20 Lizards That Are Real-Life Dragons In Disguise

We have scaled the earth to find these phenomenal lizards that look like dragons!

Published March 25, 2024

While you may think that these are just mythical creatures from fairy tales and folklore, we're here to tell you that dragons DO exist! Just not in the fire-breathing varieties. Let's take a trip around the globe for a closer look at the lizards that look like dragons, and possess some of their magical and mesmerizing qualities.

Dragon-Lizards At a Glance


Lizards are just plain cool, but these varieties hit different. You can almost picture them breathing fire! Scroll on for more details and pics of these amazing creatures.



These mini dragons are small, but mighty—Dracos are lizards that can fly 100 feet in a single leap. This is thanks to their retractable ribs and the folds of skin that lay discretely against their body. Native to southeast Asia, these leaping lizards are very territorial, just like the dragons we see in movies, making them unsuitable as pets, but really cool creatures to see in the wild. 

The name Draco is quite fitting! It translates to "dragon" or "serpent" in Greek.

Komodo Dragons


Komodo dragons are the world's closest living creatures to cinema's Smaug. They're the largest lizards on Earth, reaching over ten feet in length. These giants are also extremely territorial and they tend to keep to themselves. Sound familiar?

While these real-life dragons can't fly, they can run at a whopping 12 mph. For comparison, a human man would be dragon at a mere eight. And while they don't spit fire when threatened, their bite is one that kills. This is thanks to the venom that "prevents their prey’s blood from clotting, which causes massive blood loss and induces shock." 

That split tongue also gives off a sinister vibe and these dragon lizards can throw down. 

Did we mention that the females can reproduce without a mate? That last part was just a tail we thought was worth talon!



Every Harry Potter fan remembers the dragon-like serpent who terrorized the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Who knew that there was a real life lizard that shares this fictional monster's name! 

The baslisk may not be a real-life dragon, but it certainly shares some of these fabled lizard's magical qualities. For one, it can run on water! This is both an astonishing and terrifying sight, especially when they are on the larger size of up to three feet. 

Let's also not forget those piericng eyes and striking crest on the top of their head, both features one would expect to see in a dragon. This makes for a pretty cool lizard!

Fast Fact

In Greek mythology, the basilisk was depicted as a winged reptile with a serpent tongue and a bird-like beak. 

Frill Necked Lizards


Jurassic Park fans are sure to have some flashbacks when looking eye-to-eye with this fierce creature! Frill-necked lizards look like a version of the Dilophosaurus, just in an extremely miniature form.

This dragon-looking lizard can run on its hind legs, like the basilisk, however, it seems a bit less threatening when you see him run from the side. In fact, his bicycle legs make his sprint look quite silly. Nonetheless, just like with a dragon, I'd likely still run if he came barreling towards me!

Fast Fact

The frill on this cool lizard only expands when it opens its mouth

Satanic Leaf-Tailed Geckos


While the name of this little guy is fit for a dragon and his eyes seem to sear into your soul, this leaf-like lizard only gets to be about 3.5 inches long. Don't get us wrong, they're known for their screams when threatened, which can be a bit startling.

Since every dragon appears to become very vocal upon the arrival of a prince, it only seems fitting to include this master of disguise on our list of real-life dragons.

Thorny Devil Dragons


Minus the wings, the Thorny Devil Dragon gives off quite the Hungarian Horntail feel. Harry Potter fans will know what I'm talking about! While these cool lizards only reach about 20 cm in length, I would want to avoid touching them at all costs. Like a dragon, they are covered in sharp spikes to deter possible threats and they can change colors to hide amongst their surroundings!

Fast Fact

While these are adorable micro-dragons, they do not make good pets. They only eat small ants and they consume thousands of them a day - not something that a home terrarium can accommodate.

Rhinoceros Iguanas


Talk about a dragon! Rhinoceros iguanas certainly look like fire-breathing monsters. From their pointed crest that extends across their backs to their heavy horned heads, these large lizards seem like the stuff of nightmares. 

Ironically though, they are generally docile creatures, once they get to know you. What this means is that they can be good pets. However, they are endangered, so at this time, it's best to leave them in their natural habitats with the hope that they can get back to a good population status. 

Need to Know

If you do come across one of these dragon looking lizards who needs a home, keep in mind that they get quite large—reaching up to 4.5 feet in length.

Jackson's Chameleons


Okay, okay, we know that a chameleon and a dragon typically wouldn't fit in the same category of lizard, but take a second to think about Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon! He was a gentle dude and so is the Jackson's chameleon!

We would also like to point out the rhinoceros-style horns that this cool lizard has and the fact that like a dragon, this little guy can disappear into his environment by changing colors. 

Sailfin Dragons


This is another dragon-looking lizard that most people would be a little nervous around if they encountered him in the wild! Sailfin dragons definitely live up to that dragon name thanks to their intricately patterned faces, large, sail-like dorsal crest, and mysterious color-changing rainbow scales.

