The Brown Basilisk and the Jungle Runner are becoming very common in South Florida
If you live in South Florida then you’re probably already very used to seeing the small anole lizards that run across your sidewalk pretty much anywhere and everywhere. You’re probably also by now very used to seeing the large green iguana’s that have exploded in population over the past decade or so. There’s also the Northern Curly Tail Lizards and the Cuban Anole that have become more and more common over that same timeframe. And there are dozens of other exotic species of lizards that are occasionally seen here and there in select areas of South Florida. But if you live in Dade or Broward County, you have probably started to see two more reptiles species that are becoming very common.
One is called the Brown Basilisk, which is often called the “Jesus Lizard” because of its ability to run across water when it feels threatened. They get to be about 2 feet long and have a very distinctive crest on the back of their head that makes them look somewhat alien.
The one in the picture is one I caught swimming in my pool… He had apparently jumped in to get away from my dogs and was not able to make it over the edge of the pool to make good on his escape. He was surprisingly docile and let me hold him and take a few pictures before I let them go. They are completely harmless, eating insects and occasionally other smaller lizards.
The second species becoming very common is called a Jungle Runner, also called an Ameiva or Dwarf Tegu. These aren’t as common as the Brown Basilisk but I am starting to see them all over Central Broward County. They get to be about around two feet long and have a very distinctive color pattern including a almost luminescent Blue tail.
This particular Jungle Runner was the latest of about six that my dogs have caught in our back yard. His misfortune enabled me to get some good close up pictures of what are normally a very fast lizard that won’t normally let humans get very close. These lizards may be fast but my dogs coordinate their attack and have been very successful at keeping down their population in my back yard. They are having much more success outside my back yard and I’m starting to see them run across streets and sunbathing on sidewalks throughout Broward. Like the Brown Basilisk, the Jungle Runner is completely harmless to humans.
These are just two examples of dozens of invasive reptile species that can be found with active breeding populations in South Florida. But these two species have been particularly good at establishing themselves to a point where there is no getting rid of them.
And now I’m going to be a little irresponsible and say that I’m glad they are here to stay. I love the diversity of animals that can be found in South Florida. I love that visitors can come down here and see stuff that cannot be seen anywhere else in the country. It adds to the exotic allure of Miami and of South Florida in general as a tourist attraction when visitors know they can come down here and possibly see a huge Burmese Python in addition to the expected Alligator. So welcome to the neighborhood Brown Basilisk and Jungle Runner…you help keep South Florida living interesting!