Gila Monster

Heloderma suspectum

The Gila monster (pronounced hee'-la) lives in arid areas of the southwestern United States. It is named for the Gila River Basin. This, and the other species of genus Heloderma (the Mexican beaded lizard, Heloderma horridum) are the only two venomous lizards in the world. The Gila monster is a predator, eating slow-moving smaller animals. It has the capability to consume large amounts of food at one time. When active, it eats all it can and stores the surplus food as fat in its tail. In this way, it can survive for months without food. Like most snakes, the Gila monster uses its tongue for olfaction.

The above picture was taken in the Attica Zoological Park, Athens, Greece, in June 2007.

Genus Heloderma
Family Helodermatidae
Infraorder Platynota
Suborder Sauria
Order Squamata
Class Reptilia
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth