Banded Gila Monster
Facts about Banded Gila monster. "Scientific name for Banded Gila monster lizard is Heloderma suspectum". Banded Gila monster lizard is native to southwestern United States and the only lizard native to United States. Banded Gila monster lizard is a species of venomous lizard and among the two species that are known in North America.
Mostly Banded Gila monster lizard can be found in Arizona and Mexico. The Gila River is where it resides most of the times and that is why it is named Banded Gila monster. Banded Gila monster lizard is a desert dweller living near washes and arroyos. It does not like open flats and agricultural areas. In fact it can be found in elevations up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m).
The Banded Gila monster is venomous but it is not a threat to human beings. It can bite and hold on tightly. An amazing fact is that when the Banded Gila monster lizard bites it releases the venomous that is chewed by its larger teeth through capillary action thus releasing just a little of venomous which is not poisonous. But in most cases it gets killed by humans for fear.
The dorsal is black with pink or orange color. However, the southern subspecies differs a little with the northern subspecies. The southern has light markings which are broken to form a reticulated pattern. For the northern one, the light marking just form an unbroken band.
Banded Gila monster lizard is a large lizard and it is known to be the biggest in the US. It measures around 22 inches (56 cm) in length. The average life span of Banded Gila monster lizard in the wild is 20 to 30 years. Weight is about 4 lbs (1.8 kg) This is one of the adaptability advantages that it posses over other small lizards
It spends most of the time hiding below the ground. It is able to withstand the harsh environment because of the special features it possesses. Being a large lizard it can store energy where the fat is stored in the tail and the body.
Another feature is that the Banded Gila monster lizard can eat large meals at a go. In the wilderness a Banded Gila monster lizard can eat up to a 1/3 of its body weight. This food can take it for even months since it also has a low resting metabolic rate. According to some research, it is believed that the Banded Gila monster lizard can eat twice or thrice in a year and survive all the same.
Three months in the spring, its above ground activities are seen. This is the time when mating takes place and food too is plenty. Mainly the activities are done in the morning. Banded Gila monster lizard is a solitary animal but when the mating starts, you can spot it in the communal areas.
The mating starts in late April to early June. The female Banded Gila monster lizard lays two to twelve eggs that stays below the ground and hatches in the next spring ten months later. The hatch-lings measures around 6 inches (15 cm) long.
When held in captivity, the Banded Gila monster lizard can live up to 20 years but in the wilderness it can live longer. Food also depends on where it is. In the zoo a large mice twice per month is enough but in the wilderness it can feed on small birds, eggs, lizards, insects and frogs.
Banded Gila monster lizard does not have many predators and this makes enjoy its reputation. There are some people who believe that it cures some diseases and this protects it even more. Others think that Banded Gila monster lizards breath can cause death, so any time it is spotted people will leave it alone.