If you find yourself in the desert of the southwestern United States, do yourself a favor and try not to step on a gila monster. This orange-and-black-speckled reptile is the only venomous lizard native to the U.S. It’s got powerful jaws and a ferocious bite, which it pairs with venomous saliva to consume its prey. Although toxic, a bite won’t kill an adult human. This desert denizen camouflages well between the dusty pebbles and dry flora of its surroundings. Sadly, agricultural and residential development have severely stunted the gila monster’s natural habitat. Since these lizards spend most of their time underground, we don’t know exactly how many are left.
This story is a part of our Planet Earth series. From mammals to insects and birds to reptiles, we share this great big world with all manner of creatures, large and small. Come with us to faraway places as we explore our great big planet and meet some of its wildest inhabitants.
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