Texas Tech University


Dear Friends and Colleagues of ICASALS,

As a further service to ICASALS constituents, in particular those associated with K-12 and undergraduate courses, we are happy to announce the start of our publication series “On the Spotlight”.  This series of vignettes will provide basic and relevant information on the vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, ecosystems, peoples and ecological processes associated with arid and semi-arid lands of the world. 

Vertebrate of Semi-Arid Lands in North America

Gila monster

Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) is found in semiarid rocky regions of desert scrubland or grassland in southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is the only venomous lizard in the U.S. living in the burrows and rocky shelters. They are heavy bodied lizards covered with beadlike black and yellow or pink scales. They have short legs but can climb fairly high up foraging for bird eggs in the nests. Gila monsters adjust their behavior based on the body temperature, and may be nocturnal, crepuscular, or diurnal. They do not have good eyesight; usually flick its forked tongue out to pick up scent particles in the air. The Gila monster eats birds, egg, rodents, lizards, frogs, and insects. 

  Gila Monster                                                                                         Source: Britannica.com