If you’ve been to Taronga recently you most likely saw the elephants and probably the giraffes, but did you see one of our smaller residents which has the ability to walk on water?
Inside Reptile World at Taronga Zoo you will find all sorts of lizards and snakes but one of the lizard species has this very special talent.
Sometimes called the ‘Jesus Lizard’ or the ‘Jesus Christ Lizard’, the Crested Basilisk is a member of the iguana family. Unlike most lizards they have one quality which sets them apart from the rest. The basilisk has the ability to run across water for a short distance. This amazing ability is due to fringes of skin along their toes that spreads their weight across the water surface. They move so quickly that their feet barely penetrate the surface before they take another step and keep moving.
Basilisk lizards are usually found close to streams and rivers in rainforests. They remain close to the water so if a predator gets too close, the lizard can quickly dart off towards the water and run across the surface before dropping in and demonstrating their amazing swimming abilities.
Like most other lizards they enjoy eating mainly insects but like the occasional treat of some fresh fruit if they can find it around the waterways. Here at the Zoo their diet reflects their diet in the wild, mostly eating small insects like many of the reptiles at Taronga with the occasional special treat of some fresh fruit.
The basilisk is one of the most spectacular lizards and although you might not be able to see one running on water at the zoo, they are sport very attractive bright green skin colour, which is something to look out for.