The Gila Monster is one of only two lizards in the world that are poisonous. The other one is the Heloderma horidum, which is a very well-known Mexican beaded lizard. Gilas have big bodies that are strong, and their tails are fat and short. The longest they can get is 56 cm. The scales on their bodies can be a mix of yellow, pink, and black.Their legs and feet are the same color as their chins and necks. Their ears are small and their legs are strong. Their claws are heavy and can get very long.
They are in the family Helodermatidae, which is made up of poisonous lizards. Even though their animal order is Squamata, that is the group for modern snakes with scales. Fossils show that most modern snakes and geckos evolved in the mid-Jurassic era.
In the wild, the Gila Monster eats many different things. It can eat small animals like mice, squirrels, and even young rabbits. They eat birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, and tortoises. Most of the time, they are out looking for eggs. They will happily eat a lot of food in just one sitting. The young ones can eat up to 50% of their body weight in a single meal, while the adults can only eat 35% of their weight.
This way of eating has been shown to be helpful, especially for animals that live in the wild, where it can be hard to find food. It has been found that the Gila Monster rarely uses its poison to kill its prey. This means that it mostly uses its poison to protect itself.
They use their tongues to find their food, and they also have a great sense of smell. They eat without chewing. They eat it whole, but before they eat an egg, they crack it open.
They can store more energy than small lizards because their bodies are bigger. Both their bellies and their tails can store fat. They won’t have to look for food all the time because their metabolism is slow and they can eat a lot of food at once and store fat.
They often stay underground to hide in the wild, and scientists have found that Gilas can get all the food they need for an entire year by eating just 3–4 big meals.
Gila Monsters don’t usually kill people with their poison, but that doesn’t mean that their poison shouldn’t be taken seriously. In the wild, they can be seen injecting the poison with their teeth. Their poison will also come from salivary glands in their lower jaws that have been changed. The poison will get into the victim’s body when they chew.
If you ever get bitten by a Gila Monster, which is very unlikely, here’s what to do. Keep in mind that you should never pull the Gila out of the ground. Doing so will only cause more damage and could even cause your skin to break.
Their bites can be very painful, and it may seem like the only way to stop them from biting is to kill them. As soon as you can after being bitten by a Gila Monster, you should go to the hospital for help. Time is important because you need to act quickly to stop the effects of the venom.
1) What to do when it’s warm outside
They can be seen eating birds, eggs, and small animals. During the warm months, they store fat in their tails and stomachs so that they will have enough fat to use in the winter.
2) Climbing Trees
They can climb well, and you can often see them doing it in the wild. When they have to climb trees, they use their long claws to help them. These claws are also used for digging food like buried eggs and for modifying burrows.
Gila Monsters are seen climbing trees since this is their way of escaping potential predators. Also, they are trying to cool off a bit when the ground gets too warm for their skin.
3) Slow Pace
They are slow-moving yet very aggressive in nature, and this is primarily the reason why they prefer to live isolated from other creatures. They don’t have good eyesight compared to other lizards who have clear eyesight. Researchers think that because they have poor eyesight, they can become very aggressive to anything that comes close to it. They will not be seen risking themselves in a place they know that is not safe.
4) Biting Humans
There have been reported cases that a Gila Monster has bitten humans, but there is no concrete evidence that can lead to saying that a Gila Monster will go intentionally hunting for them or they like taking small children as their dinner. These stories are often associated with the myths that have been circulating in different cultures for quite a long time.
Their bite can make humans very sickly because of the bacteria that is found on their mouth. The effects of the venom can be very ill, so it’s highly recommended that a person who has been bitten by a Gila Monster should seek immediate medical attention.
5) Ability to Memorize
Gila Monsters have been observed to follow small mammals to their burrows. They will check if the small mammal is feeding their young ones. However, if they notice that the burrow doesn’t contain any newborns, they will not give up just yet; instead, they will go to that burrow again and again until he sees that there are young ones that will serve as his dinner.
It’s has been found out that their memory can contain data that up to 20 years, and this shows that they can be a mastermind of its own.
Gila Monsters can become very large animals, and it’s necessary for them to have large enclosures. The minimum size requirement for a Gila Monster enclosure should be at least 4x2x2 ft (1.3x.66x.66m), but you can always go for a bigger one. If you plan to house multiple Gila Monsters in one enclosure, you can use large cattle stock tanks, Large tanks with adequate heat and hiding spots are always recommended.
You need to ensure that their enclosure comes with a cover as this provides safety not only for the Gilas but also for humans living in your house. They are considered wild, venomous, dangerous, and they will not like it if they are constantly being poked or provoked by others. Spot-cleaning their tanks daily is recommended, while weekly disinfecting the cage would ensure the health of your Gila Monster.
The items or accessories placed inside the tanks should be disinfected as well. Having the appropriate cleaning materials will become very handy. Chlorine or alcohol-based cleaners are always a good choice and stir away from using phenol-based cleaners.
You can use playground sand, bark chips, peat moss, newspaper, and natural substrates as flooring in their enclosures. This can be easily purchased from retailers online and retail stores. They should be deep enough to successfully absorb moisture yet not too deep that it might hide feces or uneaten food that may cause health issues in your Gila Monster.
Replacing soiled or dirty substrates immediately should be done so that it will not accumulate bacteria. Keeping them as dry as possible is also a good idea.