Nonnatives - Brown Basilisk

Brown Basilisk - Basiliscus vittatus

Florida's Nonnative Wildlife. Species detail.

First year: 1976

Extirpated year:

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: 2 counties  At least 10 years, 4 counties  Less than 10 years

Statewide trend: Expanding

Brown Basilisk
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003

Threat to natives: Unknown, but may eat smaller vertebrates

Species Account: This species ranges from central Mexico south to northern Colombia, but in Florida it is primarily found along canal edges in Dade and southern Broward counties, where it is quite common. Males may be 61 cm (2 ft) long and have a prominent crest on the back of the head and a low, serrate vertebral crest. The body is brown with dark bars and yellowish dorsolateral lines. This alert, agile lizard climbs, runs, and swims well. They run on their hind legs and can run swiftly over the surface of quiet water (hence the name, "Jesus Christ lizards") (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Habitats: Low density suburban development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and small towns, Agricultural habitat, Recently disturbed, early successional community

County First Year Extirpated Year Breeding status Notes 


At least 10 years FLMNH specimens
DADE 1976


At least 10 years (Wilson and Porras 1983)


Less than 10 years Loxahatchee (Krysko et al., in press)


Less than 10 years Two disjunct populations; west of Port St. Lucie and in White City (Krysko et al., in press; G. J. Ward and M. A. Flowers, Vero Beach, personal communication)


Less than 10 years Reportedly common along canals near Clewiston (D. Parker, Lake Placid, personal communication)


Less than 10 years Vanderbilt Beach Park, Naples, plus Golden Gate (Krysko et al., in press)


Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. 278pp.

Butterfield, B. P., W. E. Meshaka, Jr., and C. Guyer. 1997. Nonindigenous amphibians and reptiles. Pages 123-138 in D. Simberloff, D. C. Schmitz, and T. C. Brown, editors. Strangers in paradise. Impact and management of nonindigenous species in Florida. Island Press, Covelo, California.

Krysko, K. L., K. M. Enge, J. H. Townsend, E. M. Langan, S. A. Johnson, and T. S. Campell. In Press. New county records of amphibians and reptiles from Florida. Herpetological Review.

Links to more information

Florida Lizard Identification

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