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Man Bitten at Saguaro National Park by Gila Monster


"You might find me cute, but let's not be friends." Photo of gila monster by alumroot via flickr.

Not only shouldn't you pose next to bison in Yellowstone National Park, but if you're visiting Saguaro National Park don't try to make friends with poisonous gila monsters. That lesson was painfully delivered to a 24-year-old man.

The man wandered into the park on June 25 and, spying a gila monster, picked it up because – as he later told rangers – "it wanted to be friends." The man then placed the gila on his shoulders, whereupon it promptly bit him on the neck. While trying to shed the animal, it bit him once more on the hand.

Then, according to rangers, he picked it up and wrapped it in a piece of clothing. A park volunteer encountered the man walking on a roadway adjacent to the park and asked if he needed help. The man told the volunteer what had happened, then showed him the gila.

Rangers were summoned; when they arrived, they found the man vomiting and complaining of difficulty breathing. He was transported by ambulance to a Tucson area hospital, where he was admitted for treatment of the bites, heat exhaustion and severe dehydration.

The gila, apparently uninjured, was returned to the park.

This was the park's second gila bite incident this year. Gila monsters are native to the American southwest and northern Mexico and are the only venomous lizard native to the United States. These heavy, slow-moving lizards can grow up to two feet long and can weigh up to three pounds. Because of their slowness, they rarely present a threat to humans.


Can I post the word "dumbass" on this website? Because I can't really describe this any other way ...


My travels through the National Park System:

So was this idiot charged with anything? It seems that trying to steal a gila monster from a national park (even though Saguaro isn't much of one) is a federal offense. Oh, I better go. There's a brown bear knocking on my front door. I think it wants to be friends.

But this is one more reason why we NEED our National Parks.

Americans are growing further and further distanced from the natural world, other creatures and the land. Our Disney-ized, New Age-y image of animals as kindly brothers does not reflect the reality that animals, like people, deserve respect and distance and, when provoked, will act, not like Bambi or Balloo, but like the wild beasts they are.

The National Parks are places where over-civilized, over-malled and over-asphalted people can reconnect in a REAL way (in this case in a painfully real way) with nature as it is. If we lose the parks, we lose these places of contact and our culture will deserve all the bear maulings, hanta viruses and gila monster bites it gets.

NPS Morning Report June 9 states man was homeless so he may not be 100% mentally fit.

How the hell do you know he was homeless?

And how does being homeless equate to not being mentally fit? I know that there are many homeless people that have psychological problems and ailments, but don't paint the picture that if someone is homeless he must have something wrong him mentally.

Anonymous: The NPS Morning Report (as stated in the post above and available to read on the NPS website) says he was homeless.

Mookie: C'mon. Anyone who puts a gila monster on their shoulders because he thinks it wants to be friends *isn't* all there...

Guess this is another case where a concealed weapon would have solved all the world's woes. Damn those wild animals are vicious!

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