Gila monster Facts

Gila monster Facts
Gila monster is one of the two known venomous lizard species (the other one is Mexican beaded lizard). Gila monster lives in southwestern parts of the United States and northwestern Mexico, in deserts such as Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan. Gila monster prefers life in arid, semi-arid habitats and rocky regions. It can be found on the altitude of 5000 feet. Gila monster is listed as threatened species (nearly endangered) because of the habitat loss as a result of increased agriculture. Gila monster is protected by law in Arizona.
Interesting Gila monster Facts:
Gila monster is the largest lizard in the North America. It can reach 2 feet in length and up to 5 pounds in weight.
Body of Gila monster is covered with beads instead of scales (like in other reptiles). Its back is black in color and intersected with pink, orange or light markings that can be arranged in several different patterns.
Gila monsters are named after Gila River basin in Arizona, because they were identified on that location for the first time.
Unlike venomous snakes that have hollow teeth, Gila monster has large teeth with grooves. It can inject toxin only by chewing the tissue of the victim.
Gila monster produces very dangerous neurotoxin which negatively affects function of nerves. This toxin is as strong as the toxin produced by western diamondback rattlesnake. Luckily, it cannot be delivered in amount that can seriously hurt people.
A substance isolated from this toxin, called exendin-4, is currently under investigation as a new drug that may help in treatment of diabetes.
Gila monster spends 98% of its life hidden in the underground burrows. It leaves the safety of the burrow rarely to find some food and to mate. Gila monster is diurnal animal.
Gila monster eats eggs, small birds and mammals, lizards, frogs and carrions.
Gila monster can eat one third of its own weight during a single meal. It has very slow metabolism and it requires only 3 to 4 large meals per year.
Gila monster has very thick and long tail that stores fat. They can be used as a source of energy when other food is not available.
Gila monster is territorial and solitary creature. One animal requires territory of about one square mile.
Gila monsters gather in larger groups during mating season that takes place from April to June. Males fight with each other before they get opportunity to mate.
Females prepare underground nests where they will deposit 2 to 12 leathery eggs. Incubation period lasts 10 months. Young Gila monsters will emerge following year.
Young Gila monsters look like miniature versions of their parents. They are usually 6 inches long. From the moment of birth, hatchlings are left on their own.
Gila monster can survive 20 years in captivity and even longer in the wild.

Related Links:
Animal Facts
Animals Facts