Kingdom   Animalia

Phylum     Chordata

Class         Reptilia

Order         Squamata

Family       Corytophanidae

Genus/species  Basiliscus plumifrons


General Characteristics

 Their length, including tail, can be up to 85 cm (33 in).   Adult color is bright green, or slightly blue-green with males having  distinctive, high crests on their heads and backs, which they use to impress females. The females have only one small crest. During the first months of their lives, young ones are a brownish/olive green color, with bright green heads.

 B. plumifrons has been called the “Jesus Christ” lizard, because of its ability to walk on water. Their rear feet have long toes

with fringes of skin that unfurl in the water, increasing surface area. They rapidly move their legs as they slap their splayed feet hard against the water. This creates tiny air pockets that keep them from sinking, provided they keep running fast enough. They can move along the surface like this for 4.5 meters or more. When gravity eventually takes over, the basilisk is an excellent swimmer.


Central and South America. They are arboreal and semi-aquatic; inhabit the trees and bushes of the rainforest, often along riverbanks.

Diet in the Wild:  

Omnivores, surviving on a diet of plant material, insects, fruit, and small vertebrates.


In Costa Rica breeding occurs during the wet season, May to September. Pregnant females prepare a shallow trench where they lay up to 20 eggs leaving the eggs to hatch on their own. Incubation period is about 2 months. Hatchlings are born with the ability to run (on land and water), climb, and swim.


In the wild raptors, opossums, and snakes prey upon the lizards.  Life span is up to 10 years in captivity.

Location: Costa Rica CR02


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