Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii)
One of the most remarkable residents of the Daintree Rainforest is the beautiful Boyd’s Forest Dragon and summer is the time for the breeding season to commence.
These lovely reptiles can only be found in the dense rainforests of Tropical North Queensland up along the north-east coast of Australia. They are a medium sized lizard with a body length of around 15cm and a tail usually measuring around 30cm. Dragons are members of the Agamidae family which also includes the Iguana*.
Despite the Boyd’s Forest Dragon’s jewel like appearance, bright colouring and relatively large size, they are masters of cryptic camouflage.
During the day they cling closely to the trunks of slender trees, usually around head height, keeping an eye out for passing prey. They are still and silent and blend into their surrounding so well that it is possible to be standing right next to a dragon and simply not see it unless you know exactly what to look for. Their diet consists mainly of insects.
An interesting fact about the Boyd’s Forest Dragon is that unlike many reptiles, they are thermoconformers. They do not require the sun’s heat to warm up their bodies, rather they allow their temperature to fluctuate and adapt to the ambient temperature. In a dense rainforest it is not always possible to find constant, direct sunlight so these amazing creatures have evolved to work around that need.
The first storms and rains of “The Wet” are usually the signal for the Boyd’s Forest Dragons to begin their breeding season. This is the time when the females often do seek out a little sunshine as it is said that the extra warmth helps the development of the young within the gravid female.
Just one to six eggs are produced in each clutch, they are laid in small nests on the forest floor, and will take about three months to incubate.
The young will take a year or two to mature and can expect to live for up to 10 years.
So, if seeing a real life Dragon sounds like fun, come on up and visit us in the Daintree Rainforest. It’s a land as old as the dinosaurs and it never stops surprising.
*An interesting story…did you know that the Goanna, another iconic rainforest lizard, gets its name from the Iguana. The early explorers assumed that it was the same creature and this alternative pronunciation just stuck.