Gila Monster

STATUSNear Threatened


DIETSmall mammals, insects, carrion, frogs, and lizards

RANGESouthwestern United Stated and northwestern Mexico

HABITATShrubland, grasslands, deserts, and forests

Gila Monster

Physical Description

Gila monsters are the largest lizard native to the US and can grow to be up to 22 inches long with stocky bodies. They have distinct color patterns of black with pink or orange and bead-like scales.


Some predators they may encounter include hawks, owls, coyotes, and snakes.


In the wild, they live an average of 20 years, but in human care, they have been known to live 30 years or more.


During the breeding season in early summer, males will sometimes compete for mates by wrestling. The female then digs a hole to lay 3-13 eggs, which will incubate for about 4 months.

Fun Facts

  • Gila monster venom is injected into their victim when they bite through grooves in their teeth. By chewing, they are able to inject additional venom.
  • They are one of the only 2 types of venomous lizard in the world (the other being the Mexican beaded lizard).

Conservation Messaging

In our Reptile and Amphibian (RAD) center you will find many different reptiles and amphibians including venomous and poisonous species of snakes and frogs. Many of these animals fall victim to habitat loss in the wild. Many of the species here are found in South American habitats which are subjected to deforestation, damming of rivers, water pollution, and poor agricultural and management practices.

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