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2- Basiliscus basiliscus — Common Basilisk


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Some other names for this species:

Brown Basilisk, Jesus Christ Lizard 

2- The common basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) :

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The common basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) is a lizard found in Central and South American rainforests near rivers and streams. The basilisk is part of the corytophanid family. It is also known as the South American Jesus lizard, Jesus lizard, Jesus Christ lizard, or lagarto de Jesus Cristo for its ability to run on the surface of water.

Common basilisk

Male in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

Description :


The common basilisk can be distinguished from similar species within its range by its large size and the high fin-like crests down its back. Most are brown and cream in colour. Males also have high crests on their heads and tails. Both sexes are brown to olive, and have a white, cream or yellow stripe on the upper lip and a second stripe along either side of their bodies; these stripes have higher contrast in juveniles and fade as the lizards age. Hatchlings weigh a mere 2 g and are 37 to 43 mm long. Adults can grow up to two and a half feet long. Females are generally 135 to 194 g, and weigh half as much as males. The tails of these lizards comprise 70 to 75% of their total length: for example, on an 800-mm-long (31.5-in-long) lizard, 600 mm of its length is tail.


The common basilisk has a large mouth with saw-like teeth on the inner sides of the jaw. They have been known to run up to 7 mph (11 km/h). While the basilisk is most known for its ability to run on water, it is also an excellent climber and swimmer; the basilisk has been known to stay under water for up to half an hour. The average lifespan is seven years in captivity; in the wild, it tends to be less because of predators.

Conservation status




Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification








Species:B. basiliscus

Binomial name

Basiliscus basiliscus
(Linnaeus, 1758)


  • Lacerta basiliscus Linnaeus, 1758

  • Basiliscus basiliscus - Wagler, 1830[2]

When startled, the common basilisk escapes by speeding to the nearest edge of water—and continues sprinting. The lizard runs on only its hind legs in an erect position, holding its fore legs to its sides. This basilisk is so adroit on water because its feet are large and equipped with flaps of skin along the toes that allow it to catch on tiny air bubbles. When moving quickly, the lizard can cross a surface of water before sinking. On water, it runs an average speed of 8.4 km/h (or 5.2 mph), which is just a little slower than its speed on land. Younger basilisks can run 10 to 20 meters on water, while adults cross only a few meters before sinking. Adults do not move slowly, but they weigh more and cannot sprint for as long a time. Once a basilisk submerges, it continues swimming until it is sufficiently far from its pursuer—if the predator has followed past the bank. Although this lizard stays close to water to escape terrestrial predators, it swims only when necessary because some other aquatic animals would eat the basilisk given the chance.

Range and habitat :


The common basilisk is found in tropical rainforests throughout Central America and in northwestern South America, usually living in low elevations, from sea level to 600 m. In Costa Rica, this basilisk can be found as high as 1,200 m in some places. The species ranges from southwestern Nicaragua to northwestern Colombia on the Pacific side, and from central Panamá to northwestern Venezuela on the Atlantic side. In Costa Rica, it is mostly found on the Pacific side of the country. The equivalent species on the Atlantic side is the green basilisk, which occupies similar habitats and has similar biology.[3] It has been introduced to Florida as a feral species.[4]


Diet :


This basilisk is an omnivore; its diet consists of insects, flowers, and small vertebrates such as snakes, birds, eggs, and fish.[3]


Predators :


The common basilisk has many natural predators - large reptiles, birds, and some mammals. To avoid predators, it can conceal itself under leaves on the forest floor and can remain motionless for a long time. When the common basilisk must flee, though, its skill of running on water can help it avoid many predators.


Reproduction :


Females lay three to four clutches of 10–20 eggs a year.[3] Eggs hatch after about three months and the young weigh about two grams and are up to three inches long. Their outstanding camouflage allows them to remain undetected when they remain still.


