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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.


I just knew it-- someone would just have to correct the "poison vs venom" Fauo Pa or how ever you spell it.... LOL

Estee -

You're correct, although according to a number of sources, the two terms are often used interchangeably in both spoken and written descriptions of the reptiles. Both terms are applied to Gila monsters in the article.

Gila monsters are not poisonous, they are venomous. Poison is eaten, venom is injected.

gila monsters are cute and all,but watch out! they bite!

this is the most retarted thing i've ever heard of, why would a person pick up a gila monster, they are poisonous, and DUH! your going to get bitten dumb***

“ I have never been called to attend a case of Gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a Gila monster ought to die. The creature is so sluggish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten. ”

—Dr. Ward, Arizona Graphic, September 23, 1899

My Mom was one of the park volunteers. The bitten gentleman was taken to her house. She called 911 for the ambulance. The man indeed was not "all quite there", but then again he had already been bitten and was severely dehydrated. Mental illness or not, how foolish to fling any creature around your neck like that.

Who should REALLY be getting the attention here is the NICE guy who stopped to assist this "homeless-looking" man on the side of the road. In our society today, I would venture to say most of us would drive-on by: myself included. Kudos to this nice guy who stopped, you might have saved this man's life!!! May we all be willing to take such a risk.

I have to agree, the guys a dumb***. Some people may think that you should give the man a break, WELL who is giving the animals a break??? I'm sorry for this homeless man that was off his meds( I'm glad the doctar diagnosed this for us). Perhaps in the future he will not listen to the gila monster when he wants to be his friend.

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