The basilisk is named after the ancient Greek mythological figure, Basiliskos. This monstrous beast, had a crown-like crest at his head, had a deadly look and spitted fire. In Central America these lizards are also named as Jesus Christ lizards, as they can run considerable distances on the water.


Basilisken – Gunther Köhler  Book
A guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica – Twan Leenders  Book
The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica – Jay M. Savage  Book
Basilisken – Gunther Köhler  Book
A guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica – Twan Leenders  Book
The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica – Jay M. Savage  Book


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Basiliscus vittatus

Living space Basiliscus vittatus
vittatusb250.jpgYou can find the Basciliscus vittatus from Mexico to North-West Columbia at the Caribbean side, as well in the rainforests as well in drier regions. You will find them until an altitude of 1200 m, but the most basilisks you find in the lowlands. The beach and riverbanks are their favourite spots, they prefer more open areas. Sometimes you will find them at quite some distance from water. They are mainly in the morning active, in the afternoon you seldom see them. At the end of the afternoon, when the soil is getting a little cooler, you see them appear everywhere. They have then a short active period before searching night’s rest at sundown.
Contrary to the other basilisks you seldom find them high into the trees, they prefer to stay close to the bottom. If they are frightened, they run away at their hind legs, across the water like the Basiliscus plumifrons and Basciliscus basciliscus, if they are close to water. Also the Basiliscus vittatus you see often at larger numbers together, up to 30 per hectare.

vittatus250.jpgThe Basiliscus vittatus is quite early sexually mature, often already with 6-10 months.
They can breed during the whole year, but the most clutches are produced between March and September. The clutches can have 4 to18 eggs. The first clutches are normally a little smaller, 4 to 8 eggs. Large females mostly produce larger clutches. The eggs are mostly 17 mm in length and 11 mm wide. The eggs swell a little during the incubation period.
The incubation period is at a temperature of 25-28ºC about 50-70 days. Young hatchlings have a length of 11 to 15 cm and weigh 1-2 gram. The young Basciliscus vittatus grows very fast in the first few months, you almost can see him grow by day with an average of ½ cm a day. Semi adult, his growth goes quite slow. In nature the Basciliscus vittatus does not get old, only 2 to 3 years, but in captivity he can get 5 to 6 years old.


The smallest basilisk with a length of, including tail, 45-55 cm. Colour brown/olive. From his head to his tail, he has to yellow/white stripes, which run over the vertical black stripes at his back. These stripes can fade a little when they get older. Their belly is yellowish and their throat orange. The Basciliscus vittatus males have only one crest at their head, this one is a little smaller and a little rounder as with the Basciliscus plumifrons and Basciliscus basciliscus. At their back and tail they hardly have a crest, it is more like a little rim. Females have no head crest.

The Basciliscus vittatus is very attentive/alert, mostly if you approach hiem, he is gonne within a moment. Adults are very stay-at-home, while you see the young ones everywhere. They are very active hunters.
In a terrarium you better cannot keep 2 males together. Some females with one male are fine. Never put a young hatchling with adult basilisks, as they can eat the hatchlings, a tasty prey.


Often they advise for basilisks, a male with 2 or 3 females, a terrarium size of 150x80x180 cm, the height is important as they like to climb. For a couple we have a terrarium of 160x60x110 cm, this size pleases us. They prefer a little pond, so they can drink, bath, swim and cool down. The ideal water temperature is 25-28 ºC. The temperature in the terrarium 28-30 ºC and some heath bulbs, so they can sunbathe. At these spots the temperature can increase to 40 ºC. At night the temperature may cool down until 20-25 ºC. The terrarium needs a high humidity, between 70-90%, at night this may increase until 100%. During the raining season you can sprinkle 2-3 times a day for a longer period, in the dry season 3-4 per week will do.
We have over almost the whole bottom a pond with running water through a cascade. This gives the terrarium a high humidity, so we do not sprinkle. We use an external filter. As the basilisks almost always shit in the water, we do not have to clean the terrarium that often.


The Basciliscus vittatus mainly eats insects (crickets, grasshoppers, walking sticks, wax-moths, morio-worms etc.), but also nest mice, snails, fish and rain-worms, some basilisks like also sweet fruit. Give him a few times a week some ‘pray’. For the young basilisks buffalo-worms, meal-worms, curly flies etc. will do. The Basiliscus vittatus eats more fruit, herbs and seeds than the other basilisks.

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