|Also Known As:||plumed basilisk
Jesus lizard or Jesus Christ lizard
Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
Size: 2 to 2 1/2 feet long, weighs up to 7 oz.
Range: Central America
Habitat: tropical rainforests
Diet: plants, insects, fruit, and small vertebrates
Breeding: Clutches of 5-15 eggs.
Description & Behavior
Green basilisks are tree dwelling lizards that live in tropical rainforests of Central America. Their long fingers and toes are essential to their tree dwelling lifestyle, as they help them grasp tree branches as they look for food.
Green basilisks prefer to stay in trees that grow near water. One of their effective techniques to avoid predators, such as birds of prey, is to dive from the trees into the water and swim away using the paddle-like crests on their backs and tails to propel themselves. Green basilisks can stay under water for up to half an hour.
Due to the scaly fringes of skin on their feet that help to spread the lizard’s body weight, green basilisks are able to run across the surface of the water for short distances. This unique ability has earned the green basilisk the nickname of “Jesus lizard”.
Green basilisks are part of the iguana family and can grow to approximately 2 feet in length, including their tail.
The crests on the male green basilisk’s head aren’t just for swimming. They’re for show too. The male basilisk uses his crests to impress female green basilisks.
Male green basilisks are aggressively territorial and will chase away any other males that venture onto their territory to ensure he maintains sole mating rights with all the females in his harem.
Female green basilisks can lay 5 to 15 eggs in a shallow trench, which she then leaves for the eggs to hatch on their own. Baby basilisks are born in 8 to 10 weeks and can run, climb, and swim at birth.
Green basilisks are omnivores, eating plants, insects, fruit, and small animals. They are prey for predators such as snakes and birds.