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Weird Animals - the Green Basilisk Lizard

If you read my Weird Animals articles, then you already know there are some very weird, very strange animals in our wonderful world. But this little emerald green lizard has to be one of the strangest. Let me explain:

I was spending the day in the beautiful, though very humid, tropical rain forest of Costa Rica. A movement on a nearby stream caught my eye. It looked like some small green animal was darting across the surface of the water. Not swimming, not flying, NOT sinking – but skimming somehow across the top of the water.

The natives call this iguana-lookalike the ‘Jesus Christ Lizard.’ Now I was really intrigued. Here was a chance to use my supernatural interviewing skills to learn the lizard’s secret. Carefully, I approached this unusual creature.

Basil in all his emerald glory

Basil in all his emerald glory

me Buenas dias, good morning. Would you have a few minutes for an interview?

Creature – What’s an interview?

me – I would like to ask you a few questions and publish your answers for my readers, Señor …?

Creature – My family name is Basiliscus Plumifrons but you can call me Basil.

Basil sunbathing on a tree branch

Basil sunbathing on a tree branch

Interview with Green Basilisk Lizard

me – Thank you, Basil. I’m delighted to meet you. I would like to learn more about you and your miraculous ‘walking on water’ skills.

BasilNo problema.

me – I know you are called a green basilisk lizard. How did you get that name?

Basil – It is derived from the Greek word, ‘basiliskos’ and means little king.

me – It seems you understand both English and Spanish. Do you also speak Greek?

Basil – Not really – I use Google Translate. (laughs playfully)

me Getting back to the meaning of your name, why ‘little king’?

Basil – See the crest on my head and back. It looks like a king’s crown. Ergo, my name – basilisk – little king. Only guy basilisks have this unique crest. We use it to impress the ladies.

Speaking of ladies, we are unusually happy campers since the ratio of males to females is one male for every two or three females.



me – Where else besides Central America will I find ‘little king’ lizards like you?

Basil – We also live in the tropical rain forests of southern Mexico and northern South America. And recently some of us settled on the east coast of Florida and reside as far north as Fort Pierce.

me – That’s surprising since the winters in north Florida are much cooler than the tropics.

BasilNo problema. We wear tiny little scuba wet suits. Just kidding. We have adapted to the cooler winters by burrowing into leaf litter on the ground for warmth.

We can also burrow into sand for warmth or to hide from predators. Like possums or tourists. (chuckles)

me – When you burrow, how do you keep the sand from getting in your nose?

Basil – I could say I hold my nose. But the truth is, a ring of muscles around both my nostrils prevents sand from entering my nose.

Beautiful but dangerous Quetzal

Beautiful but dangerous Quetzal


me – Do you have a favorite food?

Basil – Pizza! Just joking. We basilisks are omnivores eating a variety of plants, fruit and flowers as well as insects, and small vertebrates like snakes, birds and fish. Any fat we do not use from a meal is stored in our long whip-like tail for later use.

Speaking of diet, predators like large snakes and birds, particularly quetzals, are fond of adding us to their diet. The quetzal, you know, was very sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples. Members of royalty and priests wore its stunning feathers during ceremonial rituals.

Can you find Basil's girlfriend in this photo?

Hint: Look for her striped tail hanging down in the left center of photo.

Hint: Look for her striped tail hanging down in the left center of photo.


me – You resemble the iguana. Are you related?

BasilSi, we are related to the iguana family but spend much of our time in the trees and are never far from a body of water. We grow to a length of about two and a half feet not including our long narrow tail which can be twice as long as our body.

You must have noticed my handsome emerald green color. But some of my basilisk relatives are plain brown and some have reddish heads. Lady basilisks are less colorful.

Basilisk hatchling on top of thumb

Basilisk hatchling on top of thumb

Amazing Hatchlings

me – Speaking of lady basilisks, do pregnant females build nests for their young?

Basil – No, mama basilisks only have to prepare a shallow trench where they will lay up to twenty eggs. Then the mother’s work is done. She leaves the eggs to hatch on their own in eight to ten weeks.

Here is the amazing part. The baby hatchlings, only three inches long and weighing two to three grams, are born with the ability to run (on both land and water), climb trees and swim. They can survive without being raised by an adult.

Basil running on top of water

Basil running on top of water

Jesus Christ Lizard

me – What is the reason for that unusual nickname?

Basil – We basilisk lizards avoid danger by darting across the surface of water. If we are threatened – or hungry – we drop from the tree we are in and fall into the pond or stream usually below. Then we can sprint upright at five feet per second across the water for up to fifteen feet WITHOUT sinking.

me – So that’s where the nickname came from – you can walk on water! That’s unbelievable! How are you able to do that?

