Smooth Helmeted Iguana/Smooth Helmeted Basilisk

Smooth Helmeted Iguana/Smooth Helmeted Basilisk Corytophanes cristatus

Type of Animal:

Forests, quiet gardens

Ranges from S Mexico to NW Colombia

Gray, olive, brown, black, or reddish-brown lizard w/ irregular blotches, can change skin color, both sexes have crest though males have larger crest, long tail

Insects, insect larvae, worms, other lizards, spiders, young mice

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, herpetoculture, & aquariums

Solitary or small harems of a male w/ 2-4 females

Additional Info:

Young: Leap

Male: 7-8 lbs
Female: 6 lbs

2 months

Life Span:
7-12 years

Body Length:
Male: 5 in
Female: 4.8 in
Young: 3 in

Tail Length:
Male: 12.5 in
Female: 12 in
Young: 6.5 in

Also called Elegant Helmeted Lizard, Forest Chameleon, Iguana de Casco, Perro Zampopo, Casque-Headed Iguana, & Old Man Lizard.

They’re semiarboreal-more at home in the trees but comfortable on ground as well.

They’re ambush predators, though sometimes they actively hunt prey.

These lizards very wary of predators & freeze at approach of danger from up to 49 ft away.

Changing skin color aids in camouflage.

Females lay 5-11 eggs in forest floor depressions.

Males use crest to show dominance/attract females & females use it to show dominance as well as to excavate nests.

Sometimes kept as pets.

Active during day (diurnal).

If camouflage & freezing don’t work to avoid predators, they’ll flee. If that doesn’t work, they’ll compress body, erect crest, expand gular pouch, & bob head. Head-bobbing also used to assert dominance & attract mates.

Nests are 1.97-3.93 in in diameter.

While females don’t take care of young, they will defend nests.

Long legs & grasping toes aid in climbing.

A 3rd eyelid protects vision.

Fun Fact(s):
These lizards can remain motionless for long time periods. In fact, algae, fungi, & plants have been observed growing on them.

These lizards don’t use sun to increase body temp-rather they maintain body temp closer to shadier areas.

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