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Species Name: Philipine Sailfin Lizard

Species Latin Name: Hydrosaurus pustulatus

Native Name: Ibid

Also Known As: Crested Lizard, Sail-fin Lizard, Sailfin Water Lizard, Soa-soa Water Lizard, Philippine Sail-finned Water Dragon

Native To: Several islands that make up the Philippines, also located in New Guinea and parts of Eastern Indonesia

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Photo Taken At: N/A

Size (length): 61 – 91cm (24 – 36 inches)

Weight: 2.3 – 3.0kg (5 – 7 pounds)

Lifespan: 8 – 25 years

Population Trend: Decreasing

Diet: Omnivore

Lifestyle: Terrestrial, oviparous, precocial

Mating Behavior:

Eggs Per Clutch: 2 - 8 eggs

Incubation Period: 2 months

Independent Age: At Birth

Age of Sexual Maturity: 3 years

Related Species:

Amboina Sailfin Lizard or Amboina Sail-finned Lizard (Hydrosaurus amboinensis), located in Western New Guinea,/Amboina Island and Ceram Island (Indonesia), Conservation Status: Least Concern

Sulawesi Black Sailfin Lizard (Hydrosaurus celebensis), located in Sulawesi (Indonesia), Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Makassar Sailfin Lizard or Sulawesi Giant Sailfin Dragon (Hydrosaurus microlophus), located in Sulawesi (Indonesia)

Weber's Sailfin Lizard (Hydrosaurus weberi), located in Ternate island and Halmahera Island in North Maluku (Indonesia)


The Phillipine Sailfin lizard is largely named this due to the large and unique crests that are featured from the back of their heads right down to their tails, these crests are elevated ridged scales that can expand into a sail like shape. This sail like structure is larger and more prominent in males and it also plays a role in dominance displays, these sails also assists these animals with their ability to swim as well as to maintain their body temperature to some extent. This species features other traits of sexual dimorphism as the male's will have larger heads than the females, the males will also feature a violet coloration across their entire heads during mating season whereas the females will have violet coloration around their necks only. These lizards when younger will generally be a green color but they will become more brownish in color as they age, yellow patches of scales can sometimes be noted on their backside or around their head. Other features of this species is their flattened tail which further assists with their ability to swim, they also have a vestigial eye on the top of their head/skull which can faintly detect different angles of light likely thought to assist them with their sense of direction. They have large dark brown eyes, striking ear openings, short snouts, and in rare cases some males will feature a dull scaly horn at the tip of their nose.


This species are omnivores and will eat a variety of different leaves, fruits, insects, and crustaceans. Juveniles will start out their lives with a preference for meat moreso than plant matter, their diet balances to more of an omnivorous diet as they age. These animals can be quite popular as an exotic pet due to their simple dietary requirements however, they do not tend to be docile creatures compared to other lizards. In a captive setting they can be fed crickets, cockroaches, earthworms, superworms, feeder mice, small crustaceans, clean fish, kale, dandelion greens, squash, carrots, bananas, berries and pretty much anything they can get their mouths on. These animals are not exclusively carnivores or herbivores, they will seek out more of a balanced diet as they age.


The Philippine Sailfin Lizards are generally solitary in nature, they will generally only interact with others of the same species to mate or when males are competing for territory. Generally these animals will communicate with licking, bumping one another, nudging, and biting. Although these animals are naturally skittish and solitary in the wild they are known to thrive in a captive setting provided there is enough space however, two males are unable to occupy the same space due to their territorial nature.

The females of this species will generally occur once a year but there is potential for multiple clutches to be laid each year. Clutches will range between 2 – 8 eggs being laid per clutch, the eggs will be laid in shallow holes that are dug near water bodies. The eggs will be incubated for roughly 2 months and once hatched the young are agile and active enough to escape into the water if threatened. These lizards become sexually active after about 3 years after hatching, it is also important that the eggs are laid above the flood line.


The biggest threats to this species appears to be from the hands of humans. Like many other animals the loss and degradation of habitat is a serious matter for this species, much land has been lost as it has been developed for agriculture as well as for timber. One of the other threats these lizards face from humans is that they are often targeted and hunted by humans for a variety of different reasons Although it is illegal in the Philippines to export the lizard out of the country the animal is still targeted for its meat for exotic meat collectors and many these animals are captured for the exotic pet trade. All of these actions have reduced the number of this species in the wild and it appears that their numbers are still decreasing today, currently there is no accurate number of how many of these lizards are left in the wild and their future is currently uncertain.

These animals do have a few ways to defend themselves in the presence of predators. Generally these animals will try to flee from potential danger, if threatened they may drop from the tree branch they are sitting on, run, or they will dive into the water to evade predation. These lizards are excellent swimmers, they are known to be swift and agile in the water in order to avoid potential threats. They can swim to the bottom of a body of water and remain there for up to 15 minutes in order to avoid detection. Young juveniles who are much lighter than the adults of this species are known to run on top of the water to avoid predation, they are able to do this due to their light weight as well as their flattened toes. The adults lose this ability to run on top of the water as they get heavier.

In a captive setting these animals will generally be rather shy and quick to look for an escape route much like they would in the wild. When this is not an option for them they may resort to tail whipping and scratching, this behavior is more seen out of fear than actual aggression. These animals tend less docile compared to other lizards.

Further Reading (general information):


Reptile Direct:…



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