Green Basilisk Lizard Facts

The common basilisk is found near rivers in Central and South America.

It has a wide range of habitats and can be distinguished from similar species by its large size.

In captivity, the common basilisk can live seven years and can stay underwater for an hour. It can grow to a total length of 76 cm (2.5 feet) with a tail as long as 70 cm.

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Green Basilisk Lizard Fact for Kids

  • It is also known as a double-crested basilisk.
  • It is bright green
  • It has a long, long tail.
  • They live in trees, but always near water.
  • When threatened, they dive into the water.
  • They can run across the water for about 15 feet
  • Also known as the Jesus Christ lizard
  • Scientifically called Basiliscus plumifrons

How is the Green Basilisk lizard Different?

They are known for their ability to dart across the water very quickly. The common basilisk is a species of lizard that can run on the surface of the water.

They can run on water and can cross the surface of the water before sinking. They run on water to avoid predators and can swim to continue underwater.

They can run on water for short distances by opening up their hind feet against the water’s surface and then slapping the water away from the foot.

They can run across the water for about 15 feet (4.5 meters)

How does the Green Basilisk lizard walk on water?

The common basilisk can run on water for short distances by opening up its hind feet against the water’s surface and then slapping its foot down and backward, which creates pockets of air around the foot and propels it forward.

They can run five feet per second on the water.

Where does the Green Basilisk lizard live?

The common basilisk is endemic to Central America and South America, where it lives near rivers and streams.

They are found in tropical rainforests throughout Central America and Northwestern South America, and in Costa Rica, they can be found as high as 1,200 m (3,900 ft).

Where did the Basilisk lizard get its name?

They get their name based on its resemblance to the legendary monster called a Basilisk

Size and Appearance

Green basilisks are members of the iguana family and grow up to 2 feet long, including their long, whip-like tails. A male has crests on his head and back, which he uses to impress females.


Their diet consists of plant material, insects, fruit, and small vertebrates.


These amazing lizards have natural predators such as snakes and birds.

It tends to live less in the wild due to predators; in captivity, it averages seven years.

When startled by a predator, the common basilisk runs to the nearest edge of the water and continues sprinting, holding its forelegs to its sides. It runs at a speed of 24.1 km/h (or 15 mph) on water.


Green basilisk uses its long, strong hind legs to run upright–and pull its feet up before the water pushes them down.

Who do green basilisks live with?

They are very territorial animals, living mainly with a few female members. Rival males will aggressively defend their territory.

Captive animals usually live seven years; in the wild, they tend to live less because of predators.

Basilisk Lizard Behavior

They spend most of their time basking on overhanging vegetation and foraging for food near water. Basilisks can sprint at speeds over 7 miles per hour if frightened while on land.

Basilisk Lizard Running on Water

They can run at a speed of 24.1 km/h (or 15 mph) on water.

On the water, they pump their legs rapidly, slapping their feet hard. As long as they maintain a fast pace, they create tiny pockets of air that keep them suspended on top of the water.

At some point, gravity will take over. These lizards rely on their swimming skills when that happens.


Hatchlings have the ability to run, climb, swim, and climb. Their mothers leave them to hatch out on their own, but they are born with the knowledge to survive.

How long does a green basilisk live?

The green basilisk lizards’ life span is about seven to ten years in captivity. But in the wild, the survival rate is much lower due to predators such as birds and larger reptiles.

How do they reproduce?

They are large reptiles that feed mainly on insects. Their mating season starts around March and lasts until May. Females become plump within a few weeks of laying eggs. The size of the brood varies depending on the health, age, size, and condition of the females. Young basilisks reach sexual maturity after around eight months.

What is their conservation status?

There is no information available about the total population of the Green Basilisk Lizard. However, it is considered the least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

What do green basilisks look like?

Basilisks are reptiles that are brightly colored. Their heads are triangular, and they have large eyes with round pupils and a pale yellow iris. The limbs are longer than the hind legs, but the toes are flattened and have a scale pattern similar to other lizards. The tail ends with a heavy crest that runs the entire length.

Some members of the Green Basilisk Lizard Species have gray, light blue, or white markings on their bodies. A few of them have black dorsal markings. A Green Crested Basilisk Lizard has a stomach that is light green in color, and the tail might have thin black banding.

Green basilisks have four different types of crests. Their first crest is located behind their eye sockets. Their second crest is located near their spine, while their third crest is located at the base of their skull. Finally, their fourth crest runs down the length of their tail. These crests help distinguish male basilisks from females and juveniles.