Tricia's Chinese Water Dragon, Reptile and amphibian care page Tricia's Store Herp Sites on the Net Reptile and Amphibian Care Sheets Reptile Health Care Articles Napoleon the Iguana's Home Page Care of the Chinese Water Dragon

Basilisk Care

When purchasing a Basilisk

     While you are in the store attempting to select a healthy specimen:

  1. examine the mouth for signs of mouth rot OR discoloration of the mouth area.
  2. Check the body for bruises, scars, etc.
  3. Make sure all the limbs are ok, tail is ok, eyes, etc.
  4. Basically, take about 10 minutes and go over the lizard looking carefully for signs of problems.
    • Basilisks are VERY prone to getting hurt, and if you don't have experience,
      getting a sick or injured Basilisk could just be that much worse.
    • Ask the store clerks about what they have been feeding the lizard, it's activities,
      and history if possible.
    • Observe the animal for activity, make sure it's alert and responsive. Once you
      are satisfied the animal is ok, if you still want it, go for it. And take it to a
      reptile vet, preferably with Basilisk experience.

Caring for Basilisks

     Caring for the animal is somewhat similar to dragons. They need a large cage with enough water for them to soak himself in. They LOVE water, and will spend a lot of their time in it :)

     Substrate or bedding could be soil or indoor carpeting (astroturf, repti-carpet). The carpet is easier to clean, but the soil allows plants and such, and aids in keeping the humidity up. Live or fake plants in the cage help to create a more natural setting, provide some shelter, help make the lizard feel more secure and live plants can also help keep cage humidity up. Plants that are safe to use are pothos, Philodendron, dracenae (dragon tree), spider plants and some bromolaids.

     They like to climb! So provide a large branch under the UVB light for basking and climbing. The UVB fluorescent light should be a brand that clearly states that it produces light in the 290 to 320 nm range as that is where UVB rays are produced. Brands that qualify are reptisun, iguana 5.0 and vitalight. The UVB fluorescent tube should be set up so that the light is not more than 10 inches above the Basilisk, with no glass or plastic between the light and the lizard as these materials block out vital UVB rays. UVB is important to the health of the lizard because it helps them use the calcium in their diet properly. Without artificial or real UVB (unfiltered sunlight) a reptile can become calcium deficient and become ill with an ailment called MBD.

     Heating the cage properly all depends upon how warm the room the lizard is being kept in is, and what wattage of basking lights you are using, versus the size and type of cage. So I can't really say to specifically use a certain wattage of light bulb for heating. You will have to have two thermometers in the cage, and you will need to keep an eye on the cage temperatures and use various wattages in order to achieve the proper day time cage temperatures for the Basilisk. The day time cage temp should be 84 - 88 F (28.8 - 31.1 C), basking site 95 F (35 C). The night time temperature should be 75 - 80 F (23.8 C- 26.6 C). To achieve proper temperatures night and day many herp keepers use basking lights during the day and a mix of ceramic heat emitters, heating pads under the propped up tank and or night lights (moonlights, infrared) to help keep the night temperatures at the proper levels.


     Like water dragons the diet for the Basilisk consists of pinkies, fuzzies, zophobas and regular mealworms, crickets, and the occasional veggie. The more variety that you can offer the better. Please see my water dragon Diet page for more information about what kinds of food items to feed your Basilisk.

Taming and Handling

     Handle them at least once daily. Spending at least 10 minutes with them to get them accustomed to being handled, used to people and a bit less stressed.

     The more you can interact with them the better- especially from a young age.

      Females are more skittish than males as a general rule... If you do not have a working relationship with your animals as they get bigger, be SURE to wear gloves during handling.

     Basilisks are especially fast, and seem to be able to tell the exact instant you are distracted.. as opposed to running, they seem to want to flip around and bite the offending hand, even if it DOES feed them :) Spend time with them, hold them, etc., and most of them will probably turn out at least handlable..

Diet and coloration:

     Diet and amount of sun WILL cause colour differences in basilisks. Commonly, dealers will tell you that this is a way to tell Wild Caught from CB animals. This is partially true. Basilisks who have seen little or no sunlight do not develop the brilliant green of their wild counterparts. However, some breeders who live in the south house their animals outside, and produce animals which could pass for wild caught specimens.. I'm told that no amount of vitamins, no matter what combinations, will produce the same results without sunlight.. This appears to be one of the situations where sunlight gives off something they need which we are not aware of.. yet..

Basic Care:

Basilisk Basilicus ssp

(b. basilicus, b. plumifrons, b. vittatus, b. galeritus)

  • RATING: intermediate
  • FOOD: crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, mealworms, king mealworms, earthworms, waxworms, pinkies, mice, feeder fish, fruit and vegetables
  • WATER: Large pan of fresh water daily- deep enough to soak 1/2 of body height, or filtered pool
  • DAY TEMP: 84 - 88 F (28.8 - 31.1 C), basking site 95 F (35 C)
  • NIGHT TEMP: 75 - 80 F (23.8 C- 26.6 C)
  • LIGHTING: incandescent basking lights and UVB fluorescent
  • SUBSTRATE: soil and sand mixture, cypress mulch, if bark substrates are used bark pieces must be large so they cannot be ingested
  • NOTES: humidity 80%, well planted enclosure with branches for climbing and hiding, needs large enclosure, arboreal, diurnal

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For more care information

Green Water Dragons, Sailfin Lizards and Basilisks (General Care and Maintenance of Series) by Philippe De Vosjoli

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      Basic but detailed information about the care, diet, and health of green water dragons, sailfin lizards and basilisks.

Anoles, Basilisks, and Water Dragons Anoles, Basilisks and Water Dragons : A Complete Pet Care Manual (More Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett (Contributor)

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     Discussion of the general care of many species of anole, basilisks and water dragons. Excellent information regarding enclosures, cage building, and insect care and breeding.

Eat this Bug Eat This Bug : A Guide to Invertebrate Live Foods for Reptiles and Amphibians by Lynn Davis

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      This book is a guide for owners of reptiles and amphibians who feed insects and other live foods to their pets. Advice is offered for selecting , ordering and raising your own supply of live invertebrate foods. More than a dozen species of live foods are discussed. The book includes instructions on keeping cultures of insects, and recipes & diets for insects.

Last updated
April, 10, 2012

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