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4 Cool Facts about Basilisks

Learn four cool facts about basilisks from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.


Here is the Green basilisk, native to Central America, and a very unusual lizard, indeed, in terms of his habits of escaping. They're very skittish and jumpy. As you can see, he's not happy being held right now. I'll put one down just to show you what they're capable of doing. Very, very quick animal that lives around streams and riverbeds throughout Central America and has developed a most unique way of escaping his prey.

The Basilisk is also known as the Jesus Christ lizard because Basilisks can walk right across the water. They got a highly adaptive back leg, if you can get that, this elongated toe, and if you can get real close to it there's little appendages off the toe that look like feathers almost. And that gives the animal the ability to get on his hind legs, which they call bipedal motion.

He can run on his hind legs and when he hits the water he pushes off the water ever so gently with those flayed fingers or toes, I should say, on his back legs, and literally pushes down the water and scoots right across it. It's a combination of running really fast and having that adaptive foot that won't sink right down to the water, like you and I would. So native people who saw him said, "Oh, my goodness, he just ran across the water." They named him the Jesus Christ lizard, but it's the Basilisk.

In mythology, you hear the word basilisk and it was always associated with a demonic lizard or a demonic dragon that was venomous, that would be harmful to people. But there's no venom coming from these. If anything, they're just fraidy cats, really, trying to get away from people as fast as they possibly can.

They come in two varieties. This is the green we have here, or the plume. They're just baby ones, but a male Green Basilisk would have a huge crest right there. Very, very beautiful animal in its native, I see them, again, in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, when we go on Eco-travel tours. If you're walking anywhere near a stream, you see something run by, you just saw a Basilisk, the Green Basilisk.

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