Close this search box.

Sailfin Dragon: Best Care and Enclosure Guide

These guys are cool looking. They almost look like something out of a movie.

a picture of a sailfin dragon
Sailfin Dragon (Hydrosaurus weberi) is an agamid lizard found in indonesia.
Sailfin Dragon (Hydrosaurus weberi) is an agamid lizard found in Indonesia.

In order to keep these guys you want to know as much information as possible. The guide you’re about to read is going to cover all the things you’ll need to know

Sailfin Dragon Summary

There are three different types of Sailfin dragons. They are native to Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Guinea. Since there are many places it comes from there is going to be a difference in size, temperament and care needs.

Sometimes between different species there will be subtle things you need to understand because of what their natural habitat is in that region.

Sailfin dragons are sought after because of their color, looks and features. it legitimately looks like a dinosaur.

Just remember that these guys need specific care and they shouldn’t be sought after by beginners.

Lifespan Timeline

These guys live long. when living in captivity they can live up to 20-25 years. Obviously life is life and things can happen. complications can happen but all in all they can live long lives

Your focus needs to be on keeping them healthy and happy with a good diet and a high level of care for their captivity.

Average size

Dude. these things get huge. They can reach a size of 36 inches or more. not every species will grow that big it depends on the sub-species you get

the biggest ones you can get are the philippine Sailfins (Hydrosaurus pustulatus. The Indonesian Giants are big as well. these two are the ones that can grow up to 48 inches in length.

One thing you should know is that the males are 35 percent bigger than the females on average

Colour and appearance

These guys have a wide body, long toes, and a long tail. They are also pretty fast.

sailfin dragon standing on a rock with its long tail dragging. Big sailfin
Sailfin dragon tail fappin!

Sailfins have a crest running down from its neck down its back. The spiky scales run down from its neck down its back as well.

The males are the ones with the awesome tail which can stand right up on command. It makes it look bigger and more of a threat. This also doubles with helping it with agility while running, climbing and swimming

They have a lot of green and grey in their colour palette. some more rare colours you will see are blues and red down their face and chest. I’ve seen some black ones as well. They look awesome.

Sailfin Health concerns

like most lizards you have to be careful for fungal infections and bacterial infections. With proper care of their enclosure you can avoid most of these problems.

on a monthly basis i usually look at my reptile enclosure and make sure anything thats dirty is cleaned up and disinfected. If something really bad comes up ill obviously clean it right away but most of the time once a month is fine. Try to keep the moisture and temperature just right to prevent any kind of infections from popping up. If you ever see your reptile acting funny or if it seems like he’s sick take him to the vet immediately. its better safe than sorry of course.

When sailfin dragons are in their enclosure they can get substrate particles in their eyes. Watch out for this. This can lead to eye infections.

They tend to rub their face on the surfaces of their enclosure and its possible for things to get stuck on their face. Just inspect them often to make sure nothing gets stuck.

what i would do is put something solid around the enclosure so they don’t rub their face on the mesh that some enclosures have. like we said earlier sailfin dragons take some work.

Like any other animal really you have to be careful with parasites and other diseases. If you end up getting a sailfin dragon that is wild caught you run the risk of catching anything that it has of course. I would visit a vet and make sure its clear before you take it home long term.

Sailfin Dragon handling

So you need to be careful here because they don’t really like being held much. Especially when they don’t know you.

They will usually try to scratch you just to get free. They aren’t trying to hurt you. They are just scared. When they are comfortable in their home and they’ve had time to get to know you then they will open up to being handled more.

When you first get them in your home, just move slow and relax. They are afraid of you so just be patient. Like anything you just have to give them time to warm up to you.

When they do finally trust you, always hold them from their bottom and belly so they don’t fall. They will lose trust real quick when you drop them (obviously)

please don’t chase them around either. They will think you’re a predator trying to hurt them. let them warm up to you!

Sailfin Dragon Care

Care for these guys can be hard sometimes. The most important thing is setting up their enclosures properly and making sure they have the right habitat. You want to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible. Make sure their diet is excellent as well as their enclosure.

They are large reptiles so it can be difficult and overwhelming to keep up with these guys.

Enclosure Size

remember these guys are big so you’re going to need a pretty big enclosure. When you have an adult Sailfin dragon you’re going to want to build or order a custom enclosure. if they are young then you can use a 30-60 gallon tank to house them.

