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3- Sailfin Lizard  (Hydrosaurus)  :

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The sailfin lizard is notable not only for its impressive size, but also for its rather spectacular appearance. Adults of this large mottled greenish-grey lizard boast a well-developed crest of tooth-like scales from the nape of the neck down the back . There are three recognized subspecies (H. amboinensis, H. pustulatus, H. weberi).


However, the most distinctive feature of adult males is the erect ‘sail’ of skin at the base of their tail, up to 8 cm high, which provides propulsion for this strong swimmer to move through the water, and probably also plays an important role in territorial display and thermoregulation.


- Scientific name : Hydrosaurus

- Distribution : Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea

- Average Size : 0.8 m (2.5 ft)

- Life Span : 10 years or more

- Difficulty : Intermediate

Housing :


Adult Pustulatus and Amboinensis need a minimum enclosure size of 6 ft long 5 ft tall and 3ft wide for Weberi id suggest a enclosure of 1.5 meters long 1.2 meters tall and 0.6 meters wide (5 x 4 x 2 feet) like always though the bigger the better!! Its also worth mentioning that whilst its possible to cohabit Sailfins successfully its not always recommended. Males can be incredibly territorial and will fight any animal within their territory. Females can also be incredibly aggressive to enclosure mates during breeding season. If you do choose to cohabit your dragons, NEVER cohabit two males.


For juvenile dragons I use 0.9 meters long 0.9 meters tall and 0.6 meters deep (3 x 3 x 2 feet)enclosures and upgrade when necessary. When it comes to housing younger dragons its recommended to keep the enclosure relatively bare. The reason for this is, young sailfins are very flighty so the less things they can run into in the enclosure the better. I’d recommend just putting in a few branches at different angles, plenty of foliage for them to hide in and a shallow water bowl big enough for them to fit their whole body into.


In the wild Sailfins are often found up in tree canopies above fast moving water so bare this mind when decorating your Sailfins home. Use branches at all different angles throughout the enclosure. If you can incorporate a large area of moving water in the enclosure then id strongly recommend doing it! If not a very large plastic container will do just fine. We would also recommend making full use of the usable surface area in the enclosure (, what I mean by this is cover the enclosure walls in trellis or extra branches, doing this helps maximise the area your sailfin has to climb.


On a final note. Make sure your enclosure is well sealed and will not rot in the intense humidity sailfins require. I would suggest lining the bottom of the enclosure with a pond liner. This helps the bottom of the enclosure from not rotting out. I’d also suggest having a decent amount of ventilation in your enclosure. High humidity and high heat make parts of your enclosure very susceptible to mould and bacterial growth. The additional ventilation keeps a nice air flow going throughout the enclosure and helps stop such things from happening.

Substrate :


Sailfins require a high humidity percentage (80%+) so you want to use a substrate that retains moisture without rotting. I use a mixture of cypress mulch, sphagnum moss and bark for my sailfins. In the past I have used a mixture of organic top soil, play sand and moss with good results.


Lighting – Heating


Considering the size of the enclosure Sailfins need, I find ceramic heaters are best suited for the large enclosures. I cannot stress enough the importance of having your chosen heater hooked up to a thermostat. Without having the ability to control or check the temperatures in your enclosure, you could potentially not be giving the animal the proper temperature gradient it needs and its health can suffer because of it. MVB bulbs can also be used and are great for combined heat/UV, the only down side is you cant stat them, this can be rectified though by choosing the correct wattage bulb and by having additional controlled bulbs to create a ambient temperature.


With that being said, ambient daytime temperatures of between 26-32 °C (78-89 °F) and a night time drop to around 21-25 °C (69-77 °F) is fine for sailfins. The basking spot should be between 43-48 °C (109-118 °F) and ideally placed directly above your Sailfins favourite hangout spot.
Good UV lighting is essential for all Sailfin Dragons, it helps them absorb vitamin D and make use of the vitamins and minerals they ingest. I provide my sailfins with 12% D3+ T5 Arcadia bulbs or MVB bulbs. Leave your UV lighting on for 12/13 hours a day in order to give your Sailfin a decent day and night cycle.


