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Gila Monster Natural History Paper

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Essay title: Gila Monster Natural History Paper

“Gila Monster”

-Scientific Classification-

Kingdom: Anamalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Helodermatidae

Genus: Heloderma

Species: Heloderma suspectum

-Binomial Name-

Heloderma suspectum

Two subspecies:

Heloderma suspectum cinctum, banded gila monster

Heloderma suspectum suspectum, reticulated gila monster

The gila monster has got to be the least identified creature I have ever studied. What I mean is on WikiPedia.com, a site I am thankful for because I have used it greatly on past reports and it is great, there is barely anything on the gila monster. There might be four paragraphs that are each four sentences, if that. So to do this report it took many, many, many great resources to compile enough information where I thought I had told you everything about the gila monster, well almost everything. So I hope you enjoy and even pick up a few things from the following descriptions of the gila monster's habitat, niche, lifespan, range, reproductive behaviors, current population status, and a little bit about how the venomous saliva of the creature is very helpful to us.

First of all, the gila monster grows to about 21-22 inches long, and is a diurnal carnivore that is slow and sluggish but can lunge quickly to grab on to its prey with a very tenacious bite. It has short

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legs and they are set far apart. It has curved claws on its feet and they use those for digging. Its tongue is like a snake in the way it can pick up scents. The animal's tail serves as an indicator of how healthy it is. A plump tail means its well fed and healthy, where as a bony, triangular shaped tail means that the lizard is starving and dehydrated. Their skin patterns provide camouflage and also serves as a warning sign to predators. Is the largest lizard known to the United States, and is one of only a few lizards that is venomous, although its venom is not very strong and is mainly used just for defense as they feed on mainly eggs and very small rodents and birds. No person in good physical condition and given the right medical assistance has ever died from a gila monster bite.

The gila monster is a very elusive character. They estimate that the average gila monster spends 98% of its time underground, proving to be rarely seen or studied to a great detail. They live in underground shelters like dens in the earth, burrows, and they also like to live under overhanging rocks that sort of make them a cave. Gila monsters are normally found in shrubby deserts, rocky canyons, arroyos, mountain slopes, oak woodlands, and plains and beaches that are near the earlier habitats. They really like to live in sandy soils with shrubs that are in a moister desert. They need that moister desert because their skin is permeable and they need the moist air to keep hydrated and healthy.

So with these habitats I've already told you about, the gila monsters range is from southwestern Utah, the southern tip of Nevada, southwestern New Mexico, all across Arizona, northwestern Mexico and especially the state of Sonora, Mexico. They are believed to have gotten their name from the Gila River Basin in Arizona, where they were once very abundant.

The reproductive behaviors of the gila monster are just as typical as most. The male showing dominance to the female by fighting other males, right? Well they may be alike, but how many other animals can engage in a wrestling match that can last several hours or possibly days. During the mating season, male gila monsters show signs of territoriality and go on a quest for dominance. When male gila monsters fight, they go through hours of snorting, head pressing, and body twisting until one of

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them gives up and leaves. Its more or less a wrestling match where one tries to get on the back of the other and remain their whilst his opponent twists and turns around in an effort to reverse his position. The point is to try and keep your opponent on the ground. When a female is located, sometimes by scent trail, she is courted by the male in a ritual

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