These Gila Monsters may look ferocious, but they are really shy, slow moving fellows who would rather avoid human contact. Since they move rather sluggishly so aren’t much of a threat to humans. Although the only poisonous lizard in the United States, an individual would have to really bother them or handle them to receive a bite. The main problem with being bit is that their jaw locks down and can’t be separated so the poison is slowly released.
However, it has earned a fearsome reputation and is sometimes killed by hikers and homeowners despite
being protected by Arizona state law. Cars can also kill them as we found out recently when we found a young dead one at the side of our entrance driveway at our Bed & Breakfast in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains near Saguaro National Park East.
Years ago, our miniature poodle had a tendency to tease a rather large one that burrowed under a palo verde tree on our property. The Gila Monster must have grazed our pet’s lower lip because she began to foam at the mouth. Since we knew she had a tendency to tease the lizard, we rinsed out her mouth with a water hose, and she survived to live through an additional attack at a later date by coyotes. One tough dog!