Mexican beaded lizards

The Mexican beaded lizard is a venomous lizard. Its venom is produced the glans of the lower jaw. The lizards grabs a prey and spreads the venom in the victim by chewing on it.
Until recently, it was assumed that only Helodermatidae produce a venom which is dangerous for humans. Of the species Helodermatidae only two species are known: the Gila monster and the beaded lizard. Besides venomous snakes, these are said to be the only venomous reptiles. Recent studies, however, have shown that there are in fact more types of iguana’s and lizards with venom glands.

The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum exasperatum) is a medium sized lizard. The animal can grow up to 75 centimeters in length and weigh up to two kilo’s. Males tend to be longer and heavier than females. The skin of the beaded lizard is covered in small beadlike scales. These that turn the skin into a strong armor. The armor protects the animal against animals with beaded lizards on their menu but also camouflages in order to capture their own prey. Their base color is black and marked with varying amounts of yellow, red or pink spots or bands. Their tails are striped.

In the wild, beaded lizards live in deciduous forests and thorn scrub forests of Mexico and Guatemala. They live on eggs, small mammals, frogs, birds and reptiles. The animals only spend a small amount of time above ground, during dawn or night.

Artis Zoo in the Netherlands now homes five young beaded lizards. It is a special accomplishment for the zoo itself and a piece of good luck for the European breeding program of the beaded lizard.