Humidity :


Being from a tropical environment, humidity is incredibly important for Sailfins. The humidity in their enclosure should never really fall below 75% we aim for around 80% and higher. Mist twice daily and provide a large water source to aid in keeping it at an acceptable level.


The humidity in the enclosure helps keep them hydrated and helps with shedding so it’s important to provide a decent level of it. If the humidity isn’t correct it can cause all sorts of internal damage to your dragon (kidney failure and respiratory infections being two of the main ones).


Hide box :


Provide your sailfin with plenty of foliage throughout the enclosure to hide in. This is extra important for juvenile dragons. In the wild juvenile dragons are often under constant threat from predators, so providing decent hiding spots helps them feel more secure. As your Sailfin gets older they tend not to hide as much, but its still nice to give them the option.


Water :


With just a quick glance at a sailfin you can see they are built for water. Their long tails, webbed toes and bulky hind legs make them ideal swimmers. So it goes without saying that they need a large source of water. We use large plastic containers that cover at least half of the bottom of the enclosure.
Sailfins need to have their water changed daily. They defecate and drink from the same bowl, so it’s vital that you always keep the water in their enclosure fresh.


Cleaning :


Spot clean daily and do full substrate changes when needed. I recommend looking into bio active substrates. In a nutshell this is adding a clean up crew of micro fauna into the enclosure to clear up any waste left behind by the enclosures inhabitant. We find this extra handy with big humid enclosures.


Feeding :


Very little is known about the natural diet of Sailfin dragons and its widely debated just how much protein they actually need. This can be pretty frustrating but at the same time pretty fun. I find the ratios stated below to work well for my dragons.


Sailfins are omnivorous so they need a very wide variety diet. I keep my adults on a 70% veg/green/fruit diet and reserve the other 30% for protein. Try feed as much variety as possible, sailfins change their “favourite” food constantly so they will become very bored, very fast if you keep offering them the same foods. I try to include a bare minimum of 10 different food types in each meal. A few of the main greens I offer are dandelion, mustard greens, collard greens, watercress, water spinach, kale and wild rocket. Other foods such as parsnip, sweet potato, butternut squash, elderflower, sunflower sprouts, bell peppers, strawberries, apple, hibiscus, lavender, alfalfa, basil, pea shoots, blackberries, cantaloupe, carrot, blueberries, grapes, rose and banana, usualy go down well.


Again though I’ve just scratched the surface of foods you can offer. The list is endless so have fun with it. I’d strongly recommend giving your sailfin the option to forage within it’s enclosure, this is a healthy form of enrichment for them. I do this by hanging iceberg lettuce or lamb lettuce in the enclosure. Now whilst iceberg lettuce is not suitable as a staple part of their diet, it is a incredibly affective form of hydration for your sailfin. I dust all food with a multi-vitamin supplement (arcadia pro earth a) and dust with a calcium supplement 5 times a week.


For protein I use different types of insects and crustaceans. Locusts, waxworms, roaches and crickets are some of the main ones I offer my dragons. For adult sailfins you can offer different types of small fish (minnows and guppies seem to be a firm favourite) also different types of shellfish always go down well.


Younger sailfins are best kept manly on insects. They need the extra protein to help them grow and develop into strong healthy adults. Younger sailfins dont really show interest in greens until they are around 6 months old. I always have fresh greens available in their enclosures but offer them insects every day.






Shedding :


If the humidity is adequate you should have no trouble with your Sailfin shedding. Increasing misting around this time can help with any stubborn sheds.


Handling :


Sailfins have a reputation of being quite flighty (this is especially the case with much younger sailfins). With calm and confident handling though, there is a good chance they will calm down. Never put too much pressure on them and when possible only handle them on their terms. These are a incredibly impressive animals so treat them with the respect they deserve.


If you want to work on increasing the level of tolerance your dragon has for you, tong feeding them insects or holding their food bowl while they eat can be quite effective. I find its also best that when you’re getting them out of their enclosure do it swiftly and calmly. Chasing them around the enclosure only makes them more skittish and can potentially harm the relationship you have with your dragon. Saying this though, sailfins usually calm down once they are adults. Young sailfins have a lot to look out for in the wild so bare this in mind when you have a young dragon that doesn’t seem to calm down. Give them time.


