A Gila monster (pronounced HEE la)  is a large, poisonous lizard that makes its home in the deserts of southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Gila Monster

It is easy to recognize a Gila monster.  It has fat, clumsy body about two feet long and is covered with beadlike orange-and-black scales.

The Gila’s short, stumpy tail is a storage place for fat.  The creatures can live on this stored-up fat for months.

The bite of a Gila monster is similar to that of a poisonous snake.

When the Gila bites, it will often chew its victim, working the poison into the wound with its grooved teeth.

Small animals die quickly when bitten.  Usually, human beings suffer only painful swellings.

Fortunately, these lizards are very slow-moving and it is easy to keep out of their way.

Gila monsters are named for the Gila River region of Arizona, where they were first discovered.  – Dick Rogers

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