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Breeding the Green Basilisk and Related Species – Part 2

Please see Part 1 of this article for further information on keeping and breeding Green Basilisks (Basiliscus plumifrons), American or Brown Basilisks (B. basiliscus) and Banded Basilisks (B. vittatus).

Nesting Behavior

Female Green Basilisks deposit 7-15 eggs in a 6-10 inch deep pit that they evacuate in moist soil (please see Part I of this article for details).  The front and rear legs are then brought into play in re-filling the nest site. 

Some folks have reported that female Green Basilisks peer into the nest several times before covering it, and then wait near the nest until the fill-soil dries out a bit and matches the surrounding earth in appearance.  I’ve not observed this, but can attest that, once covered, the nest is very difficult to find.  This is especially true in large terrariums or zoo exhibits…in fact, co-workers of mine have found Green Basilisk hatchlings in large exhibits without having been aware that a nest was present.

Incubating the Eggs

The eggs should be removed to a reptile egg incubator set at 82-85 F.  At these temperatures, the eggs will hatch in 60-70 days.  The hatchlings average just over 5 inches in length, and usually begin feeding within 1-7 days.

Hatchling Care and Feeding

Green Basilisk hatchlings are quite hardy if properly cared for, but will languish if not provided with UVB light and vitamin/mineral supplementation as described in Part I of this article.

Guppies and small minnows are an ideal calcium source, and dietary variety, including wild-caught insects, is essential.  Basilisks are one of the few lizards that accept earthworms, and these are an ideal food source for both young and adult individuals.  Soft-bodied roaches (i.e. Orange-Spotted Roaches) and silkworms are also favored.

Young Green Basilisks should be maintained at 80 F, and have access to a basking site of 85-90 F.  Sexual maturity is usually reached by age 18 months, but males may begin to do battle at the tender age of 6 months, and so should be segregated early.

Banded and Brown Basilisks

Female Banded Basilisks produce up to 18 eggs.  The eggs seem to tolerate a wide range of temperatures, and have successfully hatched in 75-150 days at 77-93 F.

Brown Basilisk clutches contain from 8-20 eggs, which hatch in 70-90 days at 84 F.

Further Reading

Please see this National Geographic article for more natural history information.

Mature male Green Basilisks are very impressive – especially when running on water…please take a look at this video.



  1. avatar

    Hey Frank,
    I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with the green basilisks for one of the enclosures. Do you think that it will be okay to have a 3 foot wide cage, with 2 feet wide of water and 1 foot wide of land (the water is 1.5 feet deep, 3 feet tall of air, 2 feet deep)? I’m asuming that they are not really going to use the substrate except for the female making the nest. WHat about a 6 inch strip of land that goes accross all 3 feet of the vivarium? Would that work fine for nesting as well?

    Also, is it okay if I just populate the water area with fish, like minnows, but preferable guppies because they look better. If I am able to sustain the guppies through breeding, would that suffice as a food source? What other foods would i need. You suggested a pinky mouse about once a month. And for insects, could i use purely mealworms once every other day or so (gutloaded of course) or would i still need a variety of insects?


    • avatar

      Hi Jeremy,

      A pair would be best kept in a cage at least 4x4x4, with even more height being ideal. Crowding is hard on them…tend to run the glass, rub their snouts if not given plenty of room, esp. height. The nest itself can be quite small, but most females explore, dig around quite a bit before deciding on a spot. They usually need lots of space, several options..some need to be lured to a site with heat, cover, etc; providing a small area in the hopes she will accept is risky. retained eggs, due to lack of a suitable site or nutritional considerations, is a common [problem.

      Setting up a population of fish rarely works…could be ok as snacks, but attention to diet is critical; CA deficiencies develop quickly; also, they would need scores of guppies regularly to stay sated.

      mealworms should only be used on occasion, and then newly molted grubs are preferable. Superworms, although larger, have less chitin, digested more easily, but not ideal as other than a snack. Variety critical, even with supplements. I;ve observed these fellows in Costa Rica – the range of prey they take is really amazing; we can’t mimic that of course, but do your best to include all the foods mentioned. Sorry for all the additions..but you seem to want to do things well; much better to go with less variety and more room for each. In addition to health and breeding, you’ll see a wider range of behaviors, and enjoy far moer, I am sure.

      Best, Frank

  2. avatar

    I finally got the cage sizes narrowed down.

    I will have 7 feet high, 3 feet wide, and 2 feet deep for the basilisk cage. Three quaters of the bottom will be water, but i will have almost 10 shelves of 2 square feet of substrate, 6 inches deep. This will also have a misting system and large plants that will not be trampled by the basilisks. How large of a group should i keep in this? 1 male, 3,4,or 5 females??

    The boa cage will be 3.5 feet tall, 4.5 feet wide, and 2 feet deep and have all the specifications as in the other post (water bowl, misting, plants).

    I will then have 4 smaller cages for dart frogs and smaller lizards..

    A huge thanks for all the help you have given me in nailing down these descicions and vetoing others haha


    • avatar

      Hi Jeremy,

      My pleasure..nice to see such interest.

      A pair, or at most a trio, would be all you can manage there. Dominance hierarchies often develop among female – even 2 may not work out. Also be prepared to remove female if male becomes too agressive when breeding…in the wild, they can get away from each other; not possible even in huge cages, and males may pursue relentlessly, attack and injure females.

      Enjoy, Frank

  3. avatar

    Aight fer sure. I’ll go with a trio and add a bunch of plant cover areas so they can hide from the male if need be.

    • avatar

      Hi Jeremy,

      Best to be prepared to house females separately if need be; plants and sight barriers are necessary, but will not prevent the male or a dominant female from finding and attacking another.

      best, Frank

  4. avatar

    Aight fer sure. Im planning on having a 50 ish gallon aquarium tank set up, but empty, for quarantines or for any relocating purposes.

    I’m going to start the framing tomorrow, so wish me luck haha


About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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