Basil – We tie little pontoons to our feet. (laughs hysterically)

me – Be serious, Basil. This skill is amazing.

BasilEs verdad (that’s true)! Let me explain. First, we have specially designed feet that keep us from sinking. The long toes on our rear feet have fringes of skin that unfurl in the water, increasing the surface area.

Second, we have a unique running style since we slap our splayed feet hard against the water as we churn our legs rapidly. This creates a tiny air pocket that keeps us from sinking, as long as we maintain our speed.

Watch Basil run!

Watch Basil run for his dinner.

As we skim across the water, we stomp down hard with our legs like pistons – first one leg, then the other. We look like drunken sailors – apologies to anyone of a naval persuasion – as we stagger from one side to the other using our tail to balance.

me – What if gravity takes over before you reach the other shore?

Basil – We are excellent swimmers and can swim on the surface of the water to shore, or dive under if threatened. We have another skill, too. We can hold our breath under water for up to 30 minutes. (proudly)

me – You ARE a remarkable creature. The U.S. Navy could use Navy Seals with your talents.

Basil – Thanks for the sensational compliment.

me – My pleasure. Thank you for your time and muchas gracias for the interview. Hasta la vista.

More Weird Animals

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    You have probably never seen a platypus in a zoo, because most zoos don't have them. But they do exist in eastern Australia including Tasmania. They are unique mammals who lay eggs instead of giving birth to live baby platypusses - or is it platypusi

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2013. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Learn to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview confidently, and negotiate salary.

Comments for the Green Basilisk Lizard

Shannon Henry from Texas on February 10, 2016:

Amazing video footage! Even more amazing interview. You make learning fun, for sure. I'm spending a bit of my evening exploring some older hubs I missed when they were first published. Glad I found a couple of yours.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on October 14, 2013:

Thank you, Eddy, for the visit, the share and the Up. Delighted you found this 'wonderfully interesting.' So is Basil.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 14, 2013:

A wonderfully interesting hub. Voted up and shared for sure.

Enjoy your day.


drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 25, 2013:

Hi, Dianna. The basilisk lizard may be a little creepy, but you have to admit they are strangely talented. Basil forgives you for the adjective since you enjoyed his dialogue. :)

Dianna Mendez on August 24, 2013:

I love your dialogue with the lizard. I think those lizards that walk on the water are a little creepy. I am reminded of Jurassic Park! Anyway, very interesting post.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 10, 2013:

Me, too, precy, it would be fun to have Basil's talent for walking on water. We might have to modify the physiology of our feet though ... and wearing shoes would be out of the question. :)

Thanks for stopping by, m'dear.

precy anza from USA on August 09, 2013:

Beautiful creature! :) I really enjoyed watching Basil's walked on the water... haven't seen a creature before that's like that :) And of course enjoyed the interview. Maybe he could be an instructor with that talent, I would like to learn how to do that :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 07, 2013:

Thank you, Sherry, for loving water-walking Basil. He's fond of you, too. You certainly know how to write gracious comments, m'dear.

Sherry on August 07, 2013:

Love that little lizard that can walk on water. You are so clever and certainly know how to write and make things interesting.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

I did see your first comment, Ian, but did not immediately approve all the comments so you did not see it when you first perused these poignant panegyrics.

Give my regards to Eulalia. My interpretation of Mrs. Prendergast's answers to my questions will be delayed since it will take some time for me to decipher her remarks. Why? She wouldn't stop eating Battenberg Cake during the entire 2-hour interview. :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Hi, Sue. Happy you found amazing Basil and loved the videos. I watched them again and again since I, too, could not believe how swift these little leaping lizards are. One never knows what one will find in the rainforest.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

OMG, Chris. To mention Google Translate in that fashion is almost heresy. But my lips are sealed. ;)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Hi, Sherry. Thanks for the 'brilliant,' my dear. You know they say it takes one to know one. Hope I can continue to amaze you with my writing and my topics. :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Hi, Cynthia. What a perceptive remark about male humans, m'dear. Basil IS a cool lizard and appreciates your noticing. Thank you for finding this informative and fun. It was fun for me, too.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Thank you, Nell, 'brilliant' is one of my favorite adjectives so we are now BFFs for life. Thanks for loving my interviews, the Up vote and the sharing. That's what BFFs are for.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Nice to meet you, IslandBites. You do know how to make every word in a comment count. Thank you for stopping by and the up vote.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

You are too good to be true, J. Rocco. Thank you for learning and laughing - the greatest compliment I know. You totally rock, too, m'dear. Signed,

the Queen of Hubs. ;)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Basil is so flattered, Patricia, that you chose him as one of your favorites, and he appreciates your insight that he and his relatives are NOT victims - no way!

