- Gila monster
a large, venomous lizard, Heloderma suspectum, of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico, covered with beadlike scales of yellow, orange, and black.[1875-80, Amer.; after GILA]
* * *One of the only two species (both in the family Helodermatidae) of venomous lizards, named for the Gila River basin and found in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) grows to about 20 in. (50 cm) long, is stout-bodied with black and pink blotches or bands, and has beadlike scales. During warm weather, it feeds at night on small mammals, birds, and eggs and stores fat in the tail and abdomen for the winter. It is sluggish but has a strong bite. The venom (a neurotoxin) is conducted along grooves in the teeth from glands in the lower jaw. Bites are rarely fatal to humans. The other venomous species is the Mexican beaded lizard (H. horridum).
* * *▪ reptileone of two species of North American venomous lizards (lizard) in the genus Heloderma of the family Helodermatidae. The Gila monster (H. suspectum) was named for the Gila River Basin and occurs in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It grows to about 50 cm (about 20 inches), is stout-bodied with black and pink blotches or bands, and has beadlike scales. A closely related species, the Mexican beaded lizard (H. horridum), is slightly larger (to 80 cm [about 32 inches]) and darker but otherwise similar in appearance.During warm weather the Gila monster feeds at night on small mammals (mammal), birds (bird), and eggs (egg) (see video—>). fat stored in the tail and abdomen at this time is utilized during the winter months. Both species of Heloderma are slow, methodical predators. Their large heads and muscular jaws yield a strong bite that is held while venom seeps into the wound. Many teeth have two grooves that conduct the venom, a nerve poison, from glands in the lower jaw. Fatalities to humans are rare.George R. Zug
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