Absolute Predator


Gila Monster


Gila Monster  


For a reptile with such a frightening name, Gila Monster isn't what you would imagine. There is more to this lizard than its reputation suggests.  


Gila Monster Origins 


Like other lizards, Gila Monsters have origins that can be traced to thousands of years in the past. These particular lizards however seem to retain features that are similar to their early ancestors. We are in effect able to view what an ancient species of lizard from the genus Heloderma would look like. the Gila Monster derives its name from the Gila River of Arizona. Aside from this part of the U.S. these lizards can also be found in other southwestern U.S. regions as well as in northern Mexico. 


The most likely origin for its reputation is its venomous trait. The Gila Monster species holds the distinction of being one of only two known venomous lizard species. The other venomous lizard is its relative, the beaded lizard.  


Gila Monster Traits 


The Gila Monster is considered the largest American lizard. They are however, considerably smaller than the gigantic komodo dragons. A Gila Monster can grow no bigger than a little over two feet. For their size and weight of about three pounds, they look a bit stout.  


A Gila Monster is easily recognizable by its short fat tail that cannot grow back when cut and its colorful scales. Its scales can come in yellow, black, pink and orange with older lizards showing lighter colors. There are two main types of Gila lizards. One type has a more solid band of light scales. The other type has a reticulated scale pattern which means its black scales interrupt its light colored scales.  


Gila Monster Diet 


The Gila Monster has a very efficient method of locating food. It uses its strong sense of smell and its flicking tongue to hunt for food. Despite its frightening name, it only feeds on bird eggs, reptile eggs, tortoise eggs, birds, lizards and small baby mammals. Like other lizards, Gila Monsters swallow their food whole. In cold winter months, when there is limited food supply and when these lizards hibernate, Gila lizards benefit from the fat stored in their tails.  


Gila Monster Habits 


The Gila Monster doesn't lunge at or attack humans. Although they are venomous, they only bite when they are threatened. They are not natural aggressors because they move very slowly and prefer to live inactive lives. This is also the most probable reason for their choice of equally inactive or slow food. The Gila Monster does not live in groups, preferring to fend for themselves. These lizards are only found with each other when it is time to mate.  


Gila Monster Status 


As with many animals and lizards, human movement and activities have endangered this species. They are considered a threatened species. In the U.S. they are protected by law and should not be sold or bought as pets. In any case, keeping, handling and petting a Gila Monster may prove dangerous. Do not touch any lizard that you may find lost near your property if you aren’t sure of its species.  







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Male Lions
North American Timber Wolf
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Komodo Dragon
Gila Monster
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