Monster Heloderma suspectum
Monsters are lizards with a poisonous bite. They move slowly and
spend most of the day in a self-dug hole. They may rest for days
or weeks emerging almost exclusively at night. Prey is detected
by a highly developed sense of smell and taste. The tail is used
as a store of fat and is often swollen but becomes reduced after
any period of fasting.
Found: South-west America and Mexico
Habitat: Desert scrubland, rocky regions
Status: Numbers decreasing
Length: Up to 0.5m
Incubation: 120 days
No. of Young: 3-13 eggs/clutch
Food in wild: Small mammals, birds, frogs, insects, carrion,
reptile & bird eggs
Lifespan: 25 years
Aid Research into Diabetes
The Gila lizard – is another creature assisting the cause of human
The Gila hails from Arizona, but are popular zoo exhibits, being
spectacularly eye-catching with their:
and black or
Glasgow Zoopark is one of the places to breed them regularly in
Europe. The Gila's venom contains the compound "Exendin" which is
being turned into a new drug to fight Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes
is suffered by approximately 1.2 million people in Britain.
Exendin is similar to a natural hormone called GLP1 and has the
power to control the secretion of the body's own insulin. It also
influences the speed the stomach empties, and regulates appetite.
Doctors hope it will reduce the death rate from the complications
of diabetes, which include strokes and heart attacks.