I'm just a lucky duck that I happened by at the right moment to transcribe his fascinating first-person story. Angels backatcha, m'luv.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

Thank you, sweet Petra, for that outstanding appellation: 'Her Majesty the Queen of Knowledge.' Wow, now that's what I call a COMPLIMENT! Love you, too, m'dear. Hope all is well in your world.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 06, 2013:

So you noticed, Cat, that I believe learning can be fun. Remember that song from 'Mary Poppins' - a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down? Works with learning, too. Thanks ever so for the lovely comments, m'dear. You would have an A+ from me - every time!

As for Basil's ability to store extra fat in his tail, I have observed some humans with the same trait. Heh, heh. Happy you enjoyed the water-walking videos as much as I did. But don't be sad. His supernatural skill keeps the 'little bugger' alive.

When you have the time, take a look at my Interviews with Dead Folks like Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Jack the Ripper, Dracula, Bruce Lee, James Dean, Bonnie and Clyde, Cleopatra, Napoleon - among others. Would love your opinions. Thanks for the button-pushing and the sharing. You ARE a sweetie!

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 05, 2013:

Thank you, Faith, for the 'Dr. Doolittle' appellation which I shall earnestly endeavor to live up to. So happy you enjoyed meeting my walking-on-water friend. Good to know that you appreciated my hint on finding Basil's girlfriend hiding in that shrubbery.

It's true that the male of many animals on our planet is much more colorful than the female. With humans, it appears to be the opposite. Most of the time.

Thank you for your sublime comments and the Up and the sharing. I love that first video, too, with the lilting melody. Your visits, m'dear, are much appreciated.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 05, 2013:

Hi, Gail. I'm not surprised that you may not have been aware of this 'leaping lizard' before but I won't mention it to Basil. He IS sensitive, y'know. Thanks for the kind comments and the Up, m'dear.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 05, 2013:

Thank you, Ian, for noticing my 'knack.' Your visit and comment is much appreciated. Ever so.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 05, 2013:

Basil is overjoyed, Maria, that you got 'jiggy' about him. He apologizes re the mariposa butterfly but he was starving that morning. And he wants you to know that regarding any of your past affiliations with drunken sailors, his lips are sealed. Mine, too.

The tune in the first video IS catchy and fits Basil's stride perfectly. Thanks for all those funny-button hits and the Up and stuff. You are a sweetie.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 04, 2013:

Basil says you are his new BFF, Alicia, since you called him a 'lovely lizard.' And since you love the way I combine information with humor, you have become my BFF, too.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 04, 2013:

Thank you, Pamela, for finding Basil to be a fascinating fellow. Basil thanks you, too. He's a sucker for flattery. Happy you found this to be interesting and humorous as well. My mission has been accomplished.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on August 04, 2013:

I said, "Loved it, drbj. Informative and amusing. You really do have the knack, don't you?", but perhaps you didn't read it.

By the way, Mrs Eulalia Hawkins sends her regards and says she is looking forward with increasing excitement to reading the interview that you had with Mrs Prendergast concerning her collection of Antique Battenberg Cake recipes that she has been collecting since first she tasted that particular confectionery at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, when Queen Victoria and Price Albert invited her to tea there.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 04, 2013:

Hi, Martie. Thanks for being speechless with awe - now Basil has such a big head he is impossible. I agree - there are fascinating creatures everywhere on this planet - some of them two-legged, too. Thanks for appreciating my research - it was entirely my pleasure, m'luv.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 04, 2013:

That is remarkable, John. You and Basil share the miraculous talent of water-walking. Oh, wait a minute! You mean when the river is frozen, right? Clever fellow!

BTW, thanks for the reference to the answer to the question about me in Web Answers. I would not have known about it otherwise. I posted an answer, too. ;)

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on August 04, 2013:

This is an amazing animal. I loved the videos. It's funny to watch them running across the water. What quick little creatures they are

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 03, 2013:

If you hear your doorbell ringing, Bill, it's Basil. He took you for your word and he loves to PARTY! He is the ultimate trickster. Delighted you had a laugh and picked up some info. Thanks for loving my interviews. Hope your weekend continues to be pleasant.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 03, 2013:

Hi, Eddy, thank you for visiting and the Up vote. For some reason, I was not receiving notice of your new hubs so I shall remedy that by re-following you. Cheers, m'dear.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 03, 2013:

Basil and his relatives ARE amazing, Ruby - I share your enjoyment watching them. Their practically supernatural ability to fly across the surface of the water is fun to watch. Thank you for your delightful comments.


