Mexico,  Mexico

The wildlife of the Riviera Maya and its environment XI

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Scientific: Basiliscus vittatus Wiegmann
Maaya t’aan: Tóolok
English: Striped basilisk, Brown basilisk, Jesus lizard

Description: This is one of the most common and distinctive lizard species found in the area. The individuals observed are usually small in comparison with the iguanas, but some can reach a length of 80 centimeters (almost 32 inches).They are greenish brown in color, with two yellow stripes that cross the head and body. Both sexes have crests.

They are usually seen “standing” or running rapidly on their hind legs. Due to the structure of their feet and their speed, they can run on the surface of puddles and streams. For this reason, they are commonly known as “pasaríos” (“river-crosser”) in Spanish, and “Jesus lizards” in English.

Habitat: They live where there is abundant water on the surface. In our region, they appear at the edges of the mangrove forests, especially those that are under constant inundation.

Threats: The destruction of inundated forestlands

Uses and beliefs: Scientists use the presence and abundance of this species as an indicator of the relative health of the ecosystems associated with wet forests.

How to protect it: Avoid the destruction of the mangroves and humid low forests where it lives.

Where to observe it: Along the edges of the low forests

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