Female in Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Locomotion on water :


The common basilisk, along with the other members of its genus, take the nickname the "Jesus Christ lizard" or "Jesus lizard" because when fleeing from predators, they gather sufficient momentum to run across the water for a brief distance while holding most of their body out of the water (similar to the biblical story of Jesus walking on water).[3] Basilisks have large hind feet with scaly fringes on the sides of the third, fourth, and fifth toes. These are compressed against the toes when this lizard walks on land; but if it senses danger, it can jump into the water, opening up these fringes against the water's surface. This increases the surface area of the foot, thus allowing it to run on the water for short distances.[3] This occurs in three steps. First is the slap, the downward movement of the foot that pushes water out and away from the leg. This also created pockets of air around the foot. Next is the stroke, the backwards movement of the foot, which propels it forward. Next is the recovery, when the foot comes up and out of the water and prepares to do the slap again. Smaller basilisks can run about 10–20 m without sinking.[citation needed] Juveniles can usually run farther than older basilisks, while holding more of their body above the surface.[3]

Taxonomy and etymology :


The common basilisk is named for the creature of Greek mythology made up of parts of a rooster, snake, and lion which could turn a man to stone by its gaze: the basilisk.[3] Its generic, specific and common names all derive from the Greek basilískos (βασιλίσκος) meaning "little king". The specific epithet was given in Carl Linnaeus' 10th edition of Systema Naturae.[3]

For the external links , refrences  click here to read the full wikipedia article 

Video : 

Can The Jesus Lizard Really Walk On Water?

Care & General information articles : 



Name meaning. Linnaeus originally gave the species the name Lacerta basiliscus , whereby Lacerta is the Latin word for lizard and basiliscus in Greek means as much as "little king". With this Linnaeus played on the head comb of the lizard, which reminded him a bit of a crown. An etymological relation to the mythical basilisk is given only indirectly; The lizard was originally given the name Basilisk probably also because of the comb, which reminded of some representations of mythical basilisks with Hahnenkamm. About 10 years after Linnaeus, the Austrian Josephus Laurenti recognized such great differences between the helmbasmilis and other types of lizard that he considered a particular genus justified. In an adaptation of limited creativity, he simply took the already existing species name as a generic name. 


Synonyms. Lacerta basiliscus . 


Relationships. Animalia; Eumetazoa; Bilateria; Deuterostomia; Chordata; craniota; Vertebrata; Gnathostomata; Eugnathostomata; Osteichthyes; Sarcopterygii; rhipidistia; elpistostegalia; Stegocephali; Tetrapoda; reptiliomorpha; Amniota; Reptilia; Eureptilia; Romeriida; Diapsid; Neodiapsida; sauria; lepidosauromorpha; Lepidosauria; Squamata; Unidentata; Episquamata; toxicofera; Iguania; Pleurodonta; corytophanidae; Basiliscus . 


Helmbasilisk belongs to the Corytophanidae, a small group of lizards from the larger group of iguanas (Iguania). Within these the Corytophanidae are derived relatively high. The Iguania was formerly known as a very basic group of squamates (lizards and snakes), but now it is found that together with the creepy species (Anguimorpha) and serpentes, they form a strongly derived taxon, the Toxicofera, within the Squamata form. This is perhaps the most important new insight into the relationship between the various lizard groups. The common ancestor of Toxicofera developed venom-producing glandular tissue in the region of the oral cavity. He gave this property to his descendants, differently modified or secondary. All poisonous lizards and snake species known today have inherited their ability to produce poison from the same ancestor. In the case of the iguanas, for example, the ability seems to have been restored. However, limitations must also be made here: Scientists are currently investigating many lizards and snake species that have hitherto been regarded as non-toxic, whether they produce small amounts or very weak toxins and therefore do not appear to be toxic. However, poison-producing glandular tissue has not yet been demonstrated for helmobilisae. 


Distribution. :


The Helmbasilisk has its distribution area in Central America and northern South America. It is found in northwest Venezuela, In northern Colombia and the south along the Pacific coast to Ecuador. Along the Caribbean coast, the area spreads only to central Panama, but along the Pacific coast it reaches Nicaragua. The species occurs only in high altitudes up to 600 m, only in Costa Rica it also rises up to 1200 m.

Image 1: A male Helmbasilisk ( Basiliscus basiliscus ). Source:


Little dragon. On the surface, Helmbasilisken look like little dragons. The first Europeans in their distribution area seemed to remind them of the mythical basilisk, especially the crest on their heads. Helmbasiliske, however, do not really hatch from eggs laid by roosters, as in the Middle Ages was attributed to the mythological basilisk. And with their gaze they can not kill either.


Like small kites, these lizards are mainly due to their sail-like skin combs on the back and tail. These are quite large in part. The males also have a large comb, reminiscent of a helmet, on their heads. In females this is only very rudimentary. The coloration of the Helmbasilisken is however not so conspicuous. The basic color is a light brown to olive green. From the back to the sides are dark oblique strips, which sometimes have a brighter border. On the upper lip, under the eye and neck, a brighter, sometimes really white strip is formed, another light longitudinal strip runs along the sides of the body. These strains are the brightest and most powerful in young specimens and fade slowly with age. Helmbasilisques are the largest basilisks. The males are twice as large and heavy as the females. The largest known males of Helmbasilisken reached about 80 cm long, 50 cm on the long tail alone. As a result, the animals are quite light overall, weighing a maximum of about half a kilogram. 


