Fun Basilisk Lizard Facts For Kids

Rhea Nischal
Nov 14, 2022 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Discover fascinating basilisk lizard facts about its four species, range, age, diet, habitat, and more
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.1 Min

The basilisk lizard is one of the most captivating creatures in the world. There are four basilisk lizard species, namely the green basilisk lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons), the common basilisk lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus), the striped basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus), and the western basilisk (Basiliscus galeritus).

The green basilisk lizard, also known as the double-crested basilisk, is considered to be one of the most stunning lizards of all basilisks.

Its most captivating feature is its huge dorsal crests running down its tail and back. This basilisk lizard ranges between green, brown, red, yellow, black, and blue in color.

These lizard species are known wildly for their unique trait of running across the surface of water! They trap air under their skin fringes and long toes.

On unfolding these fringes in the water, their surface area increases. Then balancing by their tails, they are able to run easily for a short time across the surface of water!

They can run at quite a fast speed with the help of their hind legs and the scales present on their feet.

Because of this astonishing ability, they are also commonly called the Jesus Christ lizard. Their ability to run on water helps them to hunt better and escape from predators.

They are known to prey mainly upon winged insects and spend most of their time in trees or near water. They can be found across South and Central America in  Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica's rainforests!

Check out our eastern blue-tongued lizard and roundtail horned lizard facts to discover more!

Basilisk Lizard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a basilisk lizard?

A basilisk lizard is a lizard group that has four species, all renowned for walking on water! It is abundant in population in South and Central America. The Jesus Christ lizard dwells in trees for the majority of its day or it can be spotted near water.

What class of animal does a basilisk lizard belong to?

The basilisk lizard belongs to the class Reptilia.

How many basilisk lizards are there in the world?

The population of all species of basilisk lizard has not been evaluated yet. However, we do know that the population trends of the western, striped, green, and common basilisks are all stable. They are all widespread and common throughout their distribution range.

Where does a basilisk lizard live?

This lizard can be typically seen in humid lowlands, dwelling in trees of tropical rainforests, or it can be spotted close to water bodies as well. They occur across South and Central America commonly. They can be found across Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica's rainforests.

What is a basilisk lizard's habitat?

This lizard is diurnal (active during the day) and is known to bask in the sun or forage during the daytime. It sleeps 65 ft (20 m) high in trees at night.

When kept in captivity, its enclosure must be large enough so as to reduce the possibility of nose-rubbing behavior (which happens when reptiles become stressed). It might even crash into a glass wall if distressed. Thus the enclosure should have many places for the lizard to hide.

Who do basilisk lizards live with?

This lizard lives a solitary life in the wild and only socializes in the breeding season.

How long does a basilisk lizard live?

Its lifespan can vary between seven and 10 years when kept in captivity. However, its lifespan can be shorter due to predation in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

They are polygynous (males mate with many females in a mating season). The size of clutches varies with the species. These lizards mate multiple times a year and lay eggs in the soil. The incubation of the eggs goes on for three months, after which, the eggs hatch.

The young are independent and can take care of themselves. These animals can camouflage excellently and can go unnoticed if they stay still. Newborn males become reproductively active two years after birth whereas females become active 20 months after birth.

What is their conservation status?

They are all classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List as their population trend is stable.

Basilisk Lizard Fun Facts

What do basilisk lizards look like?

Basilisk lizards have features that are similar to those of a rooster! A basilisk lizard's feet are light and flat. These feet play an important role in the ability of basilisks to walk on water surfaces. Their feet have a large surface area and skin attached to them that helps in catching air.

The double-crested basilisk (green basilisk lizard) is the most visually appealing basilisk lizard. It has a variation of colors on its emerald green body like black, blue, and white along with many markings.

The most attractive features of the double-crested basilisk are its dorsal crests on its back, on its incredibly long tail that is the majority of its length, and behind its head.

