Mountain Horned Dragon

Mountain Horned Dragon
Mountain Horned Dragon, Acanthosaura sp.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Agamidae
Subfamily: Agaminae
Genus: Acanthosaura
Gray, 1831

Acanthosaura is a genus of lizards commonly known as mountain horned dragons, or pricklenape agamas. They are so named because of a row of dorsal spines which run down the back of their neck. They are arboreal lizards that are found in Southeast Asia. They are medium-sized, ranging from about 7½ inches up to 15 inches in length, depending on species and individual. They tend to prefer higher elevation areas that are dense with vegetation.



Mountain horned dragons are insectivorous, consuming only live food. Common feeders in captivity include crickets, earthworms, silkworms, mealworms, moths, roaches, wax worms, andgrasshoppers. Mountain Horned Dragons require a variety in diet and will often refuse food when offered in excessive redundancy.

Typical Acanthosaura feeding behavior is a sit-and-wait style. They will perch 1 to 2 meters off the ground until they spot their prey, which is often down on the ground. It isn't uncommon to see a spectacular display of aerobatics from Acanthosaura species when hunting food. Mountain Horned Dragons will eat and hunt fish, but most won't submerge their heads to catch a meal.


Females lay their first clutch of eggs about 4 months after mating. They may lay up to 4 clutches total per year, separated by a month or two.

In captivity

Acanthosaura capra at Chester Zoo

Mountain horned dragons are popular pets, and readily available in the exotic pet trade. A. capra is considered the hardiest and most easily-kept species of the genus, and is the most common species found for sale in the United States. While not considered to be difficult to breed in captivity, most specimens available are wild caught.