Reticulated Gila Monster - Heloderma suspectum suspectum
Desert-in rocky foothills or in semiarid rocky regions of desert scrub or grasslands
Primarily in Arizona and Mexico
Diurnal, but most activity occurs in the morning
They have enlarged grooved teeth in their lower jaw that allows them to inject venom into their prey. The dorsal coloration is black with pink or orange-reticulated species have a pattern that is broken up.
The largest lizard in the United States, they can measure up to 22 inches. Between 1.5-3 pounds
Prey on small birds and mammals, eggs, lizards, frogs, insects and carrion.
In late April to early June, courtship and male-to-male combat take place. Females lay two to 12 leathery eggs that overwinter below ground and hatch ten months later in the next spring. Hatchlings are about six inches (15 cm) long and are miniature replicas of their parents.
Listed as near threatened in IUCN Red List and listed on CITES Appendix II. They are threatened by habitat destruction: overgrazing, truck farming, and the planting of cotton. They are also protected under Arizona law.
- With very few natural predators, they may spend up to 98 percent of their lives in or at the mouth of a burrow.
- Gila monsters enjoy a mixed reputation with Native Americans. While the Tohono O’Odham and the Pima believed that the lizard possessed a spiritual power capable of causing sickness and the Apache believed that its very breath could bring death, the Seri and Yaquai believed in the healing powers of the lizard’s hide.
- A component of Gila monster venom called exendin-4 was recently investigated for its in treating type-2 diabetes. This peptide stimulates the secretion of insulin in the presence of elevated blood glucose levels. It also has the effect of slowing gastric emptying. Phase I clinical studies have recently begun with this exciting experimental drug.
- Adult (13 and over)$9.00
- Child (3 - 12)$5.25
- Child (2 and under)Free
- Senior (65+)$8.00
We begin transferring animals to evening (off exhibit) holding at 4:30 each night.
Open Daily 10:00-5:00
Last admission at 4:30