Heloderma suspectum

At a length of up to two feet and a maximum weight of 2.3 kilograms, the venomous Gila monster (pronounced HEE-luh) is the largest lizard native to the United States. Easily identified by their black bodies marked with dramatic patterns of pink, orange, or yellow. 

A synthetic version of a protein found in Gila saliva is used as a treatment for diabetes in humans.


Gilas are found in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico.


They inhabit scrubland, succulent desert, and oak woodland, seeking shelter in burrows, thickets, and under rocks in locations with ready access to moisture.


They feed primarily on eggs raided from nests and newborn mammals.

Conservation Status