Gila Monster
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Gila Monster

At a length of up to two feet and a maximum weight exceeding five pounds, the venomous Gila monster (pronounced HEE-luh) is the largest lizard native to the United States.

Easily identified by their black bodies marked with dramatic patterns of pink, orange, or yellow, Gilas are found in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. They take their name from Arizona’s Gila River basin, where they were first discovered.

The Gila monster is one of only a handful of venomous lizards in the world.

Fun Facts

  • The Gila monster is venomous, and the venom is made by a row of glands in the lizard’s lower jaw.
  • As carnivores, Gila monsters do not have very good eyesight; when they hunt, they use their senses of taste and smell.
  • Gila monsters don’t chew their food, they just swallow it whole.

About Our Gila

Conservation Status:
Near Threatened
Extinct Threatened Least

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