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What Does a Gila Monster Eat?

Updated on October 1, 2011

A Gila Monster is also called Heloderma suspectrum scientifically. It is a big lizard known for its venomous capabilities and its striking color. A Gila monster is categorized under the beaded lizard family together with the Mexican beaded lizard. These two creatures are the only member of the Helodermatidae family. Gila monsters are prominent in stony, arid environments like the Colorado River basin located at the South Western side of the US. It can also be found in the western parts of Guatemala and Mexico.

Gila monsters are capable of growing up to 46 centimetres or 18 inches in size. They are usually black or brown, trimmed with dark yellow markings. Their body structure is heavy and cylindrical. The body ends with a rounded, thick tail, and this tails are the ones that store their reserved energy during lean periods. Their heads are relatively larger. It is massive and flat, and the Gila monsters have plenty of their slightly curved teeth.

Being terrestrial lizards, Gila monsters are most active and energetic during dawn and dusk. Their body temperature is dependent on the habitual temperature. During winter, they are less active especially in the northern ranges. These creatures can live up to 2 decades when held in captivity.

As said, they are known to be the venomous lizards, with their venom glands found on the upper and lower part of their jaws. They are the only venomous lizards and monitors in the world, together with he Mexican beaded lizards.

The Gila monsters’ venom glands are the ones responsible for synthesizing and storing potent toxins that are used for paralyzing the circulatory and cardiac of their preys. These Gila monsters bite and chew wounds in their victim, making way for the venom to pass through this opening. The venom flows along the circulation of the Gila monsters’ capillaries then through the deep grooves of their teeth. Since they are monstrous biters, they immobilize vertebrate animals – whether they are their prey of predators. Their bites are definitely painful, although can rarely cause death to humans.

What Do They Eat?

These Gila monsters feed on broad range of animals – small birds, eggs, nestlings, worms, and carrions. They swallow the food in wholes, except when they eat eggs, which they break before eating. Just like regular lizards, these creatures use their forked tongues in finding food. They use their tongues with their associated sensory organ which is called the Jacobson’s organ located at the roof of their oral cavity. The process is called chemosensation that helps them find their food.

They reproduce by laying up to thirteen eggs in a clasp. These eggs are then buried, and incubated for more that 130 days until they will hatch.

Due to its odd-looking attributes, and their tendency to become dangerous, they are not often kept as pet. Their population is coming to depletion because of the killings of these animals. People kill Gila monsters because they are feared and also, they use Gila monsters for commercial purposes. They sell the Gila monsters’ skin and they also include the animal in commercial pet trade.

Gila Monsters on the Move

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