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Gila Monsters



Gila Monsters
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.43

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    arid, bead-like, dressers, HEE-luh, intimidate, intricate, northwestern, semi-arid, tending, understandable, devour, species, venomous, behavior, lifespan, poisonous
     content words:    Gila River Basin, Female Gila


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Gila Monsters   

1     Gila (pronounced "HEE-luh") monsters are the largest lizard species in the U.S. They measure up to 2 feet in length and 3 pounds in weight. They are also one of the only two poisonous lizard species on Earth! (The other is the Mexican beaded lizard.) Named after the Gila River basin where they were first discovered, they dwell in arid and semi-arid areas of southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico.
 
2     Gila monsters are creative dressers. They cover their entire bodies with bead-like scales in yellow, orange, white, pink, and black. Though their colorful outfits -- lacking intricate patterns and elaborate designs -- are not very pretty, they send a clear message to any animal that dares to intimidate them. "I am venomous; don't mess with me!"
 
3     Gila monsters are stoutly built and slow moving. Because speed is not their strength, they rely on their senses of smell and taste to track down prey. When in search of food (such as rodents, reptiles, birds, and eggs), Gila monsters flick their forked tongues in and out of their mouths to "taste" the air. Once they manage to pick up traces of scent particles left by a small animal, they follow the trail of evidence that eventually leads them to their next meal. Gila monsters subdue prey with their powerful jaws and sharp teeth. As they bite forcefully into the doomed victim, they deliver venom through the grooved teeth on their lower jaws where their venom glands are located.

Paragraphs 4 to 5:
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