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Gila monster

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Gila monster
Jackobsons organ.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial

Heloderma suspectum

Gila Monsters are desert dwelling venomous lizards that were created on the fifth day of creation. They are named after the Gila River basin in Arizona.[1]

Anatomy

by alumroot

The tail of the Gila monster has four to five dark bands on it.[2] The Gila monster stores fat in its tail to be used during hibernation.[3] Gila monsters come in various lengths, usually peaking out at between eighteen to twenty-four inches.[4] Gila monsters weigh between 3-5 pounds.[3] The beaded appearance of Gila monster skin comes from small rounded, raised scales that occur at different intervals.[5] They have strong claws.[2]

Also Gila monsters will "taste" the air, they have a variant of the jacobson's organ.


How do they deliver poison?

Some of the Gila monster's teeth have a tubular cavity that houses a neurotoxin.[4] The poison is stored in modified saliva glands.[3] Unlike snakes, the poison is only secreted when the Gila monster bites its victim.[4] Then it can open the wound more by biting and grinding its teeth into the flesh which mixes in more poison to the prey’s bloodstream.[3]

The poison is rarely fatal to humans.[6]

Camouflage

The Gila monster blends in with its surroundings by means of different colored scales. This could be used to support evolution, by presuming a former lizard adapted to its environment.[3] On the other hand, one could say that God created them almost like they are now, and allowed natural selection to fit the species to its changing, desert environment.

Reproduction

martytdx took this picture

Gila monsters reproduce sexually, through out the summer and early spring months. Sex takes about 60 minutes. Afterward the female lays between 3-13 eggs. The female buries the eggs in the sand, which acts as an incubator. About four months later the eggs hatch.[3]

Ecology

djwudi took this picture of a gila monster in its natural habitat

Gila monsters like areas that are wet enough to support shrubbery but are also dry and sandy.[3] That means they can be found New Mexico and Mexico as well as in the desert regions of western Arizona.[4]

Behavior

In the hot summer months Gila monsters exhibit a nocturnal routine.[4][2]

Niche

Gila monsters are carnivores, they keep other organisms in check. Gila monsters feast upon small creatures such as rodents, birds, eggs, lizards, frogs, and rotting dead things commonly referred to as carrion.[2][6][3]

Medicine

Gila monsters produce the toxin exendin-4. A synthetic version of this compound is sold as a drug to treat diabetes, under the brand name Byetta.[7] Byetta improves blood sugar levels by stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas.[8]

Gallery

References

  1. Anonymous. Gila Monster: Heloderma suspectum. National Geographic
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 John Streeter.Gila Monster: Heloderma suspectum suspectum. Sedgwick County Zoo.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Lori Hamlett. Gila Monster. Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Gila Monster - DesertUSA.
  5. Anonymous. Gila Monsters Gila Monsters.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Multiple Contributors. Gila monster. Wikipedia.
  7. Dr. Paul Nemiroff. Gila Monster - An Unusual Help For Diabetics. KDKA.
  8. Anonymous. How BYETTA Works. Byetta® (exenatide) injection.