Hartley's Crocodile Adventures has taken ownership of a Gila Monster lizard, one of only two venomous lizards in the world. Hartley's senior reptile keeper Bill Collett gets acquainted with the lizard, which is native to South Western USA and Mexico. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures has taken ownership of a Gila Monster lizard, one of only two venomous lizards in the world. Hartley's senior reptile keeper Bill Collett gets acquainted with the lizard, which is native to South Western USA and Mexico. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Venomous lizard brings monster appeal to Far North zoo

A LITTLE monster has found a home at a Far Northern zoo.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures has taken delivery of a gila monster, the first time a venomous lizard has been on show in northern Queensland.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures has taken ownership of a Gila Monster lizard. Hartley's senior reptile keeper Bill Collett gets acquainted with the lizard, which is native to South Western USA and Mexico. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures has taken ownership of a Gila Monster lizard. Hartley's senior reptile keeper Bill Collett gets acquainted with the lizard, which is native to South Western USA and Mexico. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Zoo group operations manager Michael O'Brien said the brightly-coloured lizard was native to the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts of the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico.

"It's remarkable beadwork-like scales have inspired indigenous artists for centuries," he said.

The reptile was one of only two truly venomous species of lizards found worldwide, Mr O'Brien said.

The Gila Monster lizard is one of only two poisonous lizards in the world. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
The Gila Monster lizard is one of only two poisonous lizards in the world. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"Bites from gilas cause excruciating pain with one report describing it as 'like boiling hot lava coursing through his veins'," he said. "However, deaths are very unlikely."