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.

Comments

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: americaincontext.com

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!

I typed *MAY* not be mentally fit. There's a difference between MAY and IS.

The statistics are there about the correlation between being homeless and having a debilitating disease such as schizophenia (which may be why the man got the impression from the gila monster that "it wanted to be friends").

Homeless with such diagnoses are also less likely to stay on their meds schedule.

The whole point of my original post was hoping that ya'll would cut the guy some slack. The first couple posts were mean in regards to the man. If the gila monster somehow communicated to the man that "it wanted to be friends", what do you think? If he is having a problem due to an undiagnosed condition, should he be charged with a crime?

Here's the NPS Morning Report section...July 9
"Saguaro National Park (AZ)
Man Bitten Twice By Poisonous Gila Monster

On June 25th, a 24-year-old homeless man who had wandered into the park found a gila monster and 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. He then 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 appeared uninjured, and 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. [Submitted by Bob Love, Chief Ranger] "

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.

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 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

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***

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

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

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.

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