Even at the right time of year in the right habitat, Gila Monsters are not easy to find. But I had a secret weapon — Roger Repp, Gila Monster finder extraordinaire. The estimable Mr. Repp, past president of the Tucson Herpetological Society, has found dozens and dozens of wild Gila Monsters, and has even been radio-tracking a few of them for long-term behavioral studies. He most generously volunteered to spend some herping time with me while I was in town, letting me set the priorities. My priorities were simple: my visit would be a roaring success if I saw a Gila Monster. So Roger planned our time to maximize our chances of doing so.
I guess there's not really any suspense in this story, given that you are reading my Gila Monster sighting page, and you've already seen a few photos of one just above. So I'll just point out that the first picture above shows Roger along with the first Gila Monster we saw that morning. It was a young adult, plodding across the road in a way that only Gila Monsters can plod. The other photos above are of the same individual after it had made its way across the road and into the desert scrub.
Now that I've seen the mighty Gila Monster, I need to pick a new animal to put atop my U.S. want-to-see list. My friend Jackson Shedd suggests the beautiful Reticulate Collared Lizard, though that would probably require multiple visits to south Texas.
The previous evening while out road-cruising, I had seen a Gila Monster plodding across the road. That one had the distinction of being the first Gila Monster that I personally located. But when I saw it, I had a Border Patrol jeep riding my butt so I couldn't stop quickly to take pictures. By the time I managed to turn around and get back to the spot where I had seen it, it was long gone.
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