Basilisk Lizards

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

Have you ever seen videos of YouTubers trying to walk on water? They often create some sort of device or trick. What if I told you there is a creature that can walk on water without any tricks. These creatures are called Basilisks Lizards. They can grow from approximately 10 inches to 3 feet tall and 12 inches to 4 feet in length. They are a species of lizard in the Corytophanidae family and are omnivores. Their diet consists of other small lizards, crawfish, eggs, insects, and berries depending on their size.

There are only four species of basilisk lizards: common basilisk (Basiliscus Basiliscus), plumed/green basilisk (Basiliscus plumbiferous), stripped/brown basilisk (Basiliscus Galeritus), and casquehead basilisks (Basiliscus Vittatus). Something so unique about these lizards compared to other reptiles is that they all have the amazing name of the Jesus Christ Lizard. According to Wikipedia and a national geographic video, “this unusual habit of walking on water to escape predators and find food has earned the basilisk the name Jesûs Cristo, or Jesus Christ lizard because we can’t help but say Jesus Christ for witnessing something seemingly impossible.”

The reason behind their ability to walk on water

The main topic of this article is the plumed or green basilisk lizards for their unique bright green scales. However, all of the information below refers to all species of the basilisk lizards. These creatures often live in rainforests and jungles in Central America such as Costa Rica or the tropical rainforests of South America. They have webbed feet like any other sea creature, however due to their environment of high water levels, they have a special toes on their rear feet that allow them to speed run on water. The image is above and as you can see these special toes are longer than their other toes. Meaning when they run on water those long toes are pushing the water downward creating a starting block similar in track and fields. This creates a tiny pocket of air in the water for the basilisk lizards to bring their feet back up to the surface before the pocket closes, and they repeat this motion of slapping their feet against the water until they accomplish their goal of hunting or escaping.

Refer to the diagram below

Here is a video of their amazing ability

Based on the video you can see that when they run their body is slender and moves side to side, this shows how they shift their body weight so they don’t fail. In addition, their tails are so long and whip-like it helps them balance between moving side to side with the ability to move 360 degrees. Combining their special long toe to create air pockets, basilisks lizards have the ability to walk or run on water.



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