dropped on the ground.
The Boyd’s Forest Dragon has a number of predators lurking in the rainforest, including Grey Goshawks and feral pigs. The forest dragon relies on its excellent camouflage to escape predators and will usually stay very still, only moving when it is certain it has been sighted. It protects itself by sliding around to the other side of the tree, putting the tree between itself and a potential threat.
Unlike most other lizards, Boyd’s Forest Dragons don’t bask in the sun. Instead, the let their body temperature fluctuate with the air temperature, which is known as ‘thermoconforming’. They typically begin activity and dawn and end at dusk, remaining busy even when it rains. During the cooler months their activity all but ceases and they have even been spotted escaping the cold winter in the holes of tree trunks.
They reproduce by laying clutches of eggs, with a typical clutch containing 4-6 eggs. Some females may lay more than one clutch in a season. The eggs take a little more than three months to incubate. The lizards mature at 1-3 years of age and are believed to live for about 5 to 10 years.
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