Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum)
Photo: Aaron Downing
Common Name: Beaded Lizard
Other Common Names: Mexican Beaded Lizard
Scientific Name: Heloderma horridum (Full Taxonomy)
Origin or Range: Mexico
Relative Size: Larger Than Average (as compared to other lizards)
Average Lifespan: ??? year(s)
Compatibility: Average (as compared to other lizards)
Category: Reptiles ?? Lizards
One of the two lizards that are actually venomous, the Beaded Lizard is as lovely as it is dangerous to predators. These beautiful lizards are hardy and interesting to observe.
In the wild, Beaded Lizards eat birds, lizards, various small mammals, and eggs. In captivity, they are usually fed a diet of mice. They generally are only active at night, and spend their time foraging for food. Beaded Lizards hide during the day in burrows, which they scoop out themselves. They will also stay underneath rocks, or in preexisting burrows or tunnels, resting during the hottest hours of the day. Beaded Lizards can climb and swim in addition to regular movement over dry land. Although Beaded Lizards do poison their prey, their venom is also useful to help the Beaded Lizard escape predators. If it bites an animal that is trying to eat it, its chances of getting away become much better. They have a bulldog-like bite and will clamp down and hang on.
Beaded Lizards are covered in tiny, shiny, raised bumpy scales that look like polished beads. These are generally black with orange, yellow, or pink accents. The head and the feet of a Beaded Lizard are usually solid black. Their short, thick tails have yellow bands and there are poison glands located in the lower jaw. When the Beaded Lizard bites its prey, the poison flows in through the bite wound. Generally, Beaded Lizards grow to about two or three feet in length and can weigh up to five pounds. They have heavy, thick bodies and are stocky in appearance.
Beaded Lizards, also known as Mexican Beaded Lizards, are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild. They suffer from habitat loss and are often even suffocated in their burrows in slash-and-burn agricultural practices. Another problem is the over collection of the Beaded Lizard for the pet trade. Beaded Lizards are native to semi-tropical and hot, dry areas of Mexico along the Pacific Coast, although their range may occasionally extend further to the southwestern United States. There are several collections of Beaded Lizards held by large organizations, allowing for good genetic exchange. Beaded Lizards are a taxonomic mystery; it is thought there are four subspecies, but further study is required