Saturday, June 8, 2013

Green Basilisk

Unworthy king...

Provided with a crest that looks like a crown, the basilisk owes its name to a Greek word (basiliskos) meaning "little king." In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance.
...But the green basilisk does not deserve the majesty of kingship, since it is one of the most timid of creatures.  When this iguana lizard is frightened by an intruder, it becomes a thunderbolt and plunges into the water or, amazingly, runs across the surface, as its great agility and speed make it possible for the basilisk to do this without sinking - which is why you will sometimes hear it referred to as the Jesus Christ lizard, you know, "walk on water;" ha-ha!

Speaking of the bible, it is mentioned in there a few times.  One example is in Isaiah 14:29 in the prophet's exhortation to the Philistines reading, "Do not rejoice, whole country of Philistia, because the rod that beat you has broken, since the serpent's stock can still produce a basilisk, and the offspring of that will be a flying dragon." The King James version of the Bible states "out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent."

Anyway, there are several species of basilisk, all of which live in tropical America as its natural range covers a swath from Mexico to Ecuador.  They are distinguished by the color of their scales and the more or less rounded shape of the crest.  A daytime animal, the basilisk always lives in waterside shrubs and trees.  It has a habit of curling its tail when at rest, for whatever reason.  Green basilisks are omnivorous and eat insects, small mammals, smaller types of lizards, fruits and flowers. Their predators include birds of prey, snakes and opossums.

After mating, the female digs a hole about 3 inches deep, at the bottom of which the eggs (about 10 to 20 on average) are laid.  The hole is then covered.  The young hatch and come to the surface about 2.5 to 3 months later.  The males are very territorial when it comes to females and mating, but this is nothing new.

Depicted below, is a green basilisk:

---Image Source:

These lizards grow to 2 feet long on average, but can reach lengths of 3 feet, albeit most of the length is due to the long tail.

---End of Post "Green Basilisk"

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