Gila Monster

Gila Monster


Southern Nevada, western Arizona, south east California, southwest Utah to Sonora in Mexico.


Hot, arid and semi-arid country with gravelly and sandy soils, some shrubs and some moisture. It can be found under rocks, in other animals' burrows or in hollows it digs itself.


It is one of only two venemous lizards in the world - the other being the Mexican beaded lizard. The venom is rarely fatal to humans, but the bite is very painful. Venom glands are located at the sides of the lower jaw and open along the outer gum. The teeth are slightly curved and grooved to help the flow of venom. When biting, the lizard will hold on tenaciously and chew, while the venom flows into the wound. The body is pinkish in color, the scales are mottled and blotched, and the face is black.

Gila Monster

This lizard is sluggish, and chiefly nocturnal. It hunts primarily by scent. Fat is stored in the thick tail, and the animal can live off it for months. At such times it is likely to stay in a burrow for weeks. It is a good digger. When it bites, it bites hard, fast and maintains a tight grip.


It mates throughout the summer. It lays 3–5 eggs in damp sand from fall to winter, each about 2 1/2 inches long. The incubation period is 120 days, and hatchlings are 4–6 inches long.

Interesting Facts:

A synthetic version of a protein found in Gila saliva is used as a treatment for diabetes in humans.

Did YOU Know?    
The Gila monster is protected in Utah, Arizona and Nevada by state laws.
Gila Monster
Native Utah Animal
Class: reptiles
Genus: Heloderma
Species: suspectus
Length: 18 - 24 inches on average
Weight: Up to 4 pounds
Average Lifespan: 20-30 years
Wild Diet: small birds, mammals, frogs, lizards, insects, and carrion
Predators: Man, chiefly because their habitat is rapidly being destroyed.
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building: Desert Zone

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