top of page


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


This article is about a lizard genus. For the mososaur genus which previously held the same name, see Pontosaurus.


Hydrosaurus, commonly known as the sailfin lizards, is a genus in the family Agamidae.[2] These relatively large lizards are named after the sail-like structure on their tails. They are native to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, where they are generally found near water, such as rivers. They are the only members of the Hydrosaurinae subfamily.

Care Articles ( For all species ) : 


1-Sailfin Dragon Care Sheet

courtesy to :



For the external links , refrences  click here to read the full wikipedia article 

Hydrosaurus amboinensis

Scientific classification :









Kaup, 1828[1]

Species :


  • Hydrosaurus amboinensis (Schlosser, 1768) – Amboina sailfin lizard or Amboina sail-finned lizard

  • Hydrosaurus pustulatus (Eschsholtz, 1829) – Philippine sailfin lizard, crested lizard, sail-fin lizard, lailfin water lizard, or soa-soa water lizard[3]

  • Hydrosaurus weberi Barbour, 1911 – Weber's sailfin lizard

Video : 

sailfin dragon / hydrosaurus amboinensis

Sailfin dragons are usually found basking in or near mountain streams.


Sailfin Dragons (Hydrosaurus spp.)


Sailfin dragons intrigue anyone interested in dinosaurs. These prehistoric-looking lizards endowed with spikes and crests are truly magnificent beasts. Males also have a large fanlike sail protruding from the base of the tail. Some herpkeepers quickly fall in love with them. However, sailfin dragons aren’t for everyone. They require large, semiarboreal enclosures, so only those willing to offer appropriate room should consider keeping sailfin dragons.


Sailfin dragons (Hydrosaurus pustulatus, H. Amboinensis and H. ''weberi'') are a group of large-bodied lizards from the tropical regions of eastern Indonesia, New Guinea and the Philippines. The largest of the agamid family, these water-loving lizards are usually found basking in or near mountain streams. They flee at the first sight of danger, typically running bipedally into the water until they sink and swim away. Their ability to hide underwater for up to an hour helps to ensure any threats pass.


Sailfin Dragon Availability:


Sailfin dragons have never been common in the pet trade. They were more available in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Philippines exported them, but the country has since protected the lizards and stopped their export. Now Indonesia is the primary source of sailfin dragons. Because these lizards make interesting and beautiful captives, I decided early on to work with them in order to offer future lizardkeepers hassle–free, captive-born dragons.


 Ambon segelechse


Sailfin Dragon Size :


Sailfin dragons require lots of room. They easily measure 3 feet long in captivity. Large adult males reach up to 4 feet in length. Females are usually a third smaller than males. Philippine sailfins (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) and Indonesian giants (H. Amboinensis) appear to reach the largest sizes. The average adult male is 3.5 feet long and weighs 3 to 5 pounds. Measuring more than 3 feet in total length, Weber's sailfin (H. ''weberi'') is typically thinner and lighter-bodied, and it has a somewhat longer tail.


Sailfin Dragon Life Span  :


Several books note that Hydrosaurus species can live up to 25 years. I've talked to a few people that have kept them for 20 years now, and I own some that are 14 years old, and occasionally they still reproduce.


Sailfin Dragon Caging :


A 30- to 40-gallon aquarium is adequate for a single young lizard up to 16 inches long. I recommend a visual barrier on all sides of the tank except for the viewing side, and even then a 4- to 6-inch-tall barrier across the front wouldn’t hurt. The barrier helps to avoid the common nose-rubbing that occurs with these lizards.


After the dragon's juvenile stage passes, larger enclosures are necessary. Keep larger juveniles and adults in custom enclosures built to their specific semiarboreal requirements. A single adult sailfin dragon should have an enclosure measuring at least 5 feet long, 2.5 feet wide and 5 feet tall. Pairs or trios should have an enclosure with dimensions each extended by a few feet. The cage floor should not rot in high humidity.


It is crucial to have all sides visually blocked and a 1-foot-tall barrier across the front. Your dragon will feel more secure, and the cage will hold higher heat and humidity, which is important for proper growth and shedding. Large branches of various diameters — nothing thinner than the girth of their bodies — should be placed horizontally and diagonally throughout the enclosure. Shelves built into the walls also make great additions. Make sure to leave some room on the ground for a large water basin, food bowl and also possible egg-laying site if you're keeping females.


Sailfin Dragon Lighting and Temperature


A good UVB source (mercury vapor or fluorescent) is very important, and so are basking bulbs for heat. These creatures come from a tropical environment, so the basking area temperature should be around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Position the basking bulb above a favorite branch or high shelf. Ambient temperatures should be 85 to 90 degrees throughout the rest of cage. Nighttime temperatures should drop to somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees.


