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lizard lizard

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Basilisk Lizard 1

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The lizard lizard, or basilisk, is a beautiful but annoying reptile.

They like to spend their days in the rainforest near rivers and streams, through which they can run quickly without sinking.

Note their colors to help you identify each of the four species. While one species may only be brown and cream in color, another has bright green hues that allow them to blend in with lush Central and South American environments.

5 Incredible Basilisk Lizard Facts!

Male feathered snake lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons) sitting on a tree stump, Costa Rica.
Male feathered snake lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons) sitting on a tree stump, Costa Rica.

©Don Mammoser/Shutterstock.com

Here are some interesting facts about this lizard.

  • Basilisk lizards are sometimes simply called basilisks.
  • When running, this lizard can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Because of their ability to run on water, snake lizards are sometimes called Jesus lizards, in reference to the biblical story of Jesus Christ walking on water.
  • They're pretty cheap to buy as pets, starting at just $3. However, some resellers can charge as much as $20.
  • One of the Basilisk's many adaptations are the rims on its feet. These adaptations allow the lizard to run on water without sinking.

scientific name

The scientific name for the snake lizard is Basiliscus , and the genus covers four different species – B. plumifrons, B. basiliscus, B. galeritus and B. vittatus. They are part of the Corytophanidae class of reptiles. The name comes from the Greek word "basilískos", which literally means "little king".

evolution and origin

Because of its tendency to skim the water for short distances, this ancient species was also the earliest ancestor of the modern basilisk, commonly known as the Jesus lizard. 48 million years ago, the Wyoming rainforest was home to the earliest Corytophanidae.

The tropical jungles of Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama are home to the basilisk. They live at altitudes between sea level and 2,542 feet and are considered half arboreal and half aquatic.

The green basilisk's long-toed hind legs, fringed skin, and distinctive scales on its feet allow it to run through water like other basilisk lizards. Its feet slap the ground as it moves, creating an air pocket that keeps them from sinking.


Part of the reason the basilisk lizard is so interesting to the public is because of its incredible colors. Depending on the species, you can find them in red, green, blue or even yellow. The lizard's color helps identify which species they might belong to.

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Common basilisks, for example, are brown and cream. Feathered basilisks, on the other hand, range in color from bright green to dark green, with some even eventually turning blue-green. It's easy to identify because they usually have a yellow belly and a spot on the neck.

Generally speaking, the tail accounts for about 75% of the lizard's total length. Average length (including tail) is about 2.5 feet long. Their feet have unique adaptations — such as hinges and hollow bones — to help them stay above water.

Colorful blue lizard lizard in a terrarium. Basilisk lizards come in a variety of fun colors.
Colorful blue lizard lizard in a terrarium. Basilisk lizards come in a variety of fun colors.

©Peter Ekvall/Shutterstock.com


Lizard lizards are beautiful, but never approach them in the wild. They are not friendly and they become very timid and scared around humans. They are known for running over water so they can escape predators and run towards their prey.

Lizards like to live alone. Their days are often busy foraging for food or basking by the water. If they choose to sleep in trees, they can reach up to 20 meters.


If you want to find snake lizards, you need to travel to Central and South America. This lizard prefers to live in the rainforest, close to the waters they like to run through. They will seek out places near rivers and streams, which are also their main hunting grounds.

These creators are part aquatic and part arboreal, living at altitudes up to 775 meters above sea level.


Lizards The diet of lizards varies by species, but they are generally omnivorous. They prefer to eat winged insects, although they will eat smaller prey that can be found near the waters they inhabit. Their diet is 20 to 30 percent plants, with the remainder a combination of insects, spiders, small mammals, snails, and small lizards.

Predators and Threats

Green crested lizard sitting on desert sand.
Green crested lizard sitting on desert sand.

©Vladislav Gajic/Shutterstock.com

Lizards Lizards are valuable predators that feed primarily on insects. To catch them, lizards search for prey in trees and even in the air.

