Friday, May 11, 2012

Gila Monster

While visiting some friends after work today, their indoor cats became fixated on the patio.   Looking out I spotted the object of their attention, a 14-16 inch long Gila Monster!  Way cool.  I grabbed the camera and went outside to snap a few pictures from a respectful distance.  

Gila Monsters are one of two native venomous lizard species found in North America and the only one found in the United States.  They live about 95% of their lives underground, so its a real privilege to see one.   I think this is only the third or fourth one I've seen in the wild.

Their diet consists of birds, mammals, frogs, lizards, and insects.  They also climb cacti and trees in search of nests containing eggs.

Its hard to get in trouble with one of these lizards unless you mess with one or try to pick one up.   They move pretty slowly, so occasionally someone will try to grab one by the tail only to find out how fast they can snap around and munch down on one's fingers, with jaws and teeth that really don't let go and a very painful venom.  Best left well alone.  A protected species in Arizona.

This fellow patrolled the patio perimeter and then wandered back out to the surrounding desert area.

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