Potential Health Problems :


Sailfins have the same health problems as other lizards. WC specimens often carry parasites, so it’s very important to get a faecal done as soon as you can. Sailfins (like most lizards) are fairly prone to respiratory infections and kidney failure if the humidity or heating isn’t correct. I have a faecal test done on my sailfins every 6 months, in order to check to see if they are carrying any parasites they may have acquired from livefoods.

Image Credit : Mickael Leger Photographie

4-  Reptile enthusiast becomes the UK’s first person to successfully breed an endangered dragon - beating a number of zoos that are also trying :


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By Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 11:38 BST, 8 August 2013 | UPDATED: 15:33 BST, 8 August 2013



  • The Philippine Sailfin dragon was born in a Yorkshire home last month

  • It was purposely bred by reptile keeper Lisa Watson after she found two unrelated adult dragons on the internet

  • The breeding took just one month and the birth was streamed online

A reptile enthusiast has become the UK’s first person to successfully breed an endangered dragon, beating a number of zoos to the accolade.

The male Hydrosaurus Pustulatus, also known as a Philippine Sailfin dragon, hatched last month and the birth was watched on the web worldwide.

Lisa Watson, who has been breeding reptiles for 14 years, purposely bred the lizard, which is extremely rare in captivity and it is unusual for the creatures to hatch outside of the Philippines.


A reptile enthusiast has become the UK's first person to successfully breed an endangered male Philippine Sailfin dragon, pictured, in her home in West Yorkshire. Lisa Watson beat a number of zoos who were also trying for the accolade


The male dragon, pictured left being held by breeder and owner Lisa Watson, has been called Hellraiser. It is thought to be the first Hydrosaurus Pustulatus to be bred in the UK. Watson scoured the internet for Hellraiser's parents, Albert and Skin, right,  to make sure they weren't related 




- Philippine Sailfin lizards live near rivers in the tropical forests of the Philippines. 

- In the wild the reptiles have been known to grow up to five feet long. 

They have flattened toes that enable them to run across water.

- Philippine Sailfin lizards eat fruit, leaves, flowers, insects and small animals.

- Breeding in captivity has only been successful in the minority of cases because Sailfin females traditionally have no maternal instincts.


Hellraiser's birth was streamed live on the internet on Watson took this screengrab during the birth in July but the video is no longer available


This image was also taken during the male dragon's birth and shows breeder Lisa Watson's finger next to the dragon's egg. The fingernail is used for scale. Watson has been breeding reptiles for 14 years from her home in West Yorkshire

Hatchling Hellraiser, pictured held by breeder Lisa Watson, has the run of Watson's lounge and lives on a diet of insects, fruit and vegetables


Parents, Albert Hoffman and Skin, and their hatchling Hellraiser, all have free run of Watson’s lounge and live on a diet of insects, fruit and vegetables.


Watson, who also has over 100 exotic pets including snakes and scorpions, said: 'They are all eating and doing well. 


I’m expecting some more later this month, before a third clutch is due to arrive in September. 

'Albert Hoffman is getting frisky again but Skin is giving him the cold shoulder.'
The Sailfin dragons, who have no maternal instincts, can grow to around five feet given the right space.

As they grow, their skin undergoes a full change as females mature into a gold metallic colour, while males are a sapphire blue.


Watson, a mum-of-three, said there were only a handful of lizard breeders in the UK. 


The Sailfin dragons can grow to around five feet. As they grow females mature into a gold metallic colour while males are a sapphire blue


'I treat them as I would any other pet and the children absolutely love my hobby.


'They are living in their own zoo and everybody’s favourite friends as they also get up close to the reptiles.

'It’s very theraputic to be able to handle them at home. 


'It’s not just about housework - I’m pottering with them and cleaning the tanks.'

Philippine Sailfin lizards live near rivers in the tropical forests of the Philippines.

They have flattened toes that enable them to run across water.

In the wild the reptiles have been known to grow up to five feet long.  

Breeding in captivity has only been successful in the minority of cases because Sailfin females traditionally have no maternal instincts.


She added that none of them knew of the Philippine Sailfin Dragons having been bred in the UK.


'They require a lot of mental stimulation as they are very intelligent. 
'They even know where I keep the food now!


'They can get quite aggressive but generally they are quite relaxed, and each have their own personality.



