Hydrosaurus amboinensis Schlosser, 1768.
OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Soa soa.
These are large, semiaquatic lizards with a pronounced crest on the neck and an enlarged sailfin down the back to the base of the tail. Both sexes have a black and dark green reticulated pattern.
The sailfin lizard occurs in Southeast Asian islands (Celebes, Moluccas, and New Guinea). Another population occurs in the Philippines.
This species is found in trees in the vicinity of water. BEHAVIOR
These lizards are expert swimmers and take refuge in the water. Using their fringed toes, juveniles can run across the surface of water. They spend most of their time in branches overhanging water.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
These herbivorous lizards harbor intestinal endosymbiotic microbes that produce cellulases that aid in digestion of plant foods.
Crests and sailfins of males are larger than those of females and may be used in courtship displays or in fighting with other males. Females lay three to nine eggs. Hatchlings are about 8 in (20 cm) long, about two-thirds of which is tail.
Not listed by the IUCN. Owing to habitat loss and hunting, however, these lizards are now uncommon and could be threatened.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
These large lizards are considered a delicacy. ♦
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