Dangerous Animals - Dangerous Lizards

The Gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard are dangerous and poisonous lizards.

Gila Monster
The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectrum) of the American southwest, including Mexico, is a large lizard with dark, highly textured skin marked by pinkish mottling. It averages 35 to 45 centimeters in length and has a thick, stumpy tail. Unlikely to bite unless molested, it has a poisonous bite.

Mexican Beaded Lizard
The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum) resembles its relative, the Gila monster. It has more uniform spots rather than bands of color (the Gila monster). It also is poisonous and has a docile nature. You find it from Mexico to Central America.

Komodo Dragon
This giant lizard (Varanus komodoensis) grows to more than 3 meters in length and can be dangerous if you try to capture it. This Indonesian lizard can weigh more than 135 kilograms.


Common sense will tell you to avoid confrontations with hippopotami, alligators, crocodiles, and other large river creatures. There are, however,
a few smaller river creatures with which you should be cautious.

Electric Eel
Electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) may reach 2 meters in length
and 20 centimeters in diameter. Avoid them. They are capable of generating up to 500 volts of electricity in certain organs in their body. They use this shock to stun prey and enemies. Normally, you find these eels in the Orinoco and Amazon River systems in South America. They seem to prefer shallow waters that are more highly
oxygenated and provide more food. They are bulkier than our native eels. Their upper body is dark gray or black, with a lighter-colored underbelly.

Piranhas (Serrasalmo species) are another hazard of the Orinoco and
Amazon River systems, as well as the Paraguay River Basin, where they are native. These fish vary greatly in size and coloration, but usually have a combination of orange undersides and dark tops. They have white, razor-sharp teeth that are clearly visible. They may be as long as 50 centimeters. Use great care when crossing waters where they live. Blood attracts them. They are most dangerous in shallow waters during the dry season.

Be careful when handling and capturing large freshwater turtles, such as
the snapping turtles and soft-shelled turtles of North America and the matamata and other turtles of South America. All of these turtles will
bite in self-defense and can amputate fingers and toes.

The platypus or duckbill (Ornithorhyncus anatinus) is the only member of its family and is easily recognized. It has a long body covered with grayish, short hair, a tail like a beaver, and a bill like a duck. Growing
up to 60 centimeters in length, it may appear to be a good food source, but this egg-laying mammal, the only one in the world, is very dangerous. The male has a poisonous spur on each hind foot that can inflict intensely painful wounds. You find the platypus only in Australia, mainly along mud banks on waterways.


In areas where seas and rivers come together, there are dangers associated
with both fresh and salt water. In shallow salt waters, there are many creatures that can inflict pain and cause infection to develop. Stepping on sea urchins, for example, can produce pain and infection. When moving about in shallow water, wear some form of footgear and shuffle your feet along the bottom, rather than picking up your
feet and stepping.
Stingrays (Dasyatidae species) are a real hazard in shallow waters, especially tropical waters. The type of bottom appears to be irrelevant. There is a great variance between species, but all have a sharp spike in their tail that may be venomous and can cause extremely painful wounds if stepped on. All rays have a typical shape that resembles a kite. You find them along the coasts of the Americas, Africa, and