Green basilisk, Basiliscus plumifrons, care sheet
Ever growing in popularity on the UK reptile scene, the care of Green Basilisks is becoming a more and more important point, and we thought it was time Swell Reptiles waded in on the subject with some free advice.
Also known as Plumed lizards, Green Basilisks herald from Central America, mainly areas such as Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica. As you can imagine, this means they are best kept at hotter temperatures, usually with a day-night cycle of 26 to 38 degrees celsius.
Size and description of Green Basilisks
Plumed lizards can grow to about 2 or 3 feet in length, with long tails giving them a look not dissimilar to a frilly looking iguana. Lifespans tend to range between 8 to 12 years depending on their general health, and obviously the longer, the better.
Because of their size, we recommend at least a 4 x 3 x 2ft vivarium to give them enough space for movement. Make sure you seal the vivarium as best as possible to allow for the extra moisture required in keeping these guys.
Basilisk Heating and lighting
Experienced reptile keepers will exhibit little surprise to find out that Green Basilisks enjoy both basking heat lamps, and require plenty of UVB light. Think along the lines of a Bearded Dragon setup, where one area of the vivarium is hotter (provided by a basking lamp), preferably timed to drop between 20 degrees celsius at night, and up to 36 degrees celsius in the day, providing an ambient temperature of about 30 degrees celsius. Use a day/night thermostat with a "magic eye" system to automate this system.
UVB light is required for your Basilisk to synthesise sufficient quantities of vitamin D3 too, giving them the ability to convert their dietary calcium into strong bones. Without it, they can suffer from MBD (metabolic bone disease), characterised by a weak skeletal structure, joints, a lack of movement and sometimes even death.
For this reason, we recommend a strip UVB light featuring around 10 to 12% UVB light, changed every 6 months to ensure output is maximised.
Multiple hides is the best way forward for these guys, as they like to change places often to obtain the right temperature and humidity levels, so two suitably sized hides (artificial or natural) placed on the hot and cold sides of the viv is ideal.
They love a humid woodland setup like their Central American home, so use things like coco brick, soils and leaf litter for substrate, helping maintain higher humidity levels, and clean often.
A large bowl of fresh water is always required for keeping hydrated, as well as one for added calcium.
Livefood is the best way forward, so animal lovers who can't stand creepy crawlies are best off not taking on one of these big green giants. Locust, crickets, waxworms and mealworms do just great, fed in 10-minute intervals. Hatchlings require feeding like this about 3 times per day, then once a day as juveniles and about 3 times per week as adults as much as they can eat in ten minutes.
As they get older, some veg is good too. They are omnivorous reptiles and veg can be a great source of vital nutrients.
Females can go together in a big enough vivarium, but NEVER house two males together. Like many reptiles, the males get territorial and ferocious when paired off and injuries to both parties are highly likely. Most basilisks are kept alone and don't suffer from it in any way.
That's the basics, but don't forget you can always ring us on 0161 3514700 if you are unsure about anything to do with these beautiful creatures as its always best to be sure!