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
Gila Monster Range Map
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
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