Helmbasiliscs are absolutely harmless for humans, which is also due to their small "armament": the sharp curved claws serve mainly to have hold on tree trunks or similar and the bit consists in the front of pointed, slightly bent and farther back , But rather chiselled teeth, which are however rather small and not suitable for large prey or the fight. This bit is neither suitable for a single hunter nor for a pure herbivore - it is typical for a reptilian omnivorous. Helmbasilisken's menu includes insects, spiders, even smaller lizards, snails, frogs and even fish (for example Guppy relatives), supplemented by flowers and fruits. Studies of gastric contents in helminthasis in Costa Rica revealed,

Image 2: A female Helmbasilisk ( Basiliscus basiliscus ). Source:

What Jesus could do ... In their homeland, the Helmbasilisks (as well as some related species) are also called Jesus lizards. This is associated with a remarkable property: When hunting for smaller insects, on the run or to cross watercourses for other reasons, the animals run (or rather run) over water! To this end, they rise on two legs, align the front body and balance the whole thing with its long tail. This fascinating behavior of the Helmbasilisken was repeatedly examined, from different angles. The main focus was on how these lizards succeeded in this art piece. In some cases it was even observed how a helmasilisk fell into the water, a stretch swam, and then emerged to sprint over the water. It seems almost as if the water for the Helmbasilisken at least if they run also nothing else as solid ground. And this appearance is in some sense true: on land, these animals do not run otherwise, they take the same body. It has also been observed that they continue their sprints from land to water without stopping or slowing down. 


The secret is found on the one hand on the feet. The second toe is particularly long and is also longer in relation to the foot in the adult helmets, which increases the buoyancy on contact with water. The third, fourth and fifth toe have scalps, which are spread over the water during the race and are held in their intermediate spaces when in contact with the water air cushion. This increases the contact area and distributes the weight better. The air cushion finally forms a kind of air bubble around the foot. At the same time, the secret is that the legs are moved so fast that the contact with the water surface is only short - before the foot can sink too far, it is moved further. In doing so, the foot bounces again within the air bubble formed around it - before the air bubble collapses again. It is also important that there is always a foot in the water at the sprint, but also always a foot straight in the air. Helmbasmilis can reach remarkable speeds with the size of the individual apparently not playing an important role. In the case of the largest specimens, the range of physical parameters which must be adhered to for a successful water-pressure changes - also due to the higher weight - on the other hand, they can also produce more energy which, however, is lower in relation to their body weight. In some cases they only run over the water with barely one meter per second, but the lizards turn up correctly for longer distances. They then reach speeds of more than three meters per second and, in a few moments, overcome distances of up to 20 m. After that, however, is normally concluded. Helmbasilisks are then usually exhausted. This form of bipedal movement is energetically relatively inefficient. The muscles of the hind legs must have a lot of energy, To accomplish the sprint and the metabolism of the intermittent lizards can provide only a limited amount of energy. This can also be expressed in figures. The body of a lizard the size of a helmbasmis provides an estimated 135 joules per second and kilograms of body weight. A run above the water consumes about 29 joules in a Helmbasilisken. A little more than 20% of the available energy is therefore on it. The rest is needed for other life processes of the body. The lizard can not do more for a run. Incidentally, it was also calculated that humans would have to be 30 m per second fast, in order to run also over the water. This is at best impossible and would also break the energy supply of our metabolism. To run up a hill, a man needs about 20 joules per second and kilograms of body weight. A hypothetical run over the water would require fifteenfold of energy.

Video: A short video showing Helmbasilisken ( Basiliscus basiliscus ) in the natural habitat - and, of course, running over the water! Source: Geographic :

Picture 3: The watercourse of a Helmbasilisken ( Basiliscus basiliscus ) in three statues from the high-speed camera (ac). Below are sketches showing how the foot forms an air bubble around the water (df). Source: Glasheen & McMahon 1996a.

