Plumed basilisk

Basiliscus plumifrons

At the Zoo

South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary

Fascinating Facts

  • When chased by a predator, basilisk lizards can run on the surface of water for up to about 50 feet. The toes on the back feet have extra flaps of skin that spread out and add surface area, allowing the lizard to scurry across the top of the water. As their speed decreases, they will sink into the water. They are excellent swimmers and can stay underwater for extended periods of time.

Physical Characteristics

This lizard is a member of the iguana family and has a very long tail that makes up about 75% of its entire body. The tail is used to help with balance. Their color ranges from bright green to dark green and even a blue-green. They have spots on their neck and sides along with a yellow belly. The male lizards have a crest on their back and tail along with a double “plume” on their head.


Basilisk lizards are found in lowland forests of Central America, often near rivers. During the day they spend most of their time on the ground, but at night they sleep up in trees.

They are omnivorous and will eat flowers, fruit, insects, fish, small reptiles, amphibians and birds.

Social Behavior

Male basilisk lizards tend to be very territorial and have been known to keep an area that includes several females with which he will mate.

Status In The Wild

Least Concern – IUCN 2013

Animals & Exhibits