The striped basilisk is the smallest of all four species. The tail and back crests are absent in this species and neither do they have a head crest. They possess a checkerboard pattern with black and yellow stripes that extend to the vent's both sides from the eye.

The common basilisk is quite large and has a crest that is very high and fin-like on its back. Its body is cream or brownish in color. A male of this species possesses high crests on its long tail and head.

The western basilisk has a red-brownish underbelly with an olive-green-colored body. It has a small crest on the back and may have a row of white-colored dots or a white-colored narrow stripe. The back flap is absent in this basilisk.

The physical features of a basilisk lizard are similar to those of a rooster!

How cute are they?

These lizards have crests on their body that make them look visually appealing and cute. They also have the ability to run across the water surface with the help of their legs, skin, and feet which makes them quite fascinating to learn about!

How do they communicate?

They communicate through push-up-like movements and also sway their tails to signal other lizards.

How big is a basilisk lizard?

The length of this species ranges between 24-35.8 in (61-91 cm) which is three times the length of a crocodile skink!

How fast can a basilisk lizard run?

This lizard is renowned for its speed and the ability to run across water surfaces. It is able to do this by trapping air under its long toes on its rear feet and skin fringes.

On unfolding their skin fringes in the water, their surface area increases. Then balancing by their tails, they are able to run easily for a short time across the surface of water!

They can run at quite a fast speed with the help of their hind legs and the scales present on their feet. Their top speed is 14.9 mph (24.1 kph).

How much does a basilisk lizard weigh?

It can weigh anywhere between 4.7-21.1 oz (133-598 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no particular names for males and females.

What would you call a baby basilisk lizard?

A baby of a basilisk lizard is known as a hatchling.

What do they eat?

They are known to prey mainly upon winged insects such as dragonflies or beetles. They also consume food like flowers, small snakes, spiders, birds, eggs, leaves, fish, and crustaceans. Birds, mammals, and large reptiles prey on this creature. It successfully escapes predators by walking on water at a fast speed or remaining underwater.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are not poisonous. However, females are known to be quite aggressive when it comes to their food. Pet basilisks may also bite if touched with bare hands.

Would they make a good pet?

The striped basilisk is the most common basilisk in the reptile trade. It may not be as captivating as a green basilisk, but it still makes a fascinating pet. Its enclosure must be of glass and of a large size. It must have plenty of plants so that these animals can climb and mimic their natural habitat.

Did you know...

The common name 'basilisk' of these species is derived from the 'basiliskos' Greek word which means 'little king'!

Juveniles can run on water surfaces farther than adults!

How do basilisk lizards protect themselves?

If they sense danger, they will escape by sprinting towards any nearby water body. They run in a unique way, by holding their forelegs to their sides and using their hind legs only in an erect posture.

Can basilisk lizards walk on water?

Yes, these amazing animals have the ability to run on water! The Jesus Christ lizard has large feet that have skin fringes that help in catching air.

On unfolding these fringes in the water, their surface area increases. Then balancing by their tails, they are able to run easily for a short time across the surface of water! They can even remain underwater for long periods of time too.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our giant garter snake and king brown snake fun facts pages!

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our lizard coloring pages!

Basilisk lizard Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Winged insects, flowers, and small vertebrates, small mammals, eggs, seeds, leaves, crustaceans, and fish

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

5-20 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

4.7-21.1 oz (133-598 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical dry forest habitats, wet and moist forests near streams, lakes, and rivers

Where Do They Live?

colombia, nicaragua, ecuador, Panama, venezuela, mexico, and honduras

How Long Were They?

24-35.8 in (61-91 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Basiliscus basiliscus, Basiliscus plumifrons, Basiliscus vittatus, and Basiliscus galeritus

What Do They Look Like?

Red, blue, green, black, yellow, and brown

Skin Type

Dry scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

habitat loss

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Rhea Nischal

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

Rhea Nischal picture

Rhea NischalBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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