Photo of the Venomous Gila Monster Getting an X-ray
November 28, 2007
Dr. Tim Georoff, a veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, handles this venomous lizard with great care as he prepares this female for an radiograph (X-ray).
The Plexiglass housing is part of precautionary measures as the Gila monster’s venom is present in its saliva, and is injected into its prey through grooves in the teeth of its lower jaw. Gila monsters hold on tightly and chew, working their neurotoxic venom into the bite.
This female is being x-rayed to check to see if she is gravid, meaning full of eggs.
Gila Monster Getting an X-ray. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society.
The Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum, is a lizard native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is a heavy, slow moving species that may reach 60 cm (2 feet) in length. It is the most venomous lizard native to the U.S. but its bite is normally not fatal to humans.
The Gila monster is a threatened species under the United States Federal Endangered Species Act and also appears in Appendix II of CITES, restricting its export. The main threats to the species are habitat destruction, accidental mortality caused by vehicles, over harvesting, and invasive alien species according to the IUCN Red List.