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Basilic vert © MNHN - F.G Grandin

The plumed basilisk

The plumed basilisk has the ability to run on water on its hind legs, which earned it the nickname the “Jesus Christ lizard”.


Class, order and family :
Sauropsida, squamata, corytophanidae
Lifespan :
Around 15 years
Height :
Around 80 cm
Incubation :
Around ten eggs, which are incubated for around 70 days at 30°
Natural habitat :
Forests, trees
Diet :
Primarily insects but can also eat plants
Native region :
Central america (Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama)
Statut UICN : 

Least concern (LC)


It is a tree-dwelling lizard which favours trees that border streams which it can dive into in the event of danger.

Distinctive features

It can run very fast while upright. Its running speed of around 10 km/h, coupled with the special shape and structure of the digits of its hind legs, give it its ability to run on water.


Present in various legends since Antiquity, the basilisk is a mythological creature of reptiform appearance, sometimes with a crown-shaped crest on its head. 

The word "basil" comes from the Greek basiliskos, meaning "little king".

Basilic vert © MNHN - F.G Grandin
Basilic vert © MNHN - F.G Grandin