Gila Monster - a venomous lizard of Gila River

Baku, May 11, AZERTAC

The Gila monster, (Heloderma suspectum), one of two species of North American venomous lizards in the genus Heloderma of the family Helodermatidae.

The Gila monster was named for the Gila River basin and occurs in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

It grows to about 50 cm (about 20 inches), is stout-bodied with black and pink blotches or bands, and has beadlike scales.

According to the National Geographic, the Gila monster is one of only a handful of venomous lizards in the world. Its venom is a fairly mild neurotoxin.

Though a Gila bite is extremely painful, none has resulted in a reported human death. Unlike snakes, which inject venom, Gilas latch onto victims and chew to allow neurotoxins to move through grooves in their teeth and into the open wound.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Gila monster feeds at night on small mammals, birds, and eggs. Its fat, stored in the tail and abdomen, is utilized during the winter months.

Gila populations are shrinking due primarily to human encroachment, and they are considered a threatened species.

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