G Day


It’s G Day!  Today’s topic is animals that you might see while hiking out in the Sonoran Desert.  One of them is venomous, and the other animal isn’t.  Let’s begin with the dangerous one!

gila monster

The Gila monster is a venomous lizard that’s native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It’s a heavy, slow-moving sluggish lizard, which is a good thing because if you see this fellow (or lady), you want to go around it!  The Gila monster is the only venomous lizard that’s native to the United States, and one of only two known species of venomous lizards in North America – the other lizard is the Gila Monster’s close relative, the Mexican beaded lizard.  Our Sonoran Desert lizard can grow up to 2 feet long, or 60cm.  While it’s true that the Gila monster is venomous, its sluggish nature means that it poses little threat to humans. But it does have a nasty reputation, and is sometimes killed despite being protected by state law in Arizona.


Our second animal is the Gila Woodpecker.  This bird lives in the desert regions of the southwestern United States.  They build nests in holes made in saguaro cactior mesquite trees. The cavities created by the woodpeckers in the saguaro cacti are later used by other species, including the Elf Owl.  The Gila woodpecker does all the work, and others get to enjoy the fruits of their labors!  🙂



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joe Owens
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 17:42:23

    I always enjoy learning about creatures that are not native to my area. It seems there are just so many different ones to see and learn about across our great country (USA) as well as all around the world.


  2. C.B. Wentworth
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 18:51:47

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen a Gila Monster, but I have spotted the woodpecker. 🙂


    • Julia Stevenson
      Apr 09, 2013 @ 12:28:18

      I’ve only seen one Gila Monster, and it was at the Phoenix Zoo – but I’ve had friends who have hiked down around Tucson and have seen them. But I’m like you – I’ve seen the woodpecker.


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