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Gila monster
Heloderma suspectum

Description: Robust, with a large head and a heavy tail. Its body is covered with beadlike scales. It is capable of storing fat against lean times when food is scarce. Its color is striking in rich blacks laced with yellow or pinkish scales.

Characteristics: Not an aggressive lizard, but it is ready to defend itself when provoked. If approached too closely, it will turn toward the intruder with its mouth open. If it bites, it hangs on tenaciously and must be pried off. Its venom glands and grooved teeth are on its bottom jaw.

Habitat: Found in arid areas, coming out at night or early morning hours in search of small rodents and bird eggs. During the heat of the day it stays under brush or rocks.

Length: Average 30 centimeters, maximum 50 centimeters.

Distribution: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, northern Mexico, and extreme corner of southeast California.

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