Gila Monster (Heloderma Suspectum) | Characteristics, Habitats & Amazing Facts

Name - Gila Monster

Scientific Name : Heloderma suspectum

Type : Reptile

Age : 20 – 30 Years

Diet : Carnivore


Physical Characteristics:

Weight : 1.3kg – 2.2kg

Top Speed : 15mph

Colour : Grey , White , Black , Brown 

Skin Type : Scales

Lifespan : 20 – 30 Years

Current Population : Unknown 

Current Population Trend : Unknown

Native : united States , North Mexico



Main Pray : Eggs , Small Mammals , Reptile

Habitat : Shrubland , Desert , woodland

Predators : 3 

Average Clutch Size : 8 

Lifestyle : Solitary

Favorite Food : Eggs

Gila Monster

Amazing Facts

As the name might suggest, the Gila (pronounced HEE-la) monster has one of the worst reputations in the reptile world. This lizard is often feared and has been described as frightful and repulsive, especially in local folklore. It has been accused of many things, such as spitting venom, leaping several feet in the air to attack, stinging with its tongue, and killing people with gusts of poisonous breath. We’re glad you’re reading this, to learn the truth about these interesting lizards!

Gila monsters are heavy-bodied lizards covered with beadlike scales, called osteoderms, that are black and yellow or pink covering all but their belly. The Gila monster is venomous; its venom is made by a row of glands in the lizard’s lower jaw. When the lizard bites, small grooves in the teeth help the venom flow into its prey. The bite of a Gila monster is very strong, and the lizard may not loosen its grip for several seconds. It may even chew so that the venom goes deeper into the wound. 

A Gila monster bite is painful to humans, but it rarely causes death. The biggest problem you might have if a Gila monster bit you is trying to get the lizard to release its grip! But you really shouldn’t worry, as Gila monsters tend to avoid humans and other large animals. To warn off potential predators, they open their mouth very wide and hiss.

The other venomous lizard is the Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum), which is closely related (in the same genus). This lizard does use its venom to kill its prey.


Gila monsters can only run about 1 mph (1.6 km/h).

Though not the most active animal, Gilas are more than willing to climb a cactus to get to a nest full of eggs.


The bead-like scales that cover Gilas are called osteoderms. The bright colors of these scales are thought to warn predators to stay away, much like the bright colors of poisonous frogs.

Gilas use their big tails for balance while they walk.

There is a drug for the management of Type 2 diabetes based on a protein from Gila monster saliva. The drug has the nickname “lizard spit,” according to the San Diego Zoo.

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