Fun Philippine Sailfin Lizard Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 21, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Philippine sailfin lizard facts are very interesting to read.

The Philippine sailfin lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) is also known by many different names such as sailfin water lizards, crested lizards, soa-soa lizard, and sailfin dragon. They are also known as ibid in their native land of the Philippines.

This reptile gets the name from the large crest of skin that stretches from the lower back to its tail, which helps it with warming up in the sun quicker and being more aerodynamic while in water.

The sailfin dragon is often seen on branches during the day and near water bodies so that it can escape into the water if threatened.

It swims away with the help of its flattened toes to the bottom as it is an excellent swimmer and can hold its breath for up to 15 minutes under the water.

If you liked these true facts about the Philippine sailfin lizard, then you'll surely like these facts about the Italian wall lizard and the Mexican alligator lizard, too.

Philippine Sailfin Lizard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Philippine sailfin lizard?

Philippine sailfin lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) is a semi-aquatic lizard species and the most peculiar feature of this animal is the erect sail-like skin situated along the lower back to the base of the tail. This erected sail-like skin can be as large as 2-2.7 in (6-7 cm) high in some males.

This sail plays an important role in the territorial display allowing it to expose a large surface area to the sun to warm up quickly.

What class of animal does a Philippine sailfin lizard belong to?

Philippine sailfin lizards (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) belong to the Reptilia class. Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates that are covered by the skin made up of bony plates or scales.

How many Philippine sailfin lizards are there in the world?

Unfortunately, there is no accurate count on the population of Philippine sailfins. Due to the rapid decrease in their population as these lizards are listed as Vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List.

Where does a Philippine sailfin lizard live?

These lizards are endemic to the Philippines, they are found in the islands of Polillo, Negros, Guimaras, Masbate, Romblon, Catanduanes, Luzon, Mindoro, Cebu, Panay, Tablas, and Sibuyan.

What is a Philippine sailfin lizard's habitat?

Sailfin lizards are generally limited to wetlands adjacent to rivers and streams and vegetation present in lowland tropical moist forests to open cultivated areas. These reptiles have a preference for particular trees and shrubs as resting places near overhanging water.

Who do Philippine sailfin lizards live with?

The dragons are usually found alone as they are solitary in nature, like caiman lizards. Though being solitary in nature these lizards are sometimes seen living in prosperity together with others in captivity.

How long does a Philippine sailfin lizard live?

Sailfin lizards can live up to 8-12 years of age in the wild, and with proper care and feeding them a good diet their lifespan can be prolonged to 15 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Philippine sailfins reach their sexual maturity at the age of three years. Females breed once a year and lay two to eight eggs near the shallow holes dug into the soil adjoining the water bodies.

They have an incubation period of two months. Once the juveniles hatch from eggs, they are agile and active enough to escape into the water if threatened.

What is their conservation status?

Habitat degradation and destruction of the forest for agriculture and for timber along with the collection of these animals for the pet trade have led to the decline in their population. As per the IUCN Red List, these creatures are listed as Vulnerable species.

Philippine Sailfin Lizard Fun Facts

What do Philippine sailfin lizards look like?

Philippine sailfins are green in color and get darker as they grow. They have large eyes, striking ear openings, and a short snout. In few males, a dull scaly horn is visible on the summit of their nose.

This dragon has long, narrow, and elevated dorsal ridged scales on its back from head to tail. The dorsal ridge expands into a pre-eminent sail that expands midway down the tail. Males have a larger sail-like dorsal ridge compared to females.

These lizards display sexual dimorphism as males possess a larger crest than females, and as males grow, they gain a violet shade.

Facts and information about Philippine sailfin lizard conservation are interesting.

How cute are they?

This sailfin lizard is not cute at all, with their heinous and wrinkled skin they are not a treat for your eyes, just like frilled lizards.

How do they communicate?

The sailfin lizard uses tactile communication, as they make direct contact with one another with the help of licking, bumping another lizard, nudging, and biting.

How big is a Philippine sailfin lizard?

An adult sailfin lizard can grow up to 24-36 in (61-91 cm) in length. It is way shorter than a monitor lizard.

How fast can a Philippine sailfin lizard move?

Unfortunately, the accurate speed of the sailfin lizard has not yet been recorded, but at the sight of danger, this water lizard runs on its two rear limbs towards the water to dive underwater and avoid the predators. It is an excellent swimmer and uses its flattened toes and a flat sail-like tail to push itself through the water.

How much does a Philippine sailfin lizard weigh?

This water lizard is one of the largest species among its relatives and a fully grown crested lizard can grow up to 5-7 lb (2.3-3 kg) in weight. They are bulkier than sand lizards.

What are the male and female names of the species?

At present, no particular names have been assigned to either sex of the crested lizard.

What would you call a baby Philippine sailfin lizard?

Unfortunately, a baby Philippine sailfin lizard has not been given a specific name and is known as a baby Philippine sailfin lizard or small Philippine sailfin lizard. These juvenile lizards are lightweight and have flattened toes which help them to escape through the water to avoid predators.

What do they eat?

Philippine sailfins are omnivores and their food consists of vegetation such as flowers, leaves, fruits, as well as small animals and insects. At the juvenile stage, these animals need more meat and insects as food than plants and slowly shift from meat to vegetation as they grow.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, these lizards are dangerous. They show hostile behavior and are not as easy to take care of like other reptiles.

Would they make a good pet?

This species is listed as a Vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List, so their domestication and sale across the world in the pet trade can be problematic. They are an exotic species and are very expensive in the pet trade.

Please check your local laws and regulations about keeping any animal as a pet as the rules may vary from State to State and country to country.

Did you know...

This reptile belongs to the order Squamata that includes Indonesian and Philippine sailfins. The Philippine sailfin is considered the largest amongst the agamid lizard family in the world.

It is a semi-aquatic lizard and it can conceal itself underwater for almost over an hour.

The sailfin dragon has the lengthiest tail among all the other Hydrosaurus species.

The sailfin water lizard has an undeveloped eye atop its head. Their pineal eye is sensitive to the angle of the sun's rays.

The black throat monitor is the biggest lizards that you can keep as a pet.

Is a monitor lizard the same as a komodo dragon?

There is no such difference between a monitor lizard and a komodo dragon because a komodo dragon is a monitor lizard. The komodo dragon is one of the carnivorous species that belongs to the Varanus genera.

The komodo dragon’s skin is not very appropriate for leather products, unlike its relatives. It has skin with small bones called osteoderms which fortify the skin against predators giving it a rough texture.

Is the Philippine sailfin lizard endemic?

As the name suggests, this species is endemic to the Philippines. The population distribution range is unsure because of confusion in identification between the Philippine sailfin lizard and Amboina sail-finned lizard.

Philippine sailfin lizards are found in the tropical moist forests islands of Polillo, Negros, Guimaras, Masbate, Romblon, Catanduanes, Luzon, Mindoro, Cebu, Panay, Tablas, and Sibuyan.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our mud snake facts and pine snake facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Philippine sailfin lizard coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

Read full bio >