Life and reproduction. Helmbasmis are typical rainforest inhabitants in Central America. They live here mainly along watercourses and around lakes. On the ground or in the water the lizards mostly keep themselves hunting or simply changing the location. They usually move more in the branches of trees and undergrowth. Helmbasilisks inhabit relatively stable areas, which range from 500 to 1000 m² depending on the area. The background is quite simple: the food supply in such a region can vary slightly from region to region, and in some parts of the area there is also a change between rain and dry weather. Then the food supply changes and the lizard needs a larger or smaller area to cover its needs. These environmental conditions also influence other aspects of the biology of the helmets, as can be seen from the propagation and growth patterns. In principle, Helmbasilisken plant themselves throughout the year. However, in areas with rain and dry weather, Helmbasilisken mate in the rainy season. The longer the drying times last, the lower the reproductive activity. In addition, the growth rate of the females mainly varies with the rain and dry season. In males, on the other hand, the growth rate varies from site to site, possibly depending on how many other males to compete. In a few populations there are hardly or no males, and the females plant parthenogenetically, thus without fertilization. However, the fundamentals of this phenomenon are not as well studied as in other species of lynxes. Helmbasilisken place to the propagation eggs with leathery shell. While they are usually in the trees, they go to the ground and bury their scabies. Helmbasiliske females lay several times a year eggs, depending on local conditions three to eight times. Each scramble can comprise up to 20 eggs. How long the eggs need to slip depends on the ambient temperature. At this time, the eggs are also slightly larger and heavier because the growing embryo stretches the shell slightly. The eggs have an elongated shape, 2-3 cm long and 1-2 cm wide. The boys hatch at the earliest after 70 days, at the latest after 120 days. They are just over 10 cm long and weigh hardly more than two grams. Especially the young animals are exposed to a great enemy pressure - other lizards, birds, predatory mammals. Your best defense alongside instant flight is to hold on - and rely on the camouflage color of their scaly skin. How dangerous life in the rain forest is is illustrated by the fact that usually only a little more than a third of the young Helmbasiliske survive. If a Helmbasilisk has survived the most dangerous time of its youth, it can be up to 10 years old. The animals are matured with a little more than one and a half years. It was often assumed that the young animals and the outgrown Helmbasilisken in the same area go out of the way, That the newly born specimens can reach new and different habitats by means of a better ability to cross water. As a result, young animals and adult helmbasilis would live in a spatial separation from one another and thereby avoid direct competition. Slight differences in the physics of water running could support this thesis, but it depends on how much weight one attaches to these slight differences (in my opinion).

Image 4: Digital model of the skull of a male hellebasis ( Basiliscus basiliscus ). Source:

Attitude in the terrarium. The Helmbasilisk is rarely kept private in the terrarium - other related species are more popular, partly because of the more lively coloring. This is a terrarium of this kind. The temperature in the terrarium should not be quite 30 degrees Celsius (only in a few places higher temperatures are allowed) and at night slightly lower, with a high humidity, preferably around 90%. In addition to normal fluorescent tubes, UV lamps and spotlights (these for local heat spots) are recommended for lighting. Of course there should be sufficient planting with enough possibilities for hiding and climbing, loose soil substrate and a water basin (best with running water). The terrarium should also have a corresponding size, In order to be able to accommodate a fully developed Helmbasilisken. However, it was difficult to make a terrarium so large that the animals show their watercourses. The feed offer should offer a lot of variety to the natural needs of the animals: insects (eg crickets and grasshoppers), other animals (eg young mice!), Vegetarian supplements (eg apple pieces, carrot pieces, sprouts and sprouts, dandelion, cress and similar). And to be on the safe side, additional vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended as an addition. When kept in a safe position, Helmbasilisken in captivity are even up to 15 years old. 


Literature :


