Utah Field Guide – Gila Monster

The Gila Monster is Utah’s largest and heaviest lizard. It is estimated that they only spend about five percent of their lives above ground. The rest of the time they seek shelter in underground burrows only emerging when the temperature is right to feed and to mate. As a result, they don’t eat often. They may only eat five to ten times a year. But when they do feed, they may consume up to one third of their body weight.

Gila Monsters are only one of two venomous lizards found in the entire world. They don’t have fangs like venomous snakes do, but must bite and hold on to deliver the venom into the open wound caused by the teeth. Very few humans have ever been bitten. The venom causes tissue damage and is very painful, but seldom, if ever, fatal to humans.
In recent years, research has shown that components found in Gila Monster venom can be very effective in the treatment of diabetes, and may also prove helpful to those suffering from alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss.

There are many other interesting facts to discover about Gila Monsters and the more you know, the more you’ll enjoy Utah’s wildlife

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