Lizard (Philippine Sail-Fin)

Hydrosaurus pustulatus

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

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Where they live

Philippine Islands, New Guinea and Eastern Indonesia


Tropical forests near water on riverbanks and paddy fields.


0.8m average, but may reach 1.6m


2.3-3 kg


10 years but may reach 20+ in the Zoo


Habitat loss and degradation, collection for the pet trade

Did you know...

  • The animals generic name of Hydrosaurus means water (hydro) lizard (saurus)

More about Sailfin lizards...

Also known as the Philippine Sailfin water dragon, Sailfin lizard, Sailfin water lizard, Soa-Soa water lizard, this striking member of the Agamid family is notable for the well-developed crest of tooth like scales on its head but more especially the erect sail at the base of the tail which may be up to 8cm high.

The Sailfin lizard lives in tropical forest where it is found in trees overhanging the water. It frequently takes to water to avoid predators and is an excellent swimmer, using the sail and its flattened toes for propulsion. The flattened toes also allow it to walk on water.

Omnivorous in habit , the Sailfin feeds on a range of leaves, shoots and fruits as well as occasional insects and crustaceans.

Female Sailfin lizards breed only once a year but may subsequently lay several clutches of 2-8 eggs in a shallow hole in riverside soil. The eggs hatch after about two months and are active and agile enough at hatching to avoid potential predators. Like the adults, hatchling Sailfins are also proficient swimmers and readily seek refuge in the water when danger threatens.

Sadly, destruction and degradation of the forests by felling for timber and conversion to agriculture, together with collection for the pet trade and to satisfy local demand has led to a decline in populations and a listing in the red data book of threatened species.

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