Adults are going to need something that is 6 feet big. They will need some room to breathe. Just make sure its secure.

the measurements you’re aiming for are 6 feet by 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall. 6x3x5

If you have more room then go bigger for sure

when building a custom enclosure make sure you block out their view so they can’t always see whats going on. They like to fight. as i mentioned above they also like to rub their faces on things so use solid material as a perimeter.

How to set up their habitat

You want to mimic their natural environment as much as possible. They are from tropical places so you need to think about what that means for them. They like to climb which means they are arboreal. I have a different kind of lizard myself (A leachie gecko) and they are the same. i have a little fake tree set up for him to climb around on.

You want to set up a moisture-absorbing substrate. For Sailfin dragons you can use Cypress mulch or and kind of high grade mulch. Cypress mulch is safe and easy to clean and holds on top moisture well to maintain the right humidity levels inside the enclosure.

I personally use a mix of coconut fiber and play sand in my gecko enclosures. This works really well for them. Just remember they like to rub their faces. The finer particles can get in their eyes.

They like to climb so set up some branches. Set them up in the most natural way you can think. You want branches going all over the place. Set them up vertically and have them come out in creative ways. Give them a variety of different ways to climb and have fun in there.

Use a variety of thickness for the branches. Remember to mimic their natural environment. Make sure its strong enough to support them as well.

Set up a little box for them to hide inside. My Leachie gecko likes to hide inside his box all the time. This will help them retreat and give them a safe space.

Sailfin Dragon branch size. Pretty big. the right size for him to climb on
Sailfin Dragon branch size to use

Add some foliage to their enclosure as well. i like using artificial plants for my reptiles but its up to you. Give them some areas and foliage to hide behind and around like they would in the wild.

Temperature, Lighting and water needs

Most reptiles do something called Thermo-regulation. They will move around to different places to better accommodate their specific temperature needs.

Your temperature setup should support this behavior. Install a basking light on top of your lizards favorite branch outside the enclosure. These lights can get hot.

Set the basking light to create a hot area of around 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Your lizard will love you 🙂

The rest of the enclosure should be between 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sailfin Dragons are diurnal. They operate on regular day/night cycles. set the lights to go off at night

some people set up red lights to check on their lizards at night. you can do so if you wish.

One more thing you will need is a UVB lamp. You will need this to mimic the sun rays. They need to make calcium in their bodies just like humans make vitamin D through the sun. A full spectrum UV light will help your sailfin make the right amounts of calcium for their bodies.

install this above the enclosure so it shines on most of the habitat inside. you can set a timer on these bulbs so they are really easy to manage. Change the bulbs every 6 to 8 months.


I like to repeat myself a lot lol. so mimic their natural habitat. Sailfins like to stay near clean water so make sure they have a heavy bottomed bowl they cant easily knock over. Make sure its big.

Clean the water and the pan/bowl you use all the time to keep bacteria at bay. They like to poop in the water so make sure its cleaned often… DAILY!.


They love the hot humid weather so you’re going to want to mimic that. Keep the humidity levels around 75 to 85 percent in the enclosure at all times.

Mist the enclosure daily if you want to raise the humidity levels. The substrate will soak it up and maintain the humidity levels properly.

i use something called an automatic mister. ill put a link at the bottom of this post for you.

You can use something called a hygrometer to tell you what the humidity levels are with ease and confidence.

Sailfin Dragon Diet

Sailfin Dragons are omnivores. They can eat a variety of different food from protein filled animals to fruits and vegetables.

heres a list for you to use. Take a screenshot

  • Blueberries
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • bananas
  • carrots
  • squash
  • crickets
  • cockroaches
  • feeder mice
  • fish (clean)
  • kale
  • Dandelion greens

Make sure when feeding them insects you clean them. Also dust them with supplement powders 3 times a week to help with calcium. you can also give them a multivitamin (dust the insects with it)

Feed them every other day. Young lizards will want to eat more frequently than adults but you dont need to feed them like you would other animals.

Mix up their diet. Be kind in giving them variety.

Ending Summary/Conclusion

  • Sailfin dragons aren’t the easiest to care for as they are large and take time to trust you
  • They require patience and a lot of attention to make sure they are properly cared for
  • They require a large custom built enclosure for adults
  • They are awesome to look at
  • They look like dinosaurs 🙂

take your time with them and they are going to be a joy for you to have. If you buy one Good luck and have fun

If you want to know where to purchase them go here

They aren’t too expensive either