Plumed basilisk

The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons), also called commonly the green basilisk, the double crested basilisk, or the Jesus Christ lizard, is a species of lizard in the family Corytophanidae. The species is native to Central America.

Green Basilisk, Alajuela, Costa Rica.jpg
Male, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica
Green basilisk female.JPG
Female plumed basilisk
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Corytophanidae
Genus: Basiliscus
B. plumifrons
Binomial name
Basiliscus plumifrons
Cope, 1875[2]

Geographic rangeEdit

The natural distribution of B. plumifrons ranges from eastern Honduras, through Nicaragua and Costa Rica, to western Panama.[3][4]

Taxonomy and etymologyEdit

The Green basilisk's generic name Basiliscus is taken from the legendary reptilian creature of European mythology which could turn a man to stone by its gaze: the Basilisk.[5] This name derives from the Greek basilískos (βασιλίσκος) meaning "little king".[5] This generic name was given in Carl Linnaeus' 10th edition of Systema Naturae.[5]

For the origin of the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard", see § Behaviour.


Male plumed basilisk

The plumed basilisk is the largest basilisk species, with an average snout-to-vent length (SVL) of approximately 10 inches (25 cm). Including the tail, it can reach 3 feet (91 cm) in total length. Adults are brilliant green, with bright yellow eyes, and small bluish spots along the dorsal ridge. Males have three crests: one on the head, one on the back, and one on the tail, while females only have the head crest.[6] Juveniles are less conspicuously colored, and lack the characteristic crests.[7]

Video Clip


The plumed basilisk is omnivorous and eats insects, spiders, small mammals (such as rodents), small birds, small nonvenomous snakes, smaller species of lizards, amphibians, small fish, crustaceans (such as freshwater shrimp and crayfish), fruits, seeds, flowers and leaves.[8]


The predators of B. plumifrons include birds of prey, opossums, coati, and snakes.


Sexually mature females of B. plumifrons lay five to fifteen eggs at a time in warm, damp sand or soil. The eggs hatch after eight to ten weeks, at which point the young emerge as fully independent lizards.


Male plumed basilisks are territorial; a single male may keep a large group of females with whom he mates. Plumed basilisks do not tolerate much handling when kept in captivity.[citation needed]

B. plumifrons is able to run short distances across water using both its feet and tail for support, an ability shared with other basilisks and the Malaysian sail-finned lizard, Hydrosaurus amboinensis. This has earned the plumed basilisk the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard".[9] It is also an excellent swimmer and can stay underwater for up to an hour.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Basiliscus plumifrons ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  2. ^ "Basiliscus plumifrons ". The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ Köhler G (2008). Reptiles of Central America, 2nd Edition. Offenbach, Germany: Herpeton Verlag. 400 pp. ISBN 978-3936180282
  4. ^ Savage JM (2005). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna between Two Continents, between Two Seas. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. xx + 945 pp. ISBN 978-0226735382
  5. ^ a b c Sprackland, Robert George (1992). Giant lizards. Neptune, New Jersey: TFH Publications. ISBN 0-86622-634-6.
  6. ^ Lanferwerf, Bert (2018). "Basilisk Lizard Care And Information". Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  7. ^ Reid, Fiona A.; et al. (2010). The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Cornell University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0801476105.
  8. ^ Spinner, Leo (2018). "Plumed Basilisk Lizard Care Tips". Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  9. ^ "Green Basilisk Lizard | National Geographic". 11 April 2010.

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Cope ED (1865). "On the Batrachia and Reptilia of Costa Rica. With notes on the Herpetology and Ichthyology of Nicaragua and Peru". J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Second Series 8: 93-188. (Basiliscus plumifrons, new species, pp. 125–127).