Striped Basilisk Lizard

Basiliscus vittatus adult maleOne of our most common neighborhood lizards is the Basilisk lizard, also called Jesus Christ Lizard because of it´s ability to run short distances over the water.

The species of Basilisk lizard that we have in the Tranquilo Bay gardens and sidewalks is the Basiliscus vittatus, a large lizard that we usually find sunbathing while perched on a branch or laying over a rock or a sidewalk.  The males of this brown/grayish/olive coloration lizard, are unmistakable because they “wear” a single cephalic crest with a triangular outline. Juveniles and females may be distinguished from their relatives because of the dark cross bands and longitudinal light stripes.

Jesus Christ Lizard

This lizard is much more terrestrial that Congeners B. basiliscus and B. plumifrons and is strictly diurnal, at night it sleeps under leaf litter near the ground or in vegetation up to ten feet above the ground.

During the main reproductive season, from mid February through October they will lay 4-5 clutches with 2 to 18 eggs per clutch. Incubation time ranges from 50 to 70 days depending on weather and nest location conditions (full sun/shade …) Then, young basilisks (32 – 50 mm) will feed on insects and spiders.  At around six month’s old they will reach their sexual maturity and change their diet to include a considerable amount of seeds, grasses, fruits, stems, in addition to the insects and spiders.

Lizard Panama

Basilisk lizards are large lizards so they are also a valuable prey for many predators like White Hawks, Boas and juvenile vine snakes. Campbell’s Amphibians & Reptiles of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatán & Belize reports that only about 2% of hatchlings survive for two years.

Boa eating lizard Panama

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Next generation in the backyard – Striped Basilisk

One of the things I love of living surrounded by forest is that you often get unexpected neighbors; the last one was a pretty female of Striped Basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus). A while back I had a pretty male of the same species sunbathing in front of my bedroom window every day for weeks.   Now we have a nesting female right in front of our bedroom door.   We were able to see her digging the nest, near our habanero pepper plants and covering the eggs afterwords.  She laid six eggs which is an impressive number for this small animal.

I leave you with some pictures of the pretty mama and her clutch of eggs.

Panama Wildlife Lizard Nesting Bocas del Toro