Plumed basilisk

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Plumed basilisk[1]
Plumedbasiliskcele4 edit.jpg
Male plumed basilisk
Female plumed basilisk, Boston.jpg
Female plumed basilisk
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria or Iguania
Family: Corytophanidae
Genus: Basiliscus
Species: B. plumifrons
Binomial name
Basiliscus plumifrons
(Cope, 1876)

The plumed basilisk, Basiliscus plumifrons, also called a green basilisk, double crested basilisk, or Jesus Christ lizard, is a species of corytophanid native to Central America.

Geographic range[edit]

Its natural distribution ranges from eastern Honduras, through Nicaragua and Costa Rica, to western Panama.[2][3]

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

The plumed 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.[4] This name derives from the Greek basilískos (βασιλίσκος) meaning "little king".[4] This epithet was given in Carl Linnaeus' 10th edition of Systema Naturae.[4]


Green basilisk (male). Alajuela Province, Costa Rica

Plumed basilisks are one of the largest basilisk species, with an average body length of approximately 10 inches (25 cm). Including the tail, they can reach 3 feet (91 cm) long. Adult lizards 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 their back, and one on the tail while the females only have the head crest.[5] Juveniles are less conspicuously colored, and lack the characteristic crests.[6]


Plumed basilisks are omnivorous and eat insects, small mammals (such as rodents), smaller species of lizards, fruits and flowers.[7] Their predators include birds of prey, opossums and snakes.


The females of this species 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.


Males are very territorial; a single male may keep land containing a large group of females with whom he mates. Most basilisks are skittish, and do not tolerate much handling when kept in captivity.

This lizard 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. In Costa Rica, this has earned the plumed basilisk the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard". It is also an excellent swimmer and can stay under water for up to 30 minutes.


  1. ^ "Basiliscus plumifrons". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  2. ^ Kohler, G. (2008). Reptiles of Central America, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-3936180282
  3. ^ Savage J. M. (2005). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. ISBN 978-0226735382
  4. ^ a b c Robert George Sprackland (1992). Giant lizards. Neptune, NJ: T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0-86622-634-6. 
  5. ^ "Basilisk Lizard Care And Information". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  6. ^ Reid; et al. (2010). The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Cornell University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0801476105. 
  7. ^ "Plumed Basilisk Lizard Care Tips". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 

External links[edit]