Lizard watch: Scientists urge Floridians to report brown basilisk sightings

More than 160 specimens have been collected so far this year

Brown basilisk lizard (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

FLORIDA – University of Florida scientists are asking residents to report sightings of nonnative lizards in order to prevent invasive spread.

In a release, UF wildlife specialists say brown basilisk lizards are spreading across south and central Florida and may be having a negative impact on our environment.

“It is important for us to determine where the invasion front currently is, where it might be heading and the number likely to be found,” said Ken Gioeli, a natural resources and environment agent for the UF Institution of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Brown basilisk lizards, sometimes called “Jesus lizards” can be identified by their dark brown or olive color, the yellow stripe down each side of their body, a notable head crest and their ability to run across water. The lizards have long thin tails and can range in size from 11 to 27 inches.

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As of February 2023, more than 160 specimens have been collected at the Florida Museum of Natural History, discovered in counties ranging from Brevard down to Monroe counties, according to the release.

Residents can report any brown basilisk sightings by uploading images here or downloading the IveGot1 app.

The call to action comes as National Invasive Species Awareness Week begins Feb. 20.

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About the Author:

Penny De La Cruz started working at WKMG-TV in September 2021. Before joining News 6, Penny worked at KSAT 12 in San Antonio, Texas.