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Brown Basilisk Lizard

Scientific Name: Basiliscus vittatus

Range: Central America from the South of Mexico to Panama.

Habitat: Humid, tropical areas; along shores of rivers and lakes and in trees.

Diet: Omnivores, including: insects, arachnids, worms, fruit, flowers, small fish, baby birds, and small snakes.

Life Span: average 7 years

Description: Basilisks range from 2 to 2.5 feet long. These reptiles have a long, whip-like tail, eyelids, and a body covered with overlapping scales. Basilisks have teeth that are fused to the inner sides of their jaws. There are several types of basilisk lizards and they are as follows: Green Basilisk, Plumed Basilisk, Double-Crested Basilisk, and the Western or Red-Headed Basilisk.
A large, flat, crest adorns the back of the basilisk's head. This crest is supported by elongations of their neural spines.

Family Life: Males are territorial, and will use head bobbing as threat, a gesture and in courtship behavior. They are easily frightened. Females will dig a shallow trench in moist soil in which she will lay 18-20 eggs. After covering the eggs with soil, there isn't any more parental care given. The incubation period is about 8 to 10 weeks. After the eggs hatch, the young live in trees and eat insects that they catch themselves. Females can lay up to 4-5 clutches per season.

Status in the Wild: The Common Basilisk Lizard is currently not endangered.

Nature Notes: Like other lizards, the basilisk can store fat in its tail. Predators include: large snakes and some large birds like Quetzal. The Brown Basilisk Lizard is also known as the Striped Basilisk. Others refer to it is as the "Jesus Christ Lizard" because of its ability to walk on water. They are able to achieve this feat because the outer edges of their toes have long, fringe-like scales that help them walk on water. They can run up to seven miles per hour. Although they are able to run at this speed, when they do run on all fours (or quadruped) it is at a much slower rate. Basilisks are excellent climbers, swimmers, and jumpers.

Personal History: Speedy Gonzales arrived at the zoo in September of 2008.




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