They will chase their prey until they catch it, although as pets their food is more readily available. Running on water helps them both hunt and evade prey. It can reach speeds of up to 15 mph when traveling on water.

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As pets, baby basilisk lizards require up to three meals a day and can eat as much as they can in as little as ten minutes. More than 70 percent of their diet is insects and other animals, with the rest being plants.

What Eats Basilisk Lizards?

Common predators of these lizards include large birds, snakes, fish, and other reptiles. The basilisk's biggest predator is the quetzal, which is a bird.


Each basilisk has a variety of different foods. While all four species are omnivorous, the feathered lizard lizard (also known as the green lizard lizard) prefers to eat mostly meat. They stay near water so they can eat frogs and fish.

Red-haired lizards primarily eat insects, but they also seek out arthropods, small vertebrates, and fish. Common snake lizards prefer a similar diet, but they will also eat freshwater shrimp, small birds, small reptiles, and small mammals. Juvenile basilisks tend to rely primarily on insects as their source of nutrition.

Brown basilisks tend to be the most flexible and more opportunistic in their diet. Given the choice, they tend to eat aquatic larvae, insects, grasshoppers and scorpions.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

lizard lizard
Green basilisk (Basiliscus plumiforms) or Jesus Christ lizard. This impressive lizard can run across water! This one takes a break.


Mating between these lizards is a unique process. While females can mate with only one male during mating season, males will take multiple mates.

Females typically produce up to 4 broods in a year, each laying up to 20 eggs. The females lay their eggs in ditches and do not spend any time tending to them. She leaves them behind and the pups hatch in 8-10 weeks, although these lizards take about 2 days in their life cycle to fully molt.

From the moment these babies (also called hatchlings) are born, they can run on land and water in no time. They also swim and climb from birth. They have no parental care as babies and reach sexual maturity as early as 10 months of age, although they are much smaller than their eventual adult size. Most of the time, females reach sexual maturity at a faster rate.

The average lifespan of this lizard in captivity is 7 years. In the wild, they are always in danger to protect themselves from predators, so their life cycle doesn't last as long.


There are four different species of this lizard worldwide, including the common snake, red-headed snake, feathered snake (also known as the green snake) and striped snake.

While the total number of these species is still unknown, the IUCN classifies them all as "not extinct." Currently, one of the biggest challenges facing the global population of this lizard is humans, as they are the cause of habitat loss. The quetzal is a bird that presents one of its natural challenges in the animal kingdom.

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See all 280 animals that start with B

This lizard is a reptile that lives primarily in Central and South America. It lives near rivers and streams and can be found in many different colors. When kept in captivity, it has a potential lifespan of 7 years. It feeds on insectivore and is often called the Jesus lizard because it is known for running on water.

The main reason so many people adopt snakes is because of their beauty. However, they're not the friendliest of creatures, so they might not be a good choice for someone looking to keep a pet. They're easily startled, easily annoyed, and shy, so they don't want to get out of the pen too often.

No, this lizard is not poisonous.

The main food of the basilisk is insects.

The name "basilisk" is directly related to the monster of the same name.

Since these lizards are attracted to water, they tend to wander around lakes, ponds and even pools. Spraying pest control granules and sprays is the easiest way to deal with this problem and protect your home before it becomes a problem.

Yes. Typical prices for basilisk lizards range from $3 to $20. The most commonly sold basilisk in the pet trade is the striped snake lizard, although keeping this animal in the home can present many challenges.

Lizard lizards can often live to be 7 years old when kept in captivity. However, in the wild, there are many predators that threaten their lifespan, so they don't live very long.

Won't. While many lizards can regrow their tails, the snake lizard is not one of them.

Pet owners will need a fairly large tank for their lizard. If you choose to keep two or three snakes together, the best enclosures are at least 3 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 4 feet high. You need to include lots of branches for them to climb.

The reason this lizard can run so fast on the water is because of the edges of the skin on their toes, which spread across the water. They run very fast which enables them to float.

This lizard can run through 33 to 66 feet of water.

They are omnivores, but most of their food is lizards.