This makes them seem unapproachable, but they're actually quite timid. However, this type of cool lizard should not be kept as a pet. They are highly targeted by poachers and their species is listed as vulnerable. 

Mexican Beaded Lizards


Large and venomous, with a serpent-like tongue, Mexican beaded lizards have the look of a dragon and their bite will certainly make it feel like you're on fire! While the venom is typically non-lethal, there is no anti-venom available and symptoms include "pain, edema, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and diaphoresis."

They can also get to just under three feet in length and they are very strong creatures. In other words, maybe leave these guys in the wild where they belong!

Gila Monsters


Noyou're not seeing double! The Gila monster is a relative of the Mexican beaded lizard. While smaller than their Mexican cousins, the Gila is listed as the largest lizard in the United States, getting to lengths of just below two feet. Like a dragon, this is another venomous reptile.

More importantly, don't let his size fool you. Gila monsters rarely bite, but if they feel threatened and chomp down, "they may need to be forcibly disengaged from their victims."

Did we also mention that these are nocturnal lizards that look like dragons? In other words, if you plan to go for an evening stroll in Arizona, make sure your prince charming is on call for the knight time hours!

Mertens Water Monitors


The Mertens water monitor is another dragon-like lizard that has a venomous bite. Not only that but as their name implies, these guys are good swimmers, making them quite the surprise guest if you plan to go for a dip in Australia!


One on one with a Mertens’ water monitor!

♬ original sound - Robert Irwin

As Robert Irwin notes in the video, these reptiles have very sharp teeth and are eager to bite if they perceive something as food, making them another unsuitable pet.

Red Eyed Crocodile Skinks


If you are looking for more lizards that look like dragons, red eyed crocodile skinks are adorable mini monsters! They only get between seven and nine inches long, but their triangular heads, highlighted eyes, and crocodile skin give them a dragon-like vibe.

Need to Know

This is another species that is not conducive to life as a pet. They're very skittish, they stress easily, and they do not like to be handled.

Bearded Dragons


Bearded dragons are another dazzling dragon-ish lizard, but unlike the other creatures on our list, this little guy makes a spectacular pet! Their triangular head and spiky "beard" make them look a little menacing, but they love to be held and their personalities can be quite fun.  

Related: Dazzling Dragon Names

Madagascar Fringed Leaf-tail Gecko


Yes, like the chameleon, geckos are anything but dragon-like in nature, but when it comes to appearances, if you were to only look at this little guy's eyes, you might feel a bit nervous. Not only do they have a dragon-like gaze, but they are also carnivores. However, thanks to their small size, only snails and other insects need to worry about being eaten by this little dragon!

Peter's Rock Agama


If you get the chance to see a Peter's rock agama, get ready to be dazzled by this lizard that looks like a dragon! Their vibrant colors will draw you in and their keeled scales give them a rough feel, much like you assume a dragon's skin's texture would be like. These creatures are also very fast on their feet and they are carnivores, hunting small mammals, birds, and even other small lizards.

Need to Know

These cool lizards can be pets, but they're best suited for experienced reptile keepers as they can bite. 

Related: Lizards That Make Spectacular Pets

Caiman Lizard


Not only are these lizards that look like dragons but they are also named after the Caiman crocodile! This is likely due to their crocodile-like scales and stout claws. They are large lizards as well, reaching up to four feet in length, and while they don't bite often, when they do they can inflict a good bit of damage. 

Chinese Water Dragon


Their tiny, tapered scales, their piercing eyes, and their sharp claws make Chinese water dragons look like mythological creatures. Thankfully, these cool lizards are very good with humans, making them another great friend to keep at home! However, if they do get agitated, be prepared for a toothy, open-mouthed warning. 

Crested Gecko


Affectionately called the eyelash gecko, this little guy looks harmless from afar, but he has the eyes of a dragon. Those little spikes around the eyes only accentuate that fabled energy. Otherwise, these cuties are great pets and very cool lizards to learn about!

Related: Fun Facts About Crested Geckos

Armadillo Girdled Lizard


Last, but certainly not least, armadillo girdled lizards are definitely lizards that look like dragons! Their pointy scales, long flat heads, and spikes on their tails make them appear quite intimidating.

However, these animals can be quite friendly and they live in large groups. Their most interesting quality is that when threatened, they roll into a ball, causing their spikes to pop, keeping them safe from predators. 

Need to Know

While these can be another good pet, they do require socialization, so it's best to get multiples for their well-being.

Lizards That Look Like Dragons Are Awesome Animals


Learning about new animals and awesome animal traits is a great way to see if one day you may have an interest in getting a pet of that specific variety. It's also a fantastic way to ensure that you are a conscientious pet owner and only select animals that are ideal pets.

These lizards that look like dragons are not all good for domestic life, but many could become your forever friend with the right setup!

20 Lizards That Are Real-Life Dragons In Disguise