Watson expected the dragons to take up to a year to mate, yet the spiked, fan-tailed reptiles surprised her when the male, Alfred Hoffman, mounted the female Skin, pictured, within just one month. Breeding in captivity has only been successful in the minority of cases because Sailfins traditionally have no maternal instincts


5- A quick guide :  SAILFIN INFORMATION

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The Species

  • Webers ~ Hydrosaurus weberi (male pictured above)

  • Giant ~ H.amboinensis

  • Pustulosus ~ H.pustulosus




Sailfin,Sailfin Lizard,Sailfin Dragon,Giant sailfin,black sailfin,webers sailfin,ambon sailfin, Soa Soa,Indonesian Crested Water Dragon,Giant Crested Water Dragon these are some of the names I've seen them called and I'm sure theres probaly more and the common names seem interchangeable so make sure your getting what you want.




75-90F day time with a 10-15F drop at night.I use 50-70% with great results.




These guy usually eat almost anything ! I feed babies mostly crickets and mealworms(i calcium dust twice a week on small sailfins food),juvenils and adults will eat gold fish,ground turkey,chicken ,pinkie mice,small adult mice,superworms ,night crawlers,various fruits and vegtables.

I give Sailfins as large of a waterbowl as possable per enclosure size . I change the water as often as possable since sailfins like to bath in and often defecate in their water.I also occasionally mist sailfins as some smaller and newly imported sailfins seem to drink and shed easier this way.




Sailfins are one of if not the easiest lizard to sex at least as adults!. Adult males have the impressive crest and sail(fin) while the females have an extremely small crest and sail or none at all.I have found that babies and juveniles can be probe sexed but do NOT probe by scale count like snakes,it is basically only done by comparison and is NOT 100% acurate. I also TRY to figure the sex of small sailfin by the femoral pores but this does not always seem 100% acurate either.




H.Amboinensis average 3-4'

H.Pustulosus average 3-4'

H.weberi Average 22"-3' the smallest most offered sailfin

Some general features that help distuingish the species

Webers are the smallest and usually most colorful and are the most offered sailfin,there seem to be 2 phases 1)yellow/orange 2)green blue and they can be nearly patternless with heavy black speckeling or can have a reticulated pattern.

Amboinensis usually have bright blue eye sockets and are usually green and blue with no yellow or any other light colors at all.

Pustulosus are the darkest of the sailfins and have a very smoth skin texture compared to the other two species,they are usually dark olive green without much other coloring




Sailfins come from the general area of Indonesia,New Guinea and the Phillipines but never seem to be exact as far as documenting there origin.Large imported adult sailfins DO NOT make a good choice as a beginer lizard since they stress easily in captivity and will try anything to free themselves including ramming glass enclosures until either their neck or the glass breaks!(I've seen both happen) Imported Adults can also be quite mean and a real challenge for a begining keeper to handle.Babies either C.B.,F.B. or imported w.c. usually adapt fairly well to captivity and can become very tame and in MY OPINON much more trustworthy then an Iguana!




I have breed sailfins a few times,but not on a consistant basis.(getting better results with time though)My sailfins seem to need a few key things to breed and here is what has worked for me. 1)Male-male conflicts,just letting two adult males see each other seems to be enough. 2)Misting seems to really help. 3)When trying to start breeding I have also found incresing the amount of feeder insects as food helps. 4)Longer periods of light 12-15hrs. 5)Also I don't know if it's just better chances or not but I seem to have more success with trio's then pairs.




I've tryed temps from 82-87 with varing amounts of success but seem to have the best hatch rate at 85 degrees with incubation taking 48-62 days at this temp.

I encourage anyone interested in getting a sailfin as a pet to look around and find all the information possiable first. All the information posted here is either just what I know or what has worked for ME personally and I do not claim to be any kind of know it all.I just like to help out when possiable but I belive there is no such thing as to much information especially with and animal like sailfins,and I also appericate anyone else's information which they would be willing to share!

I am also ALWAYS interested in obtaining additional sailfins (all 3 species) to add to my groups!

You want more information .. .. 


Click here : 

Agamidae :  Introduction 

Agamidae Species : Africa  -  Asia  -  Australia & Papua new guinea

 Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5

 Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5

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