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How to Care for Your Sailfin Dragon

How to Care for Your Sailfin Dragon


Sailfin Dragons (various species of the Hydrosaurus genus) are large (3-4’), diurnal, semi-aquatic, arboreal reptiles native to Indonesia, New Guinea and the Philippines. Sailfin Dragons are primarily brown with blue, purple, or gold highlights. They get their common name from the large, sail-like crest running from the base of the tail most of the way down the tail. Due to their size, need for careful acclimation, and the tendency to injure themselves by trying to escape their cages, they should be considered to be advanced level pets.



Adult Sailfin Dragons require large enclosures, with a minimal size of 5’x2.5’x5’ tall. In order to keep the Dragon from rubbing or banging its nose on the cage walls, it’s important to block out the sides of the enclosure and to put an opaque 1’ tall barrier at the front. The enclosure should include at least 6” of mulch (cypress is often used) or a soil, sand, and coco fiber mix, which will help to maintain the 75-80% humidity the Sailfin Dragon requires. The cage should be misted once a day. Additional cage items include a large, stable water bowl, large enough for the Dragon to soak or swim in, stable hiding spots, and some pieces of wood or branches that can hold a Dragon’s weight below the basking area.


Heating and Lighting

Sailfin Dragons require a basking area with temperatures of 115-120 degrees F. Basking lamps are often placed toward the top of the enclosure with a shelf or branch that would allow the Dragon to be about 12” below the light when basking. In addition, a full spectrum light is required to provide the dragon with UV. The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum 10.0 fluorescent bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure. The fixture can be placed inside the cage underneath the cover or on top of a mesh cover. If the fixture is placed on top of the cage, a glass cage cover should not be used, since the UVB will not penetrate through the glass. Florescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time. It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels. The air temperature in the remainder of the enclosure should be 80-90F during the day, and in the high 70’s at night.


Food and Supplementation

Sailfin Dragons are omnivorous feeders. When they are young, they should be fed daily on crickets, Dubia, and other roaches as well as chopped fruits and vegetables. Insects should be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3. Adult Sailfin Dragons should also be fed whole-prey items such as mice (pinkies or fuzzies), fish, and other seafood as well as ground turkey. Adult Sailfin Dragons may enjoy the largest Dubia Roaches in addition to the bigger prey items.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information.  If you are new to Sailfin Dragons, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.


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