In cooler climates or during the winter, heat tape can be used to help warm the cage bottom, or ceramic heat emitters from above will keep your lizard happy and healthy. Please follow installation instructions carefully to prevent lizard burns and house fires.


Sailfin Dragon Substrate :


Sailfin dragons need an organic substrate that can sustain high humidity. Cypress mulch works very well. It is inexpensive, but make sure it is pure cypress mulch and not a mix. Other bark substrates designed for humidity-loving reptiles are also acceptable. A substrate mix containing equal parts of additive-free potting soil, play sand and moistened coconut fiber also works. A layer a few inches deep is fine.

Sailfin Dragon Food :


Omnivorous by nature, sailfin dragons eat just about anything known to be edible and healthy. Babies should be fed as often as they feel the need to eat. Try insects (such as crickets, superworms, cockroaches and Phoenix Worms) in the morning, and dust insects with calcium and vitamin D3. Leave a bowl of finely chopped fruits and vegetables (such as cantaloupe, bananas, berries, collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, beans and edible flowers) in all day. Commercial bearded dragon pellets are an excellent addition. Toward evening try feeding more dusted, gut-loaded insects.


As sailfin dragons mature, stick with the same diet and supplementation, and calcium dusted insects, but add more variety, such as small mice, ground turkey, clean fish, crustaceans, shrimp and crawfish. Increase the calcium if keeping ovulating females and vitamins added once to twice weekly to the diet.


Sailfin Dragon Water :


Sailfin dragons have evolved to live hand-in-hand with water, so 75 percent and higher humidity in the enclosure is a must. Daily mistings with a spray bottle help ensure proper shedding of their skin and spikes. A large water pan deep enough for the lizard to submerge is also quite important for the enclosure. You must change the water daily because the lizards defecate in and drink out of the same pan. For the most part, this is the only maintenance required to clean the cage. In that sense, they are inherently potty-trained.


Sailfin Dragon Handling and Temperament :


Sailfin dragons are a little jumpy, and they have a bit of a wild side when a potential threat nears in captivity. A secure cage helps with this immensely. Work around them slowly, and gain their trust. Yet even the wildest sailfins chill out a minute or so after capture. They wiggle and scratch a bit if captured, but they are not typically mean. Patience with hand-feeding helps gain their trust. Scooping them from the enclosure, as opposed to catching them while they run around, also alleviates a lot of stress on their part — and pesky scratches on yours.




Scott Corning is the source for Sailfin Dragon information and breeding. Please visit his site at

2- Sailfin Dragon Care and Conservation: a Zookeeper’s Notes

courtesy to : 

Home | Lizards | Sailfin Dragon Care and Conservation: a Zookeeper’s Notes

Posted by: Frank Indiviglio in Lizards November 25, 2014


Sailfin Dragons (4 species in the genus Hydrosaurus) are among the most spectacular of all the world’s lizards. Even after a lifetime of working with reptiles in zoos and the field, the sight of one stops me cold – and I know of no herp enthusiast who reacts otherwise. While certainly not suitable for beginners, the experienced keeper with ample space will be hard pressed to find a more exciting prospect. And with a new species recently described, and wild populations of others in jeopardy, serious attention to captive breeding is urgently needed.

Description and Natural History :


The Philippine Sailfin Lizard, Hydrosaurus pustulatus, was the species most commonly seen in the pet trade until the mid-1990’s, when exports were restricted. Stoutly built and sometimes nearing 4 feet in length, males are clad in green, neon purple, and reddish blue, and bear huge crests along the back and tail. DNA studies of individuals in Manila animal markets revealed that 2 genetically-distinct species are currently classified as H. pustulatus. The newly-described species has not yet been named. Please see the article linked below for further information.

The Amboina Sailfin, H. amboinensis, native to Indonesia and New Guinea, now often appears in pet markets in the Philippines. Weber’s Sailfin Lizard, H. weberi, is limited in distribution to the Indonesian islands of Ternate and Halmahera.


Sailfin Dragons are found near water, frequenting forested river edges, swamps, and coastal marshes.

Behavior :


Sailfin Dragons are alert and somewhat high-strung. Pets will flee from noises, cats, dogs, large birds and other threats. Injuries during such escape attempts are common. While some calm down and accept gentle handling, wild caught individuals may remain unapproachable for years.

