Gila Monster

The Gila Monster is a species of venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States parts of Mexico. A heavy, typically slow-moving lizard that can measure up to 60cm long, the Gila Monster is the only venomous lizard native to the United States and one of only two known species of venomous lizards in North America. Though the Gila Monster is venomous, its sluggish nature means it represents little threat to humans.

The Gila Monster inhabits scrubland, succulent desert, and oak woodland areas and seek shelter in burrows, thickets, and under rocks in locations with ready access to moisture. Gila Monsters seem to enjoy water.

The Gila Monster eats small birds, mammals, frogs, lizards, insects, and carrion. Feeding primarily on bird and reptile eggs, the Gila Monster eats infrequently. They are known to eat only 5- 10 times a year in the wild. When they do feed, they may eat up to one-third of its body mass.

Gila Monster @ Safari Niagara

  • The Gila Monster can be found at the Safari Niagara reptile house.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Helodermatidae
Genus: Heloderma
Species: H. suspectum

Did you know?

  • The Gila Monster may live up to 20 years in the wild, or 30 in captivity.
  • Gila Monsters are lists as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
  • In 1963, the San Diego Zoo became the first zoo to successfully bread Gila Monsters in captivity.