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Gila Monster

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The Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) is a large and very venomous lizard whose natural range covers the southwestern United States and northern parts of Mexico. They are considered Near Threatened by the IUCN. They are one of two venomous lizards found in North America (Mexican Beaded Lizard is the other), but the only one found in the United States.

Gila Monsters are very slow moving, and have a very thick build, making them heavy and pretty slow-moving. This actually makes the Gila Monster a low threat to humans, but despite this, and regardless of being protected by Nevada and Arizona state laws, they are commonly killed by humans out of fear.

Gila Monster Habitat

As mentioned, the range of the Gila Monster covers northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. They are absent from Baja California, but they do cover other areas of California, as well as New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and both Sonora and Sinaloa in Mexico.

The Gila Monster lives in a hot area of the world, and as such tend to avoid open areas. They stick to oak woodlands, scrubland, and even desert areas that are rich with thickets and rocks in which to hide. If these types of conditions are close to a moisture source, Gila Monsters may be nearby. They seem to like water a lot, as they have been observed to walking through and submersing themselves in puddles of water.

Gila Monster Range Map

Map of the range covered by the Gila Monster

Gila Monster Subspecies

The Gila Monster species actually gets separated a bit more into two subspecies.

  • Heloderma suspectum cinctum (Banded Gila Monster)
  • Heloderma suspectum suspectum (Reticulate Gila Monster)

The Banded Gila Monster is found in the northern range, and particularly within the Mojave Desert, while the southern parts of the range are home to the Reticulate Gila Monster. The Reticulate Gila Monster can be differentiated by the pattern of their markings, as they have lighter marking on their backs separated by dark scales. The Banded Gila Monster meanwhile has lighter scales arranged in unbroken bands.

Gila Monster Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Superfamily: Varanoidea
  • Family: Helodermatidae
  • Genus: Heloderma
  • Species: Heloderma suspectum

Other Gila Monster Information

Find out what this venomous lizard looks like with these Gila Monster Pictures.


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