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Gila Monsters Hatch at Aqua Terra Zoo


After a four-and-a-half month incubation period, several Gila Monsters have hatched at Austria’s Aqua Terra Zoo.  Hatchlings are about 6 inches long (15 cm) and can bite and produce venom from the moment they hatch. 

Native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, Gila Monsters are one of only two venomous lizard species native to North America.  (The other is the Mexican beaded lizard.)  Despite being venomous, Gila Monsters are slow-moving, so they are not a great threat to humans. 


Photo Credit:  Aqua Terra Zoo

Gila Monsters do not inject their venom; rather it is applied through capillary action while the lizard is chewing its prey.  They typically feed on bird and reptile eggs, and in the wild may eat less than a dozen times per year.

Drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes have been derived from Gila Monster saliva.  Research continues on other components of Gila Monster saliva as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.