Status in the Wild :


A recent survey by University of Oklahoma herpetologists (Biological Conservation, V 169, Jan, 2014) revealed that only 10% of the Philippine Sailfin Dragon’s remaining habitat is protected. The rest is impacted by logging, coastal fisheries, illegal collection, and other activities.

The Terrarium :


Sailfin Dragons forage on the ground but are otherwise arboreal. They will be stressed if kept in low enclosures that do not allow climbing opportunities.


Youngsters may be raised in 30-55 gallon aquariums. In common with Asian Water Dragons and Basilisks, they often run along the glass and are prone to snout and jaw abrasions. Cardboard or other solid borders along the lower 3-4 inches of the tank’s sides will help to limit such injuries.



Larger individuals must be housed in custom-made cages. A single adult will need a home measuring approximately 5 x 4 x 5 feet. More height – 6 feet or so – is ideal. In suitable climates, predator-proof outdoor enclosures, including pre-fabricated bird aviaries, can be fashioned into “luxury accommodations”.


A water bowl large enough for bathing must be provided. Custom built cages with filtered pools are ideal.

Substrate :


The substrate should be capable of holding moisture and soft enough to cushion falls when hungry or frightened Dragons leap to the ground. Cypress mulch is ideal; soft sphagnum moss can be added if falls are frequent. Avoid fine substrates such as peat and coconut husk, which tend to lodge around the eyes and jaws.


Light :


Sailfin Dragons will not thrive without a source of UVB radiation. Natural sunlight is best, but be aware that glass and plastic filter out UVB rays, and that fatal overheating can occur very quickly. If a florescent bulb is used (the Zoo Med 10.0 UVB Bulb is ideal), be sure that all animals can bask within 6-12 inches of it. Mercury vapor bulbs broadcast UVB over greater distances, and provide beneficial UVA radiation as well. A 12:12 hour day-night cycle should be maintained.

Heat :


The ambient air temperature should range from 80-90 F, with a basking spot of 110-120 F; night-time temperatures can dip to 75 F.  Incandescent bulbs should be used to maintain these temperatures. Provide your pets with the largest enclosure possible, so that a varied temperature gradient can be maintained. A ceramic heater or red/black reptile “night bulb” can be used after dark.


Humidity :


Sailfin Dragons require humidity levels of approximately 80%, and the chance to dry off as well. The terrarium should be misted twice daily. Large bathing pools and reptile misters can be used to increase humidity.


Companions :


Males are territorial and will fight savagely. Females often co-exist, but may also battle for dominance.

Feeding :


Sailfin Dragons need a varied diet. Those fed crickets and mealworms alone quickly develop serious developmental disorders. Whole vertebrates such as minnows, shiners, crayfish or small bait crabs, and pink mice represent the best means of meeting their high calcium requirements; use goldfishes only sparingly, as a steady diet has been implicated in health problems in other reptiles. Pink mice should be fed less often than fishes (once each 7-14 days), and furred rodents are best avoided.

Roaches, earthworms, crickets, butterworms, silkworms, super mealworms and other commercially-available insects, should be offered regularly. In order to increase dietary variety, try canned grasshoppers, snails and silkworms. Cicadas, beetles, grasshoppers, moths and other wild-caught insects should be provided as well; please see the article linked below for further information on safely collecting insects.


Young Sailfin Dragons are primarily carnivorous, but add greens and fruit to the diet as they mature. Captives, however, often reject non-living foods. Mixing live mealworms into a bowl of kale, dandelion, squash, carrot, mango, peaches and other produce may encourage them to sample the salad.


Depending upon the type of food, Sailfin Dragons can be fed daily, every-other-day or thrice weekly; young fare best when fed frequently. Food (other than vertebrates) should be powdered with Zoo Med ReptiCalcium or a similar product. Vitamin/mineral supplements such as ReptiVite should be used 2-3 times each week.


While ingested substrate is usually passed, food is best offered in bowls to limit potential problems.


Health Considerations (Pet Owner and Pet)


Salmonella bacteria, commonly present in reptile and amphibian digestive tracts, can cause severe illnesses in people. Handling an animal will not cause an infection, as the bacteria must be ingested. Salmonella infections are easy to avoid via the use of proper hygiene. Please speak with your family doctor concerning details, and feel free to write me for links to useful resources.


Unfortunately, captive breeding remains the exception rather than the rule. Wild-caught individuals will be afflicted with various parasites and should be seen by an experienced veterinarian shortly after acquisition.


Sailfin Dragons are prone to snout and jaw injuries that result from rubbing against glass and screening. Wounds may become infected, and should be treated immediately.


Fine/gritty substrate may lodge along the gums and in the eyes.

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

bottom of page