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Common Name: Gila Monster

Scientific Name: Heloderma suspectum

Type: Reptile

Family: Helodermatidae

Genus: Heloderma

Diet: birds small mammals frogs lizards insects and carrion

Life Span: 20 to 30 years

Size: 10 to 14 inches with the largest being 14 to 22 inches

Weight: 1lb with largest being 5 lbs

Location: Gila monsters can be found Natively in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and New Mexico.

Utah State Reptile

Gila Monster

Does it make a good pet?

No, they cannot be pets. They are for permitted keepers only. Permitted keepers help breed, educate, or any other form of helping the wellbeing of the species. They are the first venomous protected species by law. The venom from a Gila monster has helped discover and treat many diseases like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and aiding in memory loss. They also help biologists keep tabs on the environment by monitoring the size of their tail, which they use to store fats in case food gets scarce. This helps aid in knowing how plentiful both food and water are in the ecosystem. There are no verified reports of people being killed by a Gila monster because they have never given enough venom to kill a human. Unless you have an allergic reaction, being bitten will not kill you. The venom is used for defense and digestion, not for killing prey. They have also been recorded only eating species with high populations, when the population of a species gets low, they change to eating another species. This means Gila monsters help maintain other populations in the environment.


The Gila monster lives in deserts with low-elevation, rocky bluffs, and sandy canyons for them to hide in.

Conservation Status: Near Threatened (Population decreasing)

Family: Helodermatidae

Order: Scaled reptile/Squamata

Phylum: Chordata

Genus: Heloderma

Gila Monster