Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum)
There are two Gila monsters here at the Zoo. They were both born in 1997 and came here in 2007.
Status in the wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Near threatened. Agricultural expansion and urban sprawl have encroached upon their habitat. In addition, animals taken out of the wild for pet trade have threatened the existence of this reptile.
These reptiles are named for the Gila River in Arizona, where they were first found. They are found in arid areas with enough moisture to support scattered cacti, shrubs, mesquite and grasses. The Banded Gila monster resides primarily in the Mojave Desert.
Gila monsters are carnivores (meat eaters). They feed on eggs, rodents, frogs, lizards, insects, centipedes, worms and carrion.
- The Gila monster is one of only two venomous lizard species in the world!
- This reptile spends about 95% of its time in underground burrows, usually that were once inhabited by mammals.
- This reptile can go a long time without eating, only eating five to ten times a year in the wild. When it does eat, they can eat up to one third of their body mass!