Your educational expert on unusual species.

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 02, 2013:

Google translate? Never heard of it. :-D

Sherry on August 02, 2013:

You are brilliant! Never ceases to amaze me with what you write about!

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on August 02, 2013:

Basil is one cool lizard drbj and unlike the male of the human species he can actually walk on water and not just think he can lol! Interesting, informative and fun.

Nell Rose from England on August 02, 2013:

That was brilliant drbj! I love your interviews and they get better and better! and the videos were amazing too, voted up! and shared, nell

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on August 02, 2013:

Great hub! Really funny. Vote up!

J. Rocco on August 02, 2013:

I agree you are def. the queen of hubs. I have read a lot of hubs, but I know I can always learn something and laugh at the same time from reading yours. You totally Rock BJ. Love your hubs.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 02, 2013:

This is one of my favorites, drbj.

And those little guys are born ready to rock and roll, arent' they?? No would be victims are they---off they go at birth.

This is a fascinating critter and isn't it just your best luck that you were there to get an interview???

Angels abound as they head off to you this

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on August 01, 2013:

Basil may be the "little king", but you are Her Majesty the Queen of knowledge made fun and interesting. Love you for that (and all the rest)

Cat from New York on August 01, 2013:


This is what I'm talking about! I would've had an A in Science class if you were my teacher... lol. You have such a Supernatural skill at making something so interesting and clever and funny, yet there is plenty to be learned from it. You make learning fun, that's what it's all about! I've decided that I want a tail for storing unused fat too... lol and I'd also like some pontoon feet :D, well, maybe I'll reconsider that one. That first video, I didn't know if I should laugh or cry! Watching that little bugger running was adorable, but between the music and the mood... I almost could've shed a tear.

This is excellent, I need to catch up on more of these hubs of yours!

I hit every button; couldn't help it! Sharing too!


Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 01, 2013:

Dear drbj or should I say Dr. DooLittle of HubPages,

Thank you for introducing us to your fascinating friend, Basil! How so very clever of you and I just love your weird animals hubs. When I first read about Basil "walking on water" ... I did think of Jesus to be honest.

Your interview is priceless, like no other around these parts! Just brilliant and funny.

I am glad you gave a hint as to Basil's girlfriend hiding there, as I just kept looking and looking hahaha Why are the males always so striking in the animal kingdom in comparison to the females? Guess I will ask God when I seen Him one day.

All of His creatures on this planet are so very intriguing and beautiful no doubt.

That first video, coupled with that song .... LOL Really loved it.

Thank you for such a delight and most enjoyable read here this night.

Voted up across the board and sharing, I must.

Hugs and blessings,

Faith Reaper

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on August 01, 2013:

This is a great hub, cleverly written. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the chuckles and the information. I do not recall ever hearing of such a lizard. Voted up.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on August 01, 2013:

Loved it, drbj. Informative and amusing. You really do have the knack, don't you

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 01, 2013:


I was all jiggy about the Jesus lizard...thinking Basil's running style was reminiscent of some drunken sailors I have affiliated with, no naval insult on my part either...

Then he goes and zaps that beautiful rude was that?!

The song in the first video was surreal and caused me to hit that funny button, oh two, three times! Voted UP and all the rest. Hugs, Maria

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

I love the way that you combine information with humor, drbj. Thanks for the very interesting information about a lovely lizard!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 01, 2013:

Basil is quite a fascinating fellow and the name does seem appropriate. There have some amazing talents to help them survive. Quite interesting and, of course, as always a bit of humor. :)

Martie Coetser from South Africa on August 01, 2013:

Wow! This Lord Basil running on water is totally amazing! I am actually speechless with awe. Too many fascinating creatures on this planet! Thanks so much for taking the time to find them and interviewing them AND sharing what you've learned with us, drbj :)

John Macnab on August 01, 2013:

Phew! Now that I know such a remarkable creature uses Google Translate as I do, I can hold my head up high. Basil and I have something in common; I can walk on water too. I walk on the St. Lawrence every winter.

Excellent interview drbj, and it is true what they say about you in Web Answers.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 01, 2013:

You are so clever and funny. I love these interviews, and this lizard could come and party at my house any old day. :) What a great trick, doing that water thing. LOL

Thanks for the laugh and some really cool information. Have a great day my friend.


Eiddwen from Wales on August 01, 2013:

A wonderful share; so interesting and voting up


Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 31, 2013:

This is an amazing animal/lizard. I watched both videos and was surprised how fast they were and how they had the ability to walk on water. I enjoyed your interview and learned so much about the Green Basilisk lizard. I consider you as my educational expert on unusual species. Thank you...

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