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THE GREEN BASILISK

THE GREEN BASILISK

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According to mythology, the basilisk was a legendary animal with the horns of a snake, the talons of a cock, prickly wings and a spear-shaped tail. It was considered the king of serpents and it purportedly had the ability to kill with its gaze. One remedy devised to sweep such a fearsome animal from the earth consisted of dressing a man in armor made of mirrors: any basilisk who crossed the man's path would see its own gaze reflected in the mirrors and die. The basilisk was the offspring from the abominable union of a rooster and a snake with evil powers, which laid an egg that was guarded by a toad.

Even though it means disregarding the basilisk's legendary villainy, the basilisk is actually a very real reptile. Its graceful anatomy even resembles that of a harmless little dragon. The green basilisk is a lizard species native to Latin America. Its natural habitat ranges from Mexico to Ecuador, in the tropical forests of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. These lizards are arboreal and prefer to inhabit areas near water sources. They choose the banks of small rivers or streams, where they can frolic during the day and sleep at night on bushes with branches over the water.

Under the basilisk name, there are four species of lizards that can be differentiated by the color of their skin and the shape of their crest. The base color of the basilisk is green speckled with light green spots, with the color most intense on its head, sides, and appendages. Different shades of green fade into each other along the basilisk's body, and some brown stripes even adorn its tail. Its abdomen is colored light yellow tones, offering more color. Males have a double crest that, as they approaches maturity, undergoes intense development, giving the animal a stately appearance. In addition, it has another crest that extends from its the neck to the end of its tail. Its claws are stylized but strong.

It is a reptile that does not grow very much; in adulthood, it does not exceed 80 cm, including its characteristic long tail. A nervous, jumpy character is typical in our so-called dragon. Basilisks are somewhat delicate and do not tolerate very much human contact. This little saury is generally very frightened and at the slightest threat, jumps from the branches where it hides into the water, seeking refuge.

What makes basilisks truly peculiar is that they can run on the surface of the water a certain distance before diving in thanks to special scales they have at the base of their hind legs. The incredible speed they can achieve while running is their best weapon for catching the different insects they eat and also for escaping predators. This amazing skill has earned it the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard." The male is very territorial. It habitually moves its head up and down as a warning sign or to attract potential partners.

Basilisks are insectivorous animals. Its diet is mainly comprised of crickets, although it can add variety with silkworms, field cockroaches, grasshoppers, etc. All insects fed to a pet basilisk must be farmed. It is essential before offering the insects to sprinkle them with a calcium and vitamin supplement for reptiles. Vegetables, such as carrots or turnips, and fruits, such as apples and bananas, are perfect to complete the diet of our little dragon.

Baby mice, which are very rich in calcium, can be included in the basilisk's diet occasionally, approximately twice a month. Basilisks that are not yet adults will ingest smaller insects, such as fruit flies.