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One of only a few venomous lizards in the world, the Gila monster uses its venom more as a defense than for subduing the small prey it eats.  Spending most of its time burrowed underground, the lizard can survive long periods without food by living off the fat stored in its thick tail.

gila monster laying on a rock

Did You Know?

The Gila monster can eat up to 1/3 of its body weight in a single meal.

Quick Facts

Latin Name:
Heloderma suspectrum

Northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States

Desert and scrubland

1.5 to 2 feet

Zoo Location:
Reptile House

small animals, such as rodents, birds and lizards, eggs and carion