 Fleet, RR & Fitch, HS 1974. Food Habits of Basiliscus basiliscus in Costa Rica. Journal of Herpetology 8, no. 3: 260-262. Glasheen, JW & McMahon, TA 1996a. A hydrodynamic model of locomotion in the Basilisk Lizard. - Nature 380: 340-342. Glasheen, JW & McMahon, TA 1996b. Size-dependence of water-running ability in Basilisk Lizards ( Basiliscus basiliscus ). - The Journal of Experimental Biology 199: 2611-2618. Laerm, J. 1974. A Functional Analysis of Morphological Variation and Differential Niche Utilization in Basilisk Lizards. - Ecology 55, No. 2: 404-411. Rand, AS & Marx, H. 1967. Running Speed ​​often the Lizard Basiliscus basiliscus on Water. - Copeia Vol. 1: 230-233. (I, II, JA, Valladares, JP & Larson, A., 2003.) Phylogenetic relationships within Iguanidae inferred using molecular and morphological data and a phylogenetic taxonomy of iguanian lizards. - Herpetologica 59, No. 3: 399-419. Shine, R. & Charnov, EL, 1992. Patterns of survival, growth, and maturation in snakes and lizards. - The American Naturalist 139, No. 6: 1257-1269. JW, Reed, TW & Wiens, JJ 2011. Phylogenetic Insights on Evolutionary Novelties in Lizards and Snakes: Sex, Birth, Bodies, Niches, and Venom. - Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 42: 227-244. doi: 10th 1146 / annurev-ecolsys-102710-145051 Snyder, RC, 1962. Adaptations for Bipedal Locomotion of Lizards. - American Zoologist 2, No. 2: 191-203. Townsend, TM, Mulcahy, DG, Noonan, BP, sites, Jr., JW, Kuczynski, CA, Wiens, JJ & Reeder, TW 2011. Phylogeny of iguanian lizards inferred from 29 nuclear loci, and a comparison of concatenated and species- Tree approaches for an ancient, rapid radiation. - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61: 363-380. Doi: 10.1016 / j.ympev.2011.07.008 Van Devender, RW 1978. Growth Ecology of a Tropical Lizard, Basiliscus basiliscus. - Ecology 59, No.5: 1031-1038. Van Devender, RW 1982. *** " Comparative Demography of the Lizard Basiliscus basiliscus . - Herpetologica 38, No. 1, Reproductive Biology of Reptiles: 1 

grounds of Hotel Villa Lapas, Puntarenas province, Costa Rica—April 14, 2001

Adult male basilisks have tremendous crests and sails with which to impress female basilisks, and humans (I know I was impressed, anyway). These lizards are extremely agile and speedy, but they're not averse to posing for a photo.

The pair in the second photo are probably adult females, but could be younger males. Basilisks are usually found near water, and these were no exception, basking on the rocks near a stream.

San Pedrillo, Corcovado National Park, Puntarenas province, Costa Rica—April 15, 2001

The little tyke in the top photo was perhaps the smallest of the numerous basilisks we saw on this trip, about six inches long or so including its tail.

The bottom photo shows another adult male on a log in the forest, backlit by the late afternoon sun. The full-sized ones like this are perhaps 3 feet long including the tail.

Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Golfito region, Puntarenas province, Costa Rica—September 25, 2001

We caught this large female basilisk sleeping at night on a large leaf. When we took her photo by day, she sat still for about two shots and then bolted into the forest.

Here is a complete list of the species we found on this GreenTracks trip.

Hotel Campestre grounds, El Valle de Antón, Coclé province, Panama—January 9, 2014

An hour or two before dusk, a rain shower had just ended, and I started wandering around the hotel grounds to see what might be seen. This adult female basilisk was taking advantage of the last warmth of the day on top of a thick concrete bridge support.

Hotel Campestre grounds, El Valle de Antón, Coclé province, Panama—January 27, 2016

This baby basilisk has the same idea, but did not execute it very well. A minute or two before I took this photo, a false coral snake that was definitely large enough to eat this lizard climbed this vegetation and passed right over the unmoving lizard. Fortunately for the basilisk, false coral snakes are amphibian-eating specialists.

At night, basilisks find what seem like safe places to sleep. It would be hard (for example) for a snake that is large enough to eat this basilisk to actually climb the thin branches required to reach it. Sleep tight, mamma basilisk!

Videos :

Basiliscus basiliscus (Common Basilisk)

Basilisk Lizard Running on Water

Attempt to capture a common basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) in Costa Rica

Common Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) Lizard - Manuel Antonio National Park - Costa Rica

basiliscus basiliscus

Basiliscus Basiliscus

Basiliscus basiliscus attack

BASILISCO " Basiliscus basiliscus " NEW VIDEO IN LIVE COMMENTARY HD 1080 p

Basiliscus : Introduction , general care and further reading 

Basiliscus Species :

                                 1- The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) : PART 1   ..  PART 2


                                 2-The common basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) 


                                  3- The western basilisk, or red-headed basilisk (Basiliscus galeritus)  


                                  4- The brown basilisk or striped basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus ) 



Basiliscus : Introduction , general care and further reading 

Basiliscus Species :

                                 1- The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) : PART 1   ..  PART 2


                                 2-The common basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) 


                                  3- The western basilisk, or red-headed basilisk (Basiliscus galeritus)  


                                  4- The brown basilisk or striped basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus ) 



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