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Plumed basilisk

Basiliscus plumifrons

Photo: Plumed basilisk
Weights and measures
Length 80 cm
Animal description
The Plumed Basilisk, scientifically known as Basiliscus plumifrons, is a captivating species of lizard that is native to the tropical rainforests of Central America. This remarkable creature is also known by its other names, such as the Green Basilisk, the Double Crested Basilisk, or simply the Jesus Christ Lizard, a nickname it earns from its incredible ability to run on the surface of water.

Physically, the Plumed Basilisk is a sight to behold. Adults can reach up to 2 to 2.5 feet in length, with males typically being larger than females. One of the most distinctive features of this species is its bright green coloration, which provides excellent camouflage among the lush vegetation of its habitat. The males are particularly striking due to their large crests. They have one on their head, one on their back, and another on their tail, from which the name "plumed" is derived. These crests are used to intimidate rivals and attract mates. Females, while less ornate, may have a small crest on their head and are equally vibrant.

The diet of the Plumed Basilisk is omnivorous, consisting of insects, small mammals, smaller species of lizards, fruits, and flowers. Their varied diet, along with their ability to move quickly through their environment, makes them versatile survivors in their natural habitat.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Plumed Basilisk is its ability to "walk" on water. When fleeing from predators, they can sprint bipedally across the water's surface, thanks to their specially designed hind feet. The skin on their feet is fringed, creating a larger surface area that, combined with their rapid leg movements, prevents them from sinking immediately. This incredible adaptation allows them to cover distances of up to 20 feet (6 meters) at speeds of about 5 feet per second (1.5 meters per second).

The reproductive cycle of the Plumed Basilisk is another area of interest. Females lay clutches of 5 to 15 eggs several times a year, which they bury in moist soil or sand. After about eight to ten weeks, the eggs hatch, and the young must fend for themselves. These juveniles are born with the innate ability to run on water, climb, and swim, ensuring their survival in the dense rainforest.

Despite their agility and adaptability, Plumed Basilisks face threats from habitat destruction and the pet trade. Their captivating appearance makes them sought after as exotic pets, but their specific care requirements and the stress of captivity can significantly shorten their lifespan.

In summary, the Plumed Basilisk is an extraordinary creature, embodying the rich biodiversity of the Central American rainforests. Its unique physical characteristics, dietary habits, and remarkable behaviors, such as water-walking, make it a fascinating subject of study and admiration. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure that future generations can continue to marvel at the wonders of this exceptional lizard.
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