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gila monster(hē`lə), venomous lizard, Heloderma suspectum, found in the deserts of the SW United States and NW Mexico. It averages 18 in. (45 cm) in length, with a large head, stout body, thick tail that acts as a food reservoir, and short legs with strong claws. Its skin is covered with beadlike scales. Its coloring is marbled, a combination of brown or black with orange, pink, yellow, or dull white. The lizard's movements are slow and clumsy. It feeds on young birds and mammals and on eggs. Because the neurotoxic venom is produced by glands in the lower jaw and the grooved teeth through which it passes are set far back in the mouth, venom does not always enter the wound when a victim is bitten. The gila monster must fix its teeth deeply in a certain position to give a fatal bite. The only other member of the genus Heloderma, the beaded lizard, H. horridum, is a somewhat larger black and yellow lizard, found in W Mexico. These two species are the only known lizards whose venom is fatal. They are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Helodermatidae.
(Heloderma suspectum), a poisonous lizard of the family Helodermatidae. Length, up to 60 cm. The body is covered with protuberant, granular scales. The skin is dark brown, heavily splotched with yellow orange or reddish brown. The conical teeth are curved backward into the mouth; four teeth of the upper and lower jaws have grooves that are fed by the ducts of highly developed submaxillary poison glands. The bite of a gila monster is very painful and may even lead to death. Gila monsters are found in the western mountainous parts of the USA and Mexico.
They are nocturnal animals, feeding mainly on the eggs of birds and reptiles. When they have adequate food they quickly accumulate fat, which is stored in the tail and used during periods of food shortage.