Plumed/Green Basilisk Lizard

Plumed/Green Basilisk Lizard Basiliscus plumifrons

Type of Animal:

Forests near water (especially large waterways & inlets), riparian areas adjacent to forests, found from sea level to 2,542 ft

Ranges from E Honduras to W Panama. Introduced in S Florida.

Largest of 4 basilisk species, brilliant green to bright green to dark green to blue green w/ bright yellow eyes, small bluish spots along dorsal ridge, males have 3 crests (1 on head/1 on back/1 on tail), females only have head crest, juveniles less colorful lacking crests, males more vibrant than females, lighter green on belly, females sometimes have more banding than males

Insects, insect larvae, grubs, spiders, amphibians, smaller lizards, crayfish, shrimp, snails, worms, fish, small mammals, small snakes, birds, plant matter, fruit, berries, root/tuber vegetables, flowers, greens, leaves, seeds

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, wildlife centers, & herpetoculture

Solitary or small harems of 1 male w/ 2-5 females

Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Leap

Male: 21.16 oz
Female: 10.58 oz

3 months 

Life Span:
8-12 years

Body Length:
Male: 2.5 ft
Female: 2 ft
Young: 0.5-1 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 1.67 ft
Female: 1.3 ft
Young: 0.3-0.6 ft

Main predators of adults are snakes, birds, crocodilians, opossums, procyonids, & predatory fish. Giant/Green Ameivas eat young.
Males head-bob as threat gesture & to attract females. Females sometimes head-bob when asserting dominance over other females.
These lizards can be very skittish.
They spend lots of time in the trees.
Females lay 5-20 eggs in hole in ground & often lay several clutches a season.
They can run/climb/swim from birth.
Sometimes kept as pets.
Sexually mature at 1.5 years old.

Fun Fact(s):
Also called Green-Crested Basilisk, Double-Crested Basilisk, & Jesus Christ Lizards. Called latter due to ability to run on water. If predator finds them in tree, they can drop into water below, quickly running across surface to safety. To do this, they have special toes on rear feet w/ fringes of skinlike scales spreading out in water increasing surface area of foot making contact w/ water. Can run 5 ft/sec for 15-20 ft before sinking on all 4s & swimming. Can also sustain themselves on all 4s while “water-walking” increasing distance traveled above surface by 4.3 ft.
When running on water, they pump legs rapidly, slapping feet against water. They’re also excellent swimmers & can remain submerged for up to 30 minutes.
Gets basilisk name from legendary reptilian creature said to turn humans into stone by gaze. Basilisk said to be half-reptilian/half-rooster & males have noticeable rooster-like features. Word originates from Ancient Greek word meaning “little king/little prince.” Even today, some native tribes believe these lizards have magical powers.
Plumed/Green Basilisk, male, Brookfield Zoo, taken by me

1 thought on “Plumed/Green Basilisk Lizard


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