I Was Holding a Lizard No One Knew Was Deadly

I was handling a lizard no one knew was deadly, until just now.

Gila Monsters are venomous. It’s been known from day one, since 1890. This is probably the first lizard species ever known to be venomous, over 120 years before we learned that Komodo Dragons are venomous.

Gila monster bites are painful but have always been described as “not fatal to humans”. When I was in Arizona I met and asked some people who had been bitten by Gila monsters and all of them said not a big deal.

And finally on the news earlier today there’s a Colorado man in his 30’s killed by a Gila monster. This is probably the first and only confirmed fatality from a Gila monster bite.

According to the Jefferson County coroner, the man’s cause of death is pending.

There were rare fatalities recorded before 1930 but those were intoxicated by alcohol or had mismanaged the treatment of the bite.

What we can say is we didn’t (and don’t) know these animals well enough.

What I can say is I was lucky this cute little monster was being gentle and going easy on me!



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