The Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) is by far one of my favorite lizards of all time. They are an icon of the American Southwest and a legend of the reptile world for many herpetologists. In fact for many reptile enthusiasts, gilas are the "unicorn" of all lizards. They are indeed that for me, a "unicorn species," and everyday I feel so very fortunate to work with a small group of these amazing venomous lizards.
Utah Banded Gila Monsters
Heloderma suspectum cinctum
The Utah Banded Gila Monster is a naturally occurring locality specific subspecies of the only venomous lizard in the US. These animals originate from the northern most portion of the species' range in Washington County in the extreme southwestern corner of Utah. They also recently (2019) became the state reptile of Utah.
Gila Monsters are protected from collection and harassment in all states where they are indigenous and therefore sourcing captive animals is a very specified process. Every captive gila must be accompanied with proof of legal acquisition/propagation to satisfy US Fish and Wildlife Service requirements.
Nearly all the privately held Utah Banded Gila lineages originate from Professional Breeders (R) owned and operated by Steve and Karen Osborne. In 1989 Steven and Karen Osborne were loaned a breeding group (10+ animals) from CalPoly University. From those animals and some zoo stock animals they were able to establish several unrelated maternal lines of captive bred gilas. Since then they have been selectively breeding these for color and pattern. My animals are all from their bloodlines with documentation. I have raised all mine from hatchlings or juveniles and hope to begin breeding these young adults (4-5 years old) in the coming seasons.