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Gila Monster

Gila monster

Photo courtesy of The Phoenix Zoo


About the Gila Monster

  • A large, heavy-bodied lizard - one of two poisonous lizards in the world.
  • Displays black markings on a background that can be creamy, pink, yellow or orange.
  • Measures up to 24 inches in length.
  • Always has a black area around the mouth and eyes.
  • Weighs up to two pounds.
  • It will protect itself from the sun and heat by burrowing underneath pack rat nests.
  • They are egg eaters.

While it is the only venomous lizard in the United States, it is a shy creature. Bites to humans usually happen when it is cornered or picked up.

The Gila monster prefers canyon bottoms, rocky areas and outlying desert residential areas. It spends less than two weeks per year above ground. From early March to mid May, Gila monsters are active during the day and change to nighttime activity beginning with the monsoons.

Signs & Symptoms of a Bite
A bite produces intense pain within 30 seconds, followed by swelling, weakness, dizziness, nausea and chills.

Once a Gila monster bites, it does not  lock on but generally will not let go. Therefore, you or someone with you may have to pull it off. The longer it remains on you, the more venomous the bite.

Do not wait for symptoms to occur. Call the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center immediately 1-800-222-1222 and go to the closest medical facility for medical treatment.

Banner Good Samaritan
Poison and Drug Information Center
24-hour phone: 1-800-222-1222
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