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Common Basilisk Profile

Common Basilisk

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Corytophanidae
  • Genus: Basiliscus
  • Species: Basiliscus basiliscus

Quick Overview

The Common Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus), also known as the Jesus Christ Lizard, is a fascinating reptile renowned for its exceptional running-on-water ability and distinctive crest on its head. Belonging to the Corytophanidae family, this species is native to Central America and is named after the mythical basilisk, a creature from European legends.

Fast Facts

  • Scientific Name: Basiliscus basiliscus
  • Lifespan: Common Basilisks can live for an average of 6 to 8 years in captivity.
  • Size: Adult Common Basilisks typically reach lengths of 2 to 2.5 feet, with their long tail accounting for a significant portion.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, with a diet consisting of insects, small vertebrates, fruits, and vegetation.
  • Habitat: Arboreal and semi-aquatic, commonly found near streams, rivers, and tropical rainforests.

Did you know?

The Common Basilisk earned the nickname “Jesus Christ Lizard” due to its ability to run on the surface of water, resembling the biblical figure walking on water.


Common Basilisks are characterized by their striking green coloration, slender bodies, and a prominent, sail-like crest on their head. This crest becomes more pronounced in males during the breeding season. Their long tail aids in balance and is often used as a powerful whip-like tool for defense.

Size and Weight

Adult Common Basilisks typically measure between 2 to 2.5 feet in length, with the tail accounting for about two-thirds of their total size. They are relatively lightweight, with adults weighing around 0.5 to 1.5 pounds.

Temperament and Behavior

Known for their arboreal lifestyle, Common Basilisks are excellent climbers and spend a significant amount of time in trees. They are also semi-aquatic, often found near water sources. Their unique ability to run on water serves as both a predatory technique and an escape mechanism from potential threats. Despite their wild appearance, Common Basilisks can become accustomed to human presence with proper care.

Fun Fact

The Common Basilisk earned its intriguing nickname, the “Jesus Christ Lizard,” due to its remarkable ability to run on the surface of water. This behavior is achieved by using a combination of rapid leg movements and slapping its feet on the water’s surface.

Habitat and Distribution

Indigenous to Central America, Common Basilisks inhabit tropical rainforests, often near streams and rivers. They are well adapted to both arboreal and aquatic environments, utilizing their surroundings for hunting, basking, and escaping predators.

Common Basilisk

Care Guide

For those interested in keeping Common Basilisks as pets:

  • Enclosure: Provide a spacious enclosure with climbing structures, branches, and a water feature for swimming.
  • Temperature: Maintain a basking spot temperature around 90-95°F (32-35°C) and an ambient temperature in the mid-80s°F (around 29°C).
  • Diet: Offer a varied diet, including live insects, small vertebrates, fruits, and vegetation. Calcium supplements may be necessary.
  • Health Check-ups: Regularly monitor your pet’s health, including skin, eyes, and overall behavior. Seek veterinary care when needed.

Common Basilisks are captivating reptiles with unique characteristics, making them intriguing additions to the world of exotic pets. Understanding their arboreal and semi-aquatic nature is crucial for providing appropriate care and ensuring their well-being.

Three Fascinating Facts About Common Basilisks

  1. Aquatic Escape Artists: Common Basilisks can dash across the surface of water, using their hind feet and unique leg movement to avoid predators, earning them the nickname “Jesus Christ Lizard.”
  2. Breeding Displays: Male Common Basilisks display impressive mating rituals, including head bobbing and extending their colorful crests to attract females.
  3. Mimicry Masters: These lizards are skilled at mimicking the movement of leaves and branches, aiding in their camouflage and evading potential threats in their natural habitat.
Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team