Many people wonder how many species of venomous lizards there are in the world, and the truth is rather shocking. Lizards have only two species of venomous lizards that are known. The gila monster and the Mexican bearded lizard are the only known species that actually deliver venomous bites. The largest lizard in the world, the Komodo Dragon, does deliver a bacteria laden bite that can kill, but it is not venomous. These two fascinating lizards are both found in North America, and they both are wonders of nature.
The Gila Monster
With a name like “gila monster” one would think that this animal was ferocious and fearsome. The truth is, they are extremely secretive and are rarely seen. The gila monster is a lizard that is only about 19 inches long when they are fully grown, and they feed on small mammals and eggs primarily. They are venomous and dangerous to humans, but a healthy human will generally not die from the bite. Younger children, the elderly or someone with a compromised immune system may have more problems, however.
The gila monster produces the venom in their salivary glands and then delivers it through grooves in their teeth when they bite. The venom is designed to affect the nervous system in their prey, and they often cause the lungs to stop working.
The gila monster is found in the southwestern parts of North America as well as the northern half of Mexico. They are heavy bodied lizards, and they have scales that look much like beaded, colored water. They are generally black and orange in color, but they sometimes can be pinkish and even red. They have very fat tails that they use to keep them alive when they are hiding out during the long winters.
The Mexican Beaded Lizard
The Mexican beaded lizard is a close relative to the gila monster and has the same venom delivery system. They are larger than their more famous cousins, growing up to 35 inches in some cases. These heavy lizards are much more flexible about where they live. While the gila monster remains in the desert most of the time, the Mexican beaded lizard thrives also among the forests of Central America. They are also found in Mexico.
The beaded lizard is also an excellent climber. They can often be found far up rock piles and cliffs, and they are equally at home hunting along the forest floor. These lizards are very strong and are able to eat birds, other lizards, snakes, and eggs. They also have been known to eat mice, rats, and any other small mammals that happen to come close enough. They swallow their prey in large chunks, or whole when size allows.
While the gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard are the only two known venomous species of lizards, the scientific community is leaving open the possibility that their are others that have not been identified yet. With the huge amount of lizards in the world, this is surely a distinct possibility.