In April of 2007, a plethora of gila monsters appeared on my property way out in a remote desert location about 50 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona. I am told this is a rare event, because these lizards stay underground most of the year. The only explanation is that I live on or near a massive burrow. For about a decade, we continued to see many of them each year, usually in the spring or late summer months. They emerge in spring to mate, and then sightings during late summer usually indicate a return to their underground habitats. One used to raid my hen nests on a regular basis. They love the eggs! As a result of all this activity, I probably have more gila monster videos on YouTube than anyone - at least those which show them wild and free in their natural setting. I usually just follow them around keeping a safe distance of course so as not to bother them. This is one of the first lizards I had the privilege of meeting, filmed on April 9, 2007.
These are very gentle lizards and will not attack or bite unless provoked. But when they do, their bite is venomous, painful, and prolonged. They inject the venom by chewing, not quickly like a snake. Anyway, most people survive unless they have an allergic reaction. The Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) is also protected by law - in Arizona it is illegal to harass, capture, or harm them. Their venom has been very instrumental in improving treatment of diabetes, however. I invite you to do your own research to find out more about these fascinating reptiles, or just watch my videos at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD44DCE95D1B219A0
June 22nd, 2019
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