Country Matters: A wondrous Florida lizard named Jesus walks on water

There is a species of lizards in Florida called Jesus. Do not Scare. In some cultures, the Lord’s good name appears regularly, sometimes in unexpected circumstances. In Portugal, according to a friend of Sporting CP, Jose Britto, there is a football club manager named Jorge Jesus.

esus is regularly encountered both as a given name and as a surname in the Iberian Peninsula. In Spanish, the pronunciation is “Haysoos”; in portuguese it is what it sounds like in english. Anyhow, there is a simple reason why the “Jesus Lizard” (aka JC) is so called among all of God’s creatures, and that is because it can walk and walk on water when needed.

I had seen these fascinating lizards in a video shown to me by a Florida man named Jack Newman, whom I met at a belated 90th birthday breakfast at the RDS in Dublin – he beats me by a few years – in a touch of countryside Grandeur if you like, in post-horse show and upcoming tiller championship mood. (I didn’t show up in muddy boots, but a wicker staff with a horse’s head was perfectly acceptable. Jack’s ‘bata’ was collapsible to take planes with him.)


Joe Kennedy chatting with Jack Newman over breakfast at the RDS in Dublin

These lizards, or iguanas, can act like large aquatic boat insects and look like miniature dinosaurs from millions of years ago. They are properly called Basilisk, a species in the family corytophanidae, found in South and Central America and called “Lagarto de Jesus”, which was carried to the United States via watercourses. Some squamates have crests like iguanas, and they have spread throughout Florida via the state’s unique water systems, which emanate from the Everglades.

The reptiles can be found anywhere and prey on spiders, small mammals, crayfish, small snakes and smaller lizards. They do not harm humans and are non-toxic. As for their amphibious activity, they hold their bodies out of the water with their large hind feet with scaly fringes on the sides of their toes. These compress on land, but when you jump into the water and sense danger, the fringes open up to increase the surface area of ​​the foot, altering it to run short distances.

The lizards can fly 10 to 20 meters without sinking, keeping their bodies afloat, but may not easily outrun some larger reptiles such as snakes or hunting birds. When not active, the creatures hide under leaves that remain motionless for long periods of time. In addition to being able to skate, they can swim strongly above and below water, hunt swimming pools, and also invade homes to forage for insects.

Global warming may bring some new arrivals and changes to our green and misty island, but this active creature may not be a welcome visitor on inland waterways, especially for our solitary living lizard, a rare creature of old stone walls in the countryside. Green Basilisks are not easy to keep as pets as they require a spacious amphibian enclosure but I have been told they make a wonderful display and have a lifespan of up to 15 years. And their long tails don’t fall off; They are needed for balance when running on land, climbing trees, and walking on water. Country Matters: A wondrous Florida lizard named Jesus walks on water

Fry Electronics Team

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