The Common Basilisk of Costa Rica
Also known as the Jesus Christ Lizard (lagarto de Jesu CristoI in Spainsh), the Common Basilisk gets its other name from its ability to walk on water.
The Common Basilisk is a new world lizard that is found in Central and South America. The Common Basilisk It inhabits lowland wet and dry forests, premontane forests and gallery forests. In Costa Rica, the Common Basilisk can be found at Corcovado National Park, Piedras Blancas National Park, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands and Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.
Mating & Reproduction
Female Common Basilisks produce a clutch of ten to twenty eggs annually. Males regularly dominate harems, and breed with all females in the group while protecting them from younger suitors.
The eggs are left unattended after the female lays them, and around 60 percent of the brood will not survive. The eggs and the young Common Basilisks are preyed upon by raptors and other animals.
The Common Basilisk eats insects, scorpions, shrimp, fish, lizards, snakes, mammals and birds. They can run 10 to 20 meters on the surface of water when they are younger, and it becomes less as they get older. They are unable to run as far when they are older due to their greater size. They use this mode of travel to escape predation, and they are able to do so because of their method of running. They run on their back legs, and they have slightly webbed feet.
The Basilisk is diurnal, and like most lizards it basks in the sun to help moderate its body temperature. It has probably developed its unique defense mechanism to combat predators on land and in the water.
The name basilisk comes from a creature in ancient Greek mythology, and other European and Asian storytelling traditions. The basilisk was reputed to be the king of the snakes with crown on its head, and it appears as parts rooster, toad and snake.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Corcovado National Park, Piedras Blancas National Park, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
Diet: insects, scorpions, shrimp, fish, lizards, snakes, mammals, birds
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: lowland wet and dry forest, premontane forest, gallery forest
Size: length=130-250 mm weight=300-600 g (males are larger than females)
Species: Basiliscus basiliscus