Gila Monster Sends Man to AA

Gila monsters used to occasionally bite people who, for example, camped out in the desert, but it's been years since I heard of such a case. If news reports like this one are any indication, it's much more common to get bitten by a pet gila monster. Along with its cousin the Mexican beaded lizard, the Gila has the most medically significant venom yet discovered in a lizard.

During his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Derek Nathaneal Castaneda, 34, was also ordered to pay the Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Preservation Fund $1,000 and attend 52 Alcoholics Anonymous classes, according to city prosecutors.

Castaneda was convicted of unlawful possession of a native California reptile species and the unlawful keeping of a wild reptile without a permit. He was on probation at the time for an earlier DUI case, according to the City Attorney's Office.

State officials were notified Jan. 12 that Castaneda had been attacked by the Gila monster, had lost consciousness and had to be taken to a hospital, according to prosecutors.


  1. For some odd reason, in Mexico the Mexican beaded lizard is known as "escorpión", meaning scorpion. Yet the word "escorpión" is also used for actual scorpions, but only for the large ones; the small (and more dangerous) ones are known as "alacrán", from Arabic "al-agrab" meaning scorpion. What a mess languages are... XD

    I've read that many people report "allergic reactions" after being bitten by lizards of several species (iguanas included). I wonder if these reactions aren´t actually caused by venom instead. If so, there may be lizards out there with medically significant venom other than Heloderma and monitor lizards...

  2. I'll bet you're right. When last I read up on this,the biologists were reporting four families of venomous lizards, with many of the species within those families not yet carefully examined on this question. Lots of interesting possibilities.

    I love the language stuff. Arachnids seem to suffer from this sort of confusion worse than any other group of animals.


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