The Rogue Speaks:
There's a lot of stuff in the desert that can hurt you, besides the cactus thorns! We have scorpions, rattle snakes, poisonous toads, to name a few. We also have this big fellow:
There are only two venomous lizards--the Gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard. The Gila monster bites very quickly and doesn't let go!! It doesn't have fangs like snakes do. Instead, it has grooved teeth through which the venom flows into the bite. The venom is very toxic, as toxic as a rattlesnake, but the Gila monster doesn't give off as much venom as the rattlesnake into a bite.
Gila monsters spend most of their life in hiding below ground. They are large (the largest lizards in the U.S.) and they are long (about 22 inches) and they can store more energy that small lizards. They store the energy in the fat in their tail and their bodies. They can also eat large meals. The have a low basal metabolism, so they do not require many meals. They eat small birds, other lizards, eggs, and field mice.
When they venture out above ground, they have been known to find their way to my house--particularly my sliding glass door to my bedroom. Actually, that has only happened once, but once is more than enough for me. Our barking dog alerted me to something lurking in the shadows one night. I turned on the lights and there he was!!
The fire department is very good at rushing out to removed these guys, so I immediately called 911. The firemen were here in less than 10 minutes. One rookie decided to simply pick up Mr. Gila, and put him in the bucket, but his supervisor stopped him just in time. If the Gila monster feels threatened, he can spit his venom at you! And his hiss alone is enough to scare you away.
This guy was determined to get in my house:
He was taken away and relocated away from houses, for our protection and his. Gilas are threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and are protected under Arizona law. They may live over 20 years!
But the Gila monster isn't all bad. A component of his venom called extendin-4 has been shown to aid in treating type-2 diabetes. Now if you happen to have this illness, please don't run out and try to catch one of these creatures! Their bite is extremely painful!
This concludes my post on this visitor to my desert home. There are a few more I wish had never come to visit, but that's for another time. Please read more offerings at Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday!