While dragons are something of fairy tales, that does not stop people from wishing they could see one in person. That might not be possible, but there are plenty of animal species to discover that are just as interesting and fearsome as the well-known mythological dragons. Let’s take a quick look at examples of 10 animals that are like dragons in one way or another.
10 Animals Like Dragons
There are 10 types of animals found around the world that closely resemble the dragons found in various myths and fairy tales.
1. Komodo Dragon
Scientific name: Varanus komodoensis
How are they like dragons: They are ruthless, and meat-eating hunters.
The largest lizard in the world, the Komodo Dragon, also happens to be one of the animals most like the mythical creature they were named for. This massive reptile has a fearsome appearance, with the ability to reach 10 feet long.
Komodo Dragons have stocky legs, thick tails, and a large mouth full of sharp teeth. These teeth are used for ripping apart prey or attacking predators. These bites are venomous, and can prove fatal to people.
2. Bearded Dragon
Scientific name: Pogona
How are they like dragons: They have a spiky appearance similar to mythical dragons, hence the name.
Bearded dragons are small reptiles that thrive in warm and dry environments, and have also become a popular pet. This is due to their docile nature, and relatively simple handling and feeding requirements.
Bearded dragons are similar to the mythical dragon due to their appearance, and like the Komodo Dragon, this is where their name comes from. There are small spikes along their neck, as well as down their sides, which can be useful in keeping away predators.
3. Marine Iguana
Scientific name: Amblyrhynchus cristatus
How are they like dragons: They have rough scales, spikes along their back, and sharp claws
The only marine lizard in the world is the Marine Iguana, and these massive reptiles have an appearance that makes them look like dragons from mythology. They can be black or dark green, with rough scales and spikes running down the length of their back.
They also have long and sharp claws, capable of tearing apart algae or defending them against threats. These marine reptiles prefer to eat algae as the main part of their diet.
Even though they can’t breathe underwater, they can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes at a time.
4. American Alligator
Scientific name: Alligator mississippiensis
How are they like dragons: Scaly appearance, huge jaws and teeth, powerful tail.
One of the animals that might most closely resemble what a mythical dragon looks like is the American Alligator. This massive reptile has a spiked and scaly appearance, and can only be seen in regions of the United States.
Their powerful tail is useful for swimming through water, and attacking prey or predators. Their wide, large, snout and huge teeth make it easy for American Alligators to take down nearly anything they set their sites on.
Scientific name: Scincidae
How are they like dragons: Long, pointed tail and long tongue
Skinks are lizards with a similar appearance to dragons. Many species are seen with long tails, colorful patterning, and snake-like tongues.
These creatures are commonly spotted in the wilds of North America, Asia, and other regions, and have also become a well-known pet choice. In the wild they can be found burrowing underground for shelter.
6. Chinese Water Dragon
Scientific name: Physignathus cocincinus
How are they like dragons: green and spiky appearance
The Chinese water dragon has become a popular pet in many regions, but it can be found in the wild in Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Cambodia. They thrive near areas of fresh water, like creeks and lakes, and are great at swimming and diving.
These reptiles can stay underwater for up to 90 minutes at a time. The green and spike appearance is what makes these animals like dragons, and is also where the common name derived from.
7. Green Moray Eel
Scientific name: Gymnothorax funebris
How are they like dragons: sharp teeth, massive jaws, fearsome appearance
Green Moray eels are found in the Atlantic Ocean, and have a ferocious appearance that resembles a dragon. They have massive jaws, and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Despite the name, these creatures are actually brown but covered in algae.
The flattened body of this eel makes it look like a terrifying sea serpent.
8. Armadillo Girdled Lizard
Scientific name: Ouroborus cataphractus
How are they like dragons: sharp, spiked appearance
If you find yourself in the desert regions of South Africa, then you might spot a small lizard that looks a lot like the dragons from fairy tales. The Armadillo Girdled Lizard rolls into a ball to protect itself from predators with it’s armor. It has a tough spikey appearance to keep them safe.
As adults, this lizard will only be around three inches long. They can be kept as pets, but it is rare to come across one of these reptiles in captivity.
9. Chinese Alligator
Scientific name: Alligator sinensis
How are they like dragons: similar appearance, that to have inspired Asian dragon myths
It is believed depictions of the Asian dragons in mythology came from the Chinese alligator. These reptiles can reach six feet long, and are covered in rough, pointed scales. Chinese alligators prefer to float right below the water, and take their prey by surprise.
These large reptiles are classified as endangered, and are the most endangered of any other reptile species.
10. Draco Lizard
Scientific name: Draco volans
How are they like dragons: bright appearance and ability to fly
Another name for the Draco Lizard is flying dragon lizard. These small lizards can be seen in varying colors of blue, orange, red, green, and brown, and can fly with ease. Draco Lizards reach a little over eight inches long, and in the wild are typically seen in trees.
While the Draco lizard does not have an appearance typical to mythological dragons, their flying skills make them more like dragons than many other types of reptiles.
It might not be possible to experience a dragon in real life, but these ten animals have a close resemblance to the mythological creature. From the American and Chinese alligators to marine iguanas and green moray eels, there are plenty of animal species around the globe that are like dragons.