Green Basilisk: Characteristics, Care & Feeding

Green Basilisk is a species of lizard, which is more often than other animals from the genus Basilisk kept in terrariums.


The size of an adult reptile reaches 60-80 cm in length, about two or three of which falls on the length of the tail. Basilisk color ranges from bright green to brownish olive. But offspring bred in captivity often have a bluish-green color. The belly of this lizard is yellow. Small white or blue spots can be seen along the back of the lizard, and on the sides, there are black stripes along the entire body to the tail. As the Basilisk gets older, these spots and streaks can become more blurred or disappear altogether. This color allows the basilisks to go unnoticed when they, hiding, sit on the branches.

A distinctive feature of males is a sail-shaped ridge that adorns the head, back and passes to the tail. On the head, this ridge resembles a helmet and consists of two parts, different in size. At the same time, the female has only a smaller ridge on the head, while the males have both. Also, a distinctive feature of males is a blue-yellow throat sac, which they inflate, showing their superiority in the territorial struggle.

The name “Basilisk” these animals owe to their mythical past, in which they were considered very dangerous animals due to the fact that they were little known. And that is why they began to be called “the serpent king”, this is how the word “basilisk” sounds in translation from Greek.

Fleeing from predators, Basilisks can travel up to 20 meters, running on the surface of the water at speeds up to 11 km / h. This is made possible by the anatomical structure of the Basilisk.

Their hind legs are much stronger and larger than the front ones and have special skin sacs located around the toes. These skin sacs open and fill with air only on water.

Origin and Habitats in Nature

Basiliscus belongs to the Corytophanidae family. Previously, this genus was attributed to the Iguanidae family, but relatively recently, herpetologists have identified nine species of helmet lizards into a separate family. The family consists of three genera: Basiliscus, Corytophanes, and Laemanctus. In turn, the genus Basiliski consists of four main species: Basiliscus basiliscus, Basiliscus galeritus, Basiliscus plumifrons, and Basiliscus vittatus.

Reptile species Green Basilisk inhabits the rainforests of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama from the Caribbean side.

The habitats of Green Basilisk are in most cases located in lowlands located 500 m below sea level, but there have been cases when basilisks were found in territories 1200 m above sea level.


This is a lizard, leading a daytime semi-arboreal lifestyle, and therefore it can be more often found on trees, bushes growing near rivers, and water bodies. Sometimes in nature, Basilisks can be seen on stones or logs, where they bask in the rays of the tropical sun. Wherever you meet this amazing lizard, it will in any case be a place hidden from prying eyes. If you get a little closer to the Basilisk, then he may not even move. But if you get too close, then, in this case, the lizard will quickly jump into the water and, using its amazing ability to run on the water, will disappear so rapidly from your field of vision, or slip away among the bushes that you will not even have time to understand anything.
In addition, the Basilisk swims perfectly with full immersion in water. There were cases when the Basilisk spent up to 2 hours, being completely submerged in water.

Conditions of Detention

It is important to note that for keeping it is necessary to choose only Basilisks bred in captivity since animals caught in the wild almost never live long since they very poorly tolerate transportation and changing habitat conditions.

Terrarium: To contain the Basilisk, you will need a large upright terrarium equipped with a pool. The minimum size of a terrarium for two or three adults should be 130x60x170 cm. The size of the pool should be at least the size of a lizard. The water in the pool must be changed every day, or it must be equipped with filters like an aquarium. You can also bring small, unpretentious fish in the water, for example, guppies, thus, you will provide an opportunity for Basilisks to hunt for prey in the water, diversifying their diet. But in any case, the water must be changed as it becomes dirty in order to avoid the appearance of harmful microorganisms.

Substrate: The substrate can be either clean (parasite and pesticide-free) soil, or a mixture of sand, peat moss, and clean soil. In this case, the substrate must be constantly moistened so that it is always slightly moist. In addition, it must be cleaned every two weeks, or, in case of heavy contamination, change completely.

Maintenance Temperature: The background temperature in the cage during the day should be 28-30 ºC, the night temperature can drop to 20-25 ºC. The temperature at the heating point can reach 35-38 ºC.

Lighting: daylight hours for Basilisks should be 12-14 hours. As with other tropical lizards, Basilisks need to install a reptile UV lamp (eg ReptiGlo 5.0). It must be placed at a sufficient distance from the placed driftwood so that the lizard does not get burned.

Maintaining humidity: The humidity in the Basilisk terrarium should be kept at 70-90%. At the same time, the humidity should be higher at night than during the day. In addition, during the tropical rainy season, it is recommended to spray the terrarium 3-4 times a day with a spray bottle. To maintain humidity, it would be an excellent solution to set up a small waterfall that will fall into the reservoir. Thus, you can also solve the issue of water flow in the pool.

Design: Basilisks are quite mobile lizards, they definitely need a place closer to the source of heat and light, where they can warm themselves after swimming. In addition, they love to move around the terrarium, where for this they need to place several thick snags that could withstand all the individuals living in the terrarium at once. It is also necessary to place shelters in case the lizards want to hide. The back wall of the terrarium should be stylized as a rainforest. As with other tropical lizards, live, non-venomous plants with dense leaves can be placed in the Basilisk terrarium. But you should be prepared for the fact that sooner or later your pets will damage them with their sharp claws. In this case, the plants must be replaced.


Basilisk is a fairly omnivorous lizard. As live prey, they need to be offered mainly insects: grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, larvae, as well as earthworms, flour beetles, etc. Also, adults can be fed small mice and small non-poisonous fish.

In the wild, Basilisks consume flowers and leaves of tropical plants as plant food. Captive-bred Basilisks can be trained to consume plant foods that are not part of their diet in the wild. Such food includes wheat germ, as well as slices of bananas, soft pears, oranges, and other fruits, and soft vegetables and berries.

Feeding in captivity must be supplemented with vitamins containing calcium and other components important for reptiles.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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