Costa Rica – Home of the Jesus Christ Lizard

If you’re headed to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica on vacation, be prepared to be awed by Mother Nature.

Imagine an iridescent blue butterfly the size of a paperback book, a monkey that howls louder than a coyote and a tree sloth so slow it grows moss. Stay tuned for more about Costa Rica’s amazing creatures in future blogs, but for now let’s talk about the quirky Green Basilisk, nicknamed the Jesus Christ Lizard because of its ability to walk on water. Technically they run on water. How do they do that?

Green Basilisks have long fringed toes on their hind feet. When threatened by iguanas or other perceived predators they stand on their hind legs and run across bodies of water using their tails for balance. They spread their toes wide and run slapping their feet hard against the surface of the water, creating a pocket of air between their soles and the water, which keeps them from sinking. The trick is they have to sustain a speed of 5 feet per second, otherwise, gravity wins and they have to resort to their excellent swimming skills.

Having lived in Manuel Antonio for many years, I’ve seen my share of Jesus Christ Lizards. Recently, I spotted a male by our pool sporting a distinctively high crest on his head and back. The crest impresses the ladies. I approached cautiously for a closer look. He was about 20 feet away but before I could get any closer he jumped into the water on his hind legs and bolted for the other side. I’ll be better prepared next time but you can watch the National Geographic version here.

I’m so grateful to be living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica and grateful to be able to share one of its magical moments with you. Paradise Awaits!


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