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Venomous Lizards

Gila Monster, Mexican Beaded Lizard

Gila Monster, Guides to Helodermatidae Lizards, Beaded LizardGila MonsterPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

The Gila Monster and Mexican Beaded Lizard are two venomous lizards, but there are more!

The most well known venomous lizards are the Gila Monster and the Mexican Beaded Lizard. They are found in North America, specifically in south-western United States and Mexico. These lizards are classified in the Family Helodermatidae which has one genus containing only these two species.

These two poisonous lizards have been steeped in mythology, probably because of their secretive lifestyles. The myths swirling about these mysterious creatures said the Gila Monsters and Beaded lizards were immortal. They were described with forked tongues, and all that they ate was spewed back out through their mouths as venomous waste. They could leap high in the air, and if they bit someone, they would not let go until they heard the sound of thunder, or the sun finally set.

Yet the facts about these two venomous reptiles are just as curious and intriguing as those inspired myths. Both species of Heloderma have a stout body with a broad head, well developed limbs, and a short fat tail. They are sluggish in habit, but are quick to strike their prey. These carnivorous (meat eaters) have a strong, tenacious bite. Once they've grabbed their prey, they have a 'bulldog' attitude and will not readily let go. They use poison, from toxin secreting glands, to help subdue their capture.

CAUTION:
These are
VENOMOUS LIZARDS

Picture of a Gila Monster
They may only be kept with a license.

Gila Monsters and the Beaded lizards have long been thought of as being the only venomous lizards. But more recently it has been discovered that a couple other groups of lizards, including some that are commonly kept as pets, contain members that are also venomous. Authorities also do not rule out the possiblity that other poisonous lizards may be found.

Two additional groups are now known to have venomous lizards. One group contains the monitor lizards of the Family Varanidae, like the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis. The other contains lizards in the Suborder Iguania from the Family Agamidae, like the Bearded Dragon, and from the Family Iguanidae, like the Green Iguana. However the toxin secreting glands of these lizards are smaller than those of snakes. The venom they produce may aid to subduing small prey, but on a human it would have no effect, or very little. It is said that a bitten hand might throb at most.

To information about different types of pet lizards, see:
Types of Lizards: Choosing a Pet Lizard


Click for more info on Gila Monster
Heloderma suspectum
Click for more info on Mexican Beaded Lizard
Heloderma horridum


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