Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gila Monster

The Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) is not only the largest lizard in the United States, but it the only venomous one. In fact, it is one of only two venomous lizards in the entire world! They can grow to nearly 2 feet in length and weigh 2-3lbs, and can be identified by their black bodies patched with yellow, orange, and pink. They are found in the United States and Mexico, and inhabit desert, scrubland, and woodland areas.

Image From Gold Camping
Gila Monster posses both venom and a powerful bite. Their venom glands are located in the lower jaw and the toxin is released upon biting. Once they've got something in their mouth it will take several seconds for them to loosen their grip, and they will even chew on their quarry to get the venom deeper into the bite. Their are no reported cases of human death by Gila Monster, and interestingly, these guys might actually help to save human lives. A hormone in their saliva have been synthesized and made into a medication for glucose stabilization in diabetics.

Other facts about Gila Monsters include their sluggish movement, their carnivorous diet of birds, , lizards, insects, small mammals, and eggs, and their ability to store fat in the tail and abdomen for use in the winters months. The pet trade and habitat destruction have damaged their numbers, giving them legal protection and a listing as Near Threatened.

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