Skip to main content
Select Source:

gila monster

gila monster (hē´lə), venomous lizard, Heloderma suspectum, found in the deserts of the SW United States and NW Mexico. It averages 18 in. (45 cm) in length, with a large head, stout body, thick tail that acts as a food reservoir, and short legs with strong claws. Its skin is covered with beadlike scales. Its coloring is marbled, a combination of brown or black with orange, pink, yellow, or dull white. The lizard's movements are slow and clumsy. It feeds on young birds and mammals and on eggs. Because the neurotoxic venom is produced by glands in the lower jaw and the grooved teeth through which it passes are set far back in the mouth, venom does not always enter the wound when a victim is bitten. The gila monster must fix its teeth deeply in a certain position to give a fatal bite. The only other member of the genus Heloderma, the beaded lizard, H. horridum, is a somewhat larger black and yellow lizard, found in W Mexico. These two species are the only known lizards whose venom is fatal. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Helodermatidae.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gila monster." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gila monster." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster

"gila monster." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Gila monster

Gila monster Poisonous nocturnal lizard that lives in deserts of sw USA and n Mexico. It has a stout body, massive head, flat tail and scales of orange, yellow and black. It eats small mammals and eggs. Length: 50cm (20in). Family Helodermatidae; species Heloderma suspectum.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gila monster." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gila monster." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster

"Gila monster." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Gila monster

Gi·la mon·ster / ˈhēlə/ • n. a venomous lizard (Heloderma suspectum, family Helodermatidae) native to the southwestern US and Mexico.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gila monster." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gila monster." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gila-monster

"Gila monster." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gila-monster

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

gila monster

gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) See HELODERMATIDAE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"gila monster." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"gila monster." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gila-monster

"gila monster." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gila-monster

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Gila Monster

Gila Monster

The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) is a large, strikingly-colored venomous lizard. The gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum) are the only members of the beaded lizard family, Helodermatidae. The Gila monster occurs in rocky, semi-arid habitats from the Colorado River basin in the southwestern United States to the western regions of Mexico and Guatemala.

The Gila monster reaches a length of 18 in (46 cm), and is typically black or dark brown, with bright yellow markings. The body is heavy and cylindrical, ending with a thick, rounded tail, where energy reserves are stored against lean times. The head is relatively large, massive, and flattened, with numerous, slightly recurved teeth.

The Gila monster is a terrestrial lizard, and is most active at dawn and dusk. Since the body temperature of Gila monsters depends on environmental temperature, these lizards are less active during the winter in northern parts of their range. Gila monsters can live for 20 years in captivity.

The Gila monster has venom glands on the front part of the lower jaws, and (together with the Mexican beaded lizard) are the worlds only venomous lizards. The venom glands synthesize and store a potent toxin that can cause paralysis of the cardiac and respiratory systems of vertebrate animals. The Gila monster bites and chews a wound in its victim, into which the venom flows by capillary action along deep grooves on the lizards teeth. The Gila monster is a tenacious biter, using its venomous bite to immobilize prey, and to defend itself against predators. The bite of a Gila monster is painful, but rarely fatal to a human.

The Gila monster eats a wide range of small animals, bird eggs and nestlings, earthworms, and carrion. Food is swallowed whole, except for eggs, which are broken before eating. Like most lizards, the Gila monster uses its forked tongue and an associated sensory organ (Jacobsons organ) on the roof of the mouth for chemosensation, an important aid to finding its food.

Gila monsters lay as many as 13 eggs in a clutch. The eggs are buried, and incubate for as long as 130 days until hatching.

Because it is a potentially dangerous and unusual looking animal, the Gila monster is often kept as a pet.

Populations of gila monsters in some areas have been depleted because some people fear and kill these animals, and because they are hunted for their skins and the commercial pet trade. Both the Gila monster and the beaded lizard are classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), meaning they face a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.

See also Reptiles.

Bill Freedman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gila Monster." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gila Monster." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster

"Gila Monster." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Gila Monster

Gila monster

The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) is a large, strikingly-colored venomous lizard. The gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum) are the only members of the beaded lizard family, Helodermatidae. The Gila monster occurs in rocky, semi-arid habitats from the Colorado River basin in the southwestern United States to the western regions of Mexico and Guatemala.

The Gila monster reaches a length of 18 in (46 cm), and is typically black or dark brown, with bright yellow markings. The body is heavy and cylindrical, ending with a thick, rounded tail, where energy reserves are stored against lean times. The head is relatively large, massive, and flattened, with numerous, slightly recurved teeth.

The Gila monster is a terrestrial lizard, and is most active at dawn and dusk. Since the body temperature of Gila monsters depends on environmental temperature, these lizards are less active during the winter in northern parts of their range. Gila monsters can live for 20 years in captivity.

The Gila monster has venom glands on the front part of the lower jaws, and (together with the Mexican beaded lizard) are the world's only venomous lizards.
The venom glands synthesize and store a potent toxin that can cause paralysis of the cardiac and respiratory systems of vertebrate animals. The Gila monster bites and chews a wound in its victim, into which the venom flows by capillary action along deep grooves on the lizard's teeth. The Gila monster is a tenacious biter, using its venomous bite to immobilize prey , and to defend itself against predators. The bite of a Gila monster is painful, but rarely fatal to a human.

The Gila monster eats a wide range of small animals, bird eggs and nestlings, earthworms, and carrion. Food is swallowed whole, except for eggs, which are broken before eating. Like most lizards, the Gila monster uses its forked tongue and an associated sensory organ (Jacobson's organ) on the roof of the mouth for chemosensation, an important aid to finding its food.

Gila monsters lay as many as 13 eggs in a clutch. The eggs are buried, and incubate for as long as 130 days until hatching.

Because it is a potentially dangerous and unusual looking animal , the Gila monster is often kept as a pet. Populations of gila monsters in some areas have been depleted because some people fear and kill these animals, and because they are hunted for their skins and the commercial pet trade.

See also Reptiles.

Bill Freedman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gila Monster." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gila Monster." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 21, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster-0

"Gila Monster." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved November 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gila-monster-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.