His Pet Gila Monster Bit Him. Within Days, He Was Dead

Experts say this was a rare event
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2024 2:30 AM CST
Updated Feb 24, 2024 12:45 PM CST
His Pet Gila Monster Bit Him. He Was Dead Within Days
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / reptiles4all)

A Gila monster, one of two a Colorado man had as pets, bit the 34-year-old man on February 12. Four days later, the man died in a hospital in what experts say was a rare occurrence. While Gila monster bites can be so painful they cause victims to lose consciousness, they are not typically fatal, CBS News reports. "The last case [involving a death] I have been able to find was 1930 and that was not even a medical journal case," says a medical toxicologist and reptile expert with the Asclepius Snakebite Foundation.

Still, Gila monsters are one of just two types of venomous lizards in the world, KVOA reported last year, when an Arizona man was left in critical condition after a bite from one of the reptiles. In this case, authorities are investigating the man's death, and the aforementioned expert suggests an allergic reaction to the Gila monster's venom could be to blame. The two pet Gila monsters, which are illegal to own in Colorado without a license, were relocated to a wildlife rehab center. The tragedy, says a criminal investigator with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, illustrates that "venomous reptiles are hazardous and should only be handled or possessed by people with the proper training." (More Colorado stories.)

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