Gila Monster
(Gila is pronounced hee-la)
Heloderma suspectum

Photo
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The gila monster in the video above is in the process of molting, which is why patches of its skin are flaking off.

Range and habitat
Found in lowland deserts of Southwest U.S. and Northern Sonora Mexico.

Natural diet:
Small mammals, lizards, birds, eggs.

Size / weight range:
About 2 feet total length and up to 5 pounds.

Interesting Facts:
• This is the largest lizard in the United States.
• It is one of several venomous lizards in the family Helodermatidae (there are several large Mexican Beaded Lizards in this family with the Gila Monster).
• This slow moving lizard has a powerful bite. Once it achieves a hold, it is extremely difficult detach the power jaws.
• The venom is neurotoxic and is excreted as saliva from glands in the lower jaw.
• The gila monster does not have fangs like a snake. The teeth in the lower jaw are grooved, allowing the venomous saliva to enter the bite wound.
• Fatal bites are rare, and when they have occurred, the person involved is usually intoxicated and playing with the lizard when the bite occurs.
• In captivity, these lizards generally become docile; but when exposed to direct sunlight, they become much more aggressive.
• The bright pink coloration is presumed to be a warning to potential predators.

Location at The Toledo Zoo:
The Reptile House

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