Green basilisk

Green basilisk

Basiliscus plumifrons

Common name:

Green basilisk

Scientific name:

Basiliscus plumifrons

Alternative common names:


Green basilisks are semi-arboreal lizards found in Central America. They prefer to live near bodies of water and are excellent swimmers. They like spots shaded by trees and bushes, hidden from view. They eat mainly insects, such as crickets andgrasshoppers, but also mice, snails andfish.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Central America.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 2.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

If you have seen this animal, let us know the location. Email:

How does it spread?

Spread through the pet trade.

Why is it a problem?

It competes with indigenous reptile species for food and habitat.

What does it look like?

Description: The green basilisk’s colours range between pale green and brown, with a pale yellow underside. The body has dorsal crests down the back and along part of the tail, with a small gap separating the two dorsal crests. Males have crests on the rear of their heads whereas females have lower crests. Fringes of skin along the sides of the toes gives this lizard the unique ability to run on water to escape from predators (hence one of its common names, Jesus Christ lizard). Adults grow up to 61cm-76cm long, including the tail, and weigh up to 200g.

Habitat: Mainly found in the trees of tropical rainforests, they are never far from water. They are semi-aquatic and, to avoid danger, will drop from trees into water and sprint upright for about 4.5m.

Breeding: Sexually mature at about two years of age. Clutches of up to 20 eggs are produced and, on average, eggs hatch 8-10 weeks after incubation at 28°C.

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