Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum)

The largest and only venomous lizard in the US, Gila monsters may reach up to 2 feet in length.  Each lizard has a unique  pattern of beaded skin consisting of black bands with pink, orange, or yellow colored scales.  Gila monsters spend up to 98% of their time in underground burrows or rock shelters.  They eat nestling mammals, and eggs of birds, lizards, snakes and tortoises.  Since they eat only a few meals per year, each meal is very large and can be up to a third of their body mass. They store some of the food as fat reserves in their tail for long periods of inactivity.  Although these lizards are seemingly slow and not very aggressive, they are not to be handled. They can make surprisingly quick movements if harassed or bothered and their bite is extremely painful. Although bites are seldom fatal, medical attention should be immediately sought.

If you find a Gila monster in your yard, garage, house, or anywhere else where you would like it removed, please call the UDWR, animal control, or the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve to have the animal picked up and re-located to a safer location. These lizards are only aggressive if handled or harassed, so in most situations it is easiest to just leave them alone and let them go on their way.

If you are lucky enough to see a Gila monster in the wild, please let us know. They are extremely rare, so your sightings are really important to us. Below is an observation form you can easily fill out in just a few minutes and submit back to us or the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Gila Monster Observation Form