Gila Monster

Heloderma suspectum                      Helodermatidae

Distribution: Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Habitat: Scrubland, succulent desert, and oak woodland, seeking shelter in burrows, thickets, and under rocks in locations with ready access to moisture.

Appearance: Their black bodies are covered in bead-like scales with bright spots, blotches, or bands of pink, orange, or yellow, which probably warn other animals to stay away. Their bulky bodies, slow moving stride, thick forked tongue, and snorting hisses, reinforce the name Gila monster.

Diet: Eggs, young birds and small mammals.

Remarks: Jaw muscles are strong and after biting its prey it will not release, giving venom time to work. Glands in the lower jaws secrete the venom into grooves in its teeth which mixes with saliva killing or disabling its prey. Venom is very painful to humans but does not usually result in death.