Among the most abundant reptiles in the rainforest are the basilisk
lizards. These alert, agile, speed-demon lizards are quite
difficult to approach. Basilisks are true all-terrain animals
capable of climbing, running, and swimming with equal facility.
They are even able to run over still water when they are startled;
running on their hind legs and holding the body almost upright while
using the tail as a counterweight. The outer edges of the toes also
have long, fringe-like scales that help it to run on water. Because
of this ability to run across water, in certain circles the basilisk
has been christened the "lagartija de Jesu Cristo," or Jesus Christ
Iguanas are another
reptile commonly encountered in the American tropics. These animals
spend most of their lives on the forest floor, foraging for various
plants and occasionally insects as well. In the wild, iguanas tend
to live in colonies where males vie for territory and females. When
a male iguana defends his territory, he may do "push ups" or head
nods to intimidate other males!
crocodiles exist in precariously low numbers in Central America.
Their habitat consists of tropical wetlands. The American
crocodile is distinguished by its narrow, V-shaped snout and
distinctive underbite. It also has specialized salt glands on its
tongue to excrete excess salt from its brackish environment. The
American crocodile is nocturnal and feeds primarily at night on a
variety of fish, amphibians, reptiles and water birds. In addition,
the crocodile is considered to be a good mother. Females of this
species lay as many as 40 eggs in a dirt mound nest. The female then
guards the nest, assists the young in hatching, and may guard
hatchlings during their early days of life.