As you cruise along a Costa Rican river, you'll see strange looking lizards go charging from the banks, standing on their hind legs, running across the river—literally “walking on water.” Costa Ricans call them “Jesus Christ lizards.”
The Jesus Christ lizards are more properly known as basilisks—a
colorful name referring to the legendary monsters whose breath and glances
were fatal to those unfortunate enough to encounter them. Basilisks are
quite large, as lizards go, up to three feet long, and the males have
large crests on their heads, backs, and tails. This, and the fact that
they run on two legs makes them look like little dinosaurs.
The name Jesus Christ lizard refers, of course, to their ability to walk
on water. They do this by running very quickly over the water's surface
on their large hind feet, which have flaps of skin along each toe. This
ability is best developed in young lizards, who can run twenty yards
or more over the water without sinking. The ability to “walk on
water” helps the basilisks catch food and escape from predators.
Basilisks eat almost everything, including insects, shrimp, scorpions,
other lizards, snakes, fish, small mammals, birds, flowers and fruit.
Their only natural enemies are raptors, opossums and snakes, who view
the basilisks as potential dinners. To protect themselves while they
sleep, the basilisks bed down in vegetation overhanging water, and, when
the vegetation is disturbed, dive to safety.
Come with us to Costa Rica and meet the Jesus Christ lizards as well
as the many other exotic birds and animals that dwell in the forests
and rivers of this magical little country at the center of the Americas.
Click Here for information on our Costa Rica Tours.