Tragedy or love story? A tale of two Gilas.

WARNING! Today’s post is not about snakes, but because 1) this is such an awesome story, and 2) Gilas have always been honorary snakes in my mind, I decided to include it here.


Our friend Jeff Servoss works for USFWS and in his spare time, does outreach for snakes (how cool is that?). He shared this story on Facebook and graciously allowed us to reprint it here, along with his photos. Enjoy!

Yesterday turned out to be fairly interesting. I was on my way to Costco in the early evening, along a major neighborhood arterial, when I rolled-up on a guy emptying the “contents” of a five-gallon bucket at the side of the road. To me, it sure seemed like the guy was releasing animals so I naturally pulled over and inquired. Sure enough, he was releasing two adult Gila monsters he found in his yard “entangled together.” I’m no expert at sex ID in Gilas (generally requires imaging technology for confirmation), but it appeared to be a mating pair. This guy lived at the edge of a wilderness boundary (Coronado National Forest) about a mile away, yet he decided it was best to release these two magnificent animals along a busy roadway with a retaining wall blocking one direction of movement (AKA – death sentence). After a brief but cordial lecture, I informed him that the wilderness behind his house was a much better location to release the animals. He understood and was really cool about it.


In looking for the just-released Gilas, one was found immediately, while the other was not readily visible. After some intensive searching of the immediate area, I discovered that it (the male?) had found a road-side quail nest and had commenced devouring at least half a dozen quail eggs in front of my eyes. How cool is that! When he was finished, I had them both in containers and heading home where I proceeded to hydrate them and feed them. The female (somewhat emaciated) ate seven adult mice, and the male, four adult mice (in addition to all the quail eggs).

the release1

This morning they were released into the canyon, with full tummies, behind this guy’s neighborhood into a boulder-strewn crevice. Upon release, the male was huffing and puffing with what I presumed to be “sexual excitement.” Of course, he abruptly followed his mate into the crevice I thought looked perfect as a lover’s den, and out of sight.

the release2

Indeed… tragedy was narrowly averted, and love was in the air. Hopefully these two beautiful animals produce a robust clutch of eggs due to be laid this August and expected to hatch a year from now… a gang of crazy-cute little whipper-snappers!

Do you have a cool story about saving a snake (or other reptile) that you’d like to share on our blog? We’d love to hear your story.