Brown Basilisk (Striped Basilisk)
The Brown Basilisk or Striped Basilisk, Basiliscus vittatus, is a species of lizard native to Central America, but have been introduced into the wild in the U.S. state of Florida. They are also called the common basilisk and, the “Jesus Lizard” because when it flees from predators it runs very fast and can even run on top of water.
Basilisks actually have large hind feet with flaps of skin between each toe. The fact that they move quickly across the water, aided by their web-like feet, gives them the appearance of “walking on water”. Smaller basilisks can run about 30 to 60 feet on the water without sinking. Young basilisks can usually run farther than older ones. If the animal faces danger, it starts to run very fast on the surface of a river or a lake. Then the flaps on its hind feet are opened and thus more surface area is provided for it to run on water.
Adult basilisks grow up to 2 and a half feet long, but most are around a foot long. They weigh up to 22 ounces, but average around 8 ounces.
They live from 6 to 8 years maximum. Their diet consists of insects, small invertebrates, flowers, and some small vertebrates (like snakes, birds, and fish). They are prey to large birds, snakes, fish, other large reptiles, and carnivorous mammals.
Like most reptiles, basilisks are active during the day. Females lay about 2-18 eggs, five to eight times a year. Eggs hatch after about three months and the babies weigh about 2 grams. Their outstanding camouflage allows them to remain motionless and very hard to detect.