The Gila monster (pronounced HEE-luh) is a small, striking lizard with black scales and an array of orange stripes and spots. Along with their close cousins, the beaded lizards, Gila monsters belong to one of the only families of venomous lizards on Earth.
Gila monsters appear pebbly in appearance due to a living coat of armor. Osteoderms, or tiny chips of bone embedded within the skin, give the lizards a degree of protection against predators, such as coyotes and hawks.
Gila monsters spend more than 90 percent of their lives below ground, which makes them difficult for scientists to research. However, some radiotracking work has revealed that the animals will, on occasion, travel more than a mile at a