Gila Monster

The Gila monster as Utah's state reptile

The Gila monster without a doubt, should be our State Reptile. It beautifully represents Utah, both its history and even its geography. The Gila Monster has been here in Utah since the times of the dinosaurs. Because this reptile is Near Threatened is the reason that seventh graders from Lava Ridge are going to Salt Lake to make them Utah's State Reptile.

Why Do we need a State Reptile?

Twenty-six of the 50 states have a State Reptile. Utah is one of the states that don't. It has symbols ranging from the State Historic Vegetable (Sugar Beet) and the State Oven (Dutch Oven), all the way to a State Folk Dance (Square Dance), but no State Reptile.

The Status of being the state reptile brings awareness to that reptile. The Gila Monster, being near threatened, is a good candidate for that awareness. In addition, there are so many misconceptions about the Gila Monster because it is very reclusive.

Historical Relevance & Connections

Connections to the Utah Pioneers

The Gila Monster is in a way connected to the pioneers. Not by any physical connections, but by the fact that they both share common characteristics. The Pioneers needed perseverance, preservation, and the will to survive in harsh conditions. The Gila Monster also exhibited these traits.

Connections to the America Indians in Utah

The Gila Monster also has significant importance in the cultures of the American Indians that reside in Utah. The Navajo uses the Gila Monster as a figure of power in many of their legends and many other tribes believe that it is bad luck to kill a Gila Monster and other lizards or reptiles.

Meet the Experts

Cameron Rognan

Administrator & Biologist of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

William Heyborne

Herpetology Professor at Southern Utah University


Biologist of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve