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Mexican Beaded Lizard

Heloderma horridum

A venomous lizard species

Closely related to the Gila monster

About the Species

Their bumpy skin helps to protect them

The beaded lizards get their name from the bumps along their skin which look like beads. These beads are made of little pieces of bone under the skin called osteoderms. These osteoderms help to protect the animal against the elements, making their skin much tougher.

They have venom glands on their bottom jaw and grooved bottom teeth. When the lizards start the chew, the venom seeps up from the grooves in the teeth using capillary action. There is no antivenom made for these animals because there has never been a recorded human fatality from a bite. There will, however, be a lot of pain and swelling, and the victim would need to go to the hospital to get treatment for that.

These lizards are not typically very quick and need to eat food that cannot run away such as eggs, young birds, mammals, and other reptiles, as well as carrion. They store extra fat in their tails to live off of during times when food is scarce.

Beaded lizards spend the majority of their lives underground in burrows to escape the desert heat and become active at night. They will hibernate when temperatures remain consistently cool during the day.

Words From the Experts


We have two Mexican beaded lizards, Bandita and Manchado. They're siblings! Find them both inside of the Herpetarium.




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Western Mexico, Southwestern U.S. and Northern Guatemala

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Dry forests, scrublands and woodlands

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22-36 inches in length, 3-6 pounds in weight

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Eggs, young birds and mammals, other reptiles

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Coyotes and birds of prey

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Natural Defenses

Venomous bite

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Females will lay 22 eggs between October and December

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Least concern

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Life Expectancy

20-40 years

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