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Hydrosaurus amboinensis

(Malaysian Sail Finned Lizard)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Dutch:

Soa soa

Common Names in English:

Malaysian Sail Finned Lizard, Sailfin Lizard

Common Names in German:

Ambon Segelechse, Segelechse

Common Names in Norwegian:


Common Names in Sundanese:

Soa soa

Common Names in Ukrainian:

Молуккська парусна ящірка


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Physical Description

Species Hydrosaurus amboinensis

Malaysian Sail finned Lizards grow to 0.9144m (3 ft ) long. These lizards have a small head with a long snout and oval nostrils near the tip of the snout. On the head and snout there is a crest of mostly large scales and some small scales. The body is cylindrical and compressed ; the back has large lanceolate spine that is covered with small scales. There are four long limbs that are well developed; the limbs can reach the eyes or nostrils. The fingers and toes have lobes of skin . The Sail finned Lizard’s unique characteristic is its tail, which is twice the length of the head and body put together. The tail starts off thick and round at the base , towards the tip, it becomes flattened. The flattening of the tail helps the lizard swim . These are strong built lizards that are dark greenish-brown with black spots .


They are primarily within gallery forest . Juveniles can be found around ditches and humans. In the Philippines today Hydrosaurus amboinensis are disappearing because lumber companies are taking away parts of the forest that the lizards use.


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Sail finned Lizard’s feed mostly on plants but are also known to eat insects, rodents and millipedes; juveniles eat 60 % prey and 40 % worth of plants. Adults eat 50 % of prey and 50 % of plants.


Hydrosaurus amboinensis lives up to 15 or more years. They usually have 5-9 eggs only once a year. It takes about 65 days before the eggs hatch .


Males are combative with other males when courting. Males usually turn to the side showing how big they are to one another. The bigger one is usually more successful and wins the bluff . Females can also be aggressive towards each other in territory disputes.


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Hydrosaurus amboinensis — Manthey & Schuster 1999: 69 • Hydrosaurus amboinensis — Poche 1903: 698 • Hydrosaurus amboinensis — Wermuth 1967: 64 • Istiurus amboinensis DumÉril & Bibron 1837: 380 • Istiurus microlophus Bleeker 1860 • Lacerta amboinensis Schlosser 1768 • Lacerta javanica HORNSTEDT in GRAY 1845: 246< /i> (Nom. Nud. ; Fide Gray 1845) • Lacerta lophura Shaw 1802: 218 • Lophura amboinensis GÜnther 1873 • Lophura amboinensis — Boulenger 1885: 402 • Lophura amboinensis — De Rooij 1915: 128 • Lophura celebensis Peters 1872: 581 • Lophura shawii GRAY 1845: 247< /i> (Nom. Subst. Pro Lacerta Amboinensis Etc.)


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: Holotype: ZMB 7393 [Lophura celebensis PETERS 1872] Synonymy partly after WERMUTH 1967. The name Lophura is pre-occupied by a bird (POCHE 1893).

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Hydrosaurus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 3 species and subspecies in this genus:

H. amboinensis (Malaysian Sail Finned Lizard) · H. pustulatus (Crested Lizard) · H. weberi (Weber's Sailfin Lizard)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 27, 2008:


Last Revised: 2015-01-30