This lizard’s bright emerald-coloured skin will impress you… if you manage to find it in the Aquarium’s Graham Amazon Gallery. Would it impress you even more to know that it runs on water?
The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) was chosen by a volunteer gallery educator as a staff favourite.
Bob chose this well-camouflaged animal due to the fact that it’s hard to spot, and finding it makes him smile. He says, “I can always find a sloth, parrot or stingray but I can’t always find a basilisk… it’s rare to find.” He adds that even if he sees it briefly, he may not see it again for a while because it blends right in with the trees, walls and rocks.
Bob muses that “visitors in the Amazon gallery have the [fewest barriers] to the animals, [yet] guests will seldom see the plumed basilisk unless it’s pointed out to them.” So it’s a good thing he spends time before every volunteer shift walking through the gallery to get a head start on lizard-spotting.
The other fact Bob likes to share with Aquarium visitors is that the plumed basilisk is nicknamed the ‘Jesus Christ’ lizard in Central America where it is found. That’s because it can run on water using the slightly webbed and very elongated toes of its back legs. Running on water is one of the ways it can escape and stay out of the mouths of predators such as caimans, a relative of the alligator that is also on display in the Amazon gallery.
Look for Bob and any of our other volunteers during your next visit to the Vancouver Aquarium. They’ll surely point out something special that you never noticed before.