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What size is a Mexican beaded Lizard? (+ Video & Pics)

The Mexican Beaded Lizard is often referenced for its venomous bite, however, I wondered how big are these lizards and do people actually keep them in captivity? Let me explain.

What size is a Mexican Beaded Lizard? Up to 3 feet in length. Its body weight is typically up to 2 lbs.  Males and females have a stocky type build however the male is typically broader than the female. In addition to this, the male is usually larger than the female as well. The hatchlings typically are about 20 cm in length.

Now you know how large they can be, let me explain how big the largest recorded one is, what they actually are (natural habitat, scientific name, etc) and how their diet and housing can impact their size.

What is a Mexican beaded lizard?

The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum) is typically found in the west or central parts of Mexico. Its natural habitat is in the desert or tropical Forest areas. You can typically find it rested on rock ledges.

What is the largest recorded beaded lizard?

The largest recorded beaded lizard is up to 40 inches in length and almost 10 pounds in weight. So, it is a substantially sized lizard, especially in comparison to the Gilla monster.

How does their diet affect their size?

As you can imagine the diet of any lizard is very important to their growth. If they are not fed correctly, this can directly impact how big they grow. As well as their health for that reason. I’m going to explain what is the best diet for them, to make sure that you maximize their size.

Their diet in the wild

In the wild, they typically eat eggs of other small Reptiles and sometimes, they eat smaller animals.

Their diet in captivity

In captivity, they have a slightly different diet. They will typically eat small mice, rats, etc. I mentioned earlier, in the wild, they will typically eat eggs. However, in captivity, this is not a wise decision. And this is for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the eggs that they are fed in captivity have a large risk of passing on salmonella poisoning to the Lizard. Secondly, eggs typically are fatty food. In the wild, this is excellent, because they need to build up their fat reserves.

This is done by storing the fat in their tails so that they can allow for days when they cannot find food. This is a common occurrence in the wild.

However, in captivity, they are fed on a regular basis. Meaning eating fatty foods like eggs will build up fat reserves that are realistically never going to be used in captivity. The problem with this is, it can lead to obesity in the lizard and further health issues.

However, there are many other foods that it can eat in captivity such as a wide variety of insects.

The importance of correct housing to maximize their sides

In captivity, if you do not provide the correct housing this could stifle the growth of your Mexican beaded lizard. If it is not comfortable or cooped up in a small enclosure, it will not be able to grow to its maximum length.

For that reason, I’m going to give you some directions on the preferred housing in captivity. Also some of the ideal substrate and accessories that you should have in their housing to keep them happy and maximize their growth potential.

Enclosure Size

Firstly you need to make sure that the size of the enclosure is at least 3 1/2 feet square. But in reality, you want to make it even bigger than that. This is because some of them can be up to 3 feet in length. And they need more space to move around and feel comfortable.

It is also a good idea to have some vines or some kind of climbing accessories because they do like to climb to keep them self happy.


This lizard will be happy with newspaper as a substrate. However, f you really want to make them happy it’s better to have wood shavings, in particular, Aspen shavings. Reason being they’re easy to clean up and move back in after you’ve done your maintenance.

Enclosure Security

Security wise you need to make sure that you have a very secure lid. You need to remember that this lizard is venomous. Therefore if it escapes it can be quite dangerous. So a secure lid is very important.

Humidity and water requirements

This lizard is naturally from the desert so it really requires high humidity and also good water reserves. The water is ideally served in a large bowl. Even better, something that it can actually soak itself in and drink at the same time, it will really appreciate that.

Heating and lighting requirements

This lizard likes to have the temperature preferably in the lower end of the 70s on the cool side of its enclosure and over 80 degrees in the warm end of his enclosure. Splitting it up into a higher heated basking area and a cooler area is ideal.

This can be achieved by having a clamped lamp over the basking area with an appropriate bulb wattage to provide the 80 degrees that they require.

Are Mexican Beaded lizards too big to be handled?

Ideally, you do not want to consider handling these lizards. Even though you may have them in captivity they are not really safe to be handled.

The exception to this rule is if you are a trained professional. Even as a trained professional you will require some strong black leather gloves just in case you get bitten. Remember, they are venomous.

Their temperament is usually quite docile, but if they are provoked or upset they can bite. And if they bite they will inject dangerous venom.

By the way, if you find that you have ever been bitten by one, you need to consult medical attention immediately!

Related Questions:

How can you tell the difference between a Male & Female Beaded Lizard? Firstly the male is slightly larger than the female. In addition to this, while they are both quite stocky in build, the male is typically broader than the female.

How does the Mexican Beaded Lizard Inject Its venom? This lizard is one of the few lizards that are venomous. They have specially grooved teeth to help them seep their venom into the victim. They have venom glands that are perfectively aligned so that they can pass venom through the glands down the grooves in its teeth. The venom is pumped into its victim as it chews for the best effect.

Are Beaded Lizards Endangered? They are listed on the IUCN register as “Least Concern”. Meaning they are not endangered. They are also typically kept in protected areas to keep them from being hunted. However, there is a sub-species that is endangered, called the Montagua Valley Beaded Lizard. It is rumored to be as low as only 200 of them in the wild.

How long do they live for? They have quite a long lifespan. In particular 30+ years. So if you ever considered keeping one of these lizards you have to understand the commitment that is required here. This is far greater than having a pet dog for example.

Why is the Mexican Beaded Lizard Protected? This lizard is rarely seen in the wild and for that reason, it is seen as a “Trophy” for hunters. They can demand a high rate for selling them. For these reasons, they have been put under protection to save their numbers from dwindling in the wild.

How many eggs does a Female Beaded Lizard lay? This can range anything from 2 right up to 30 eggs. Quite a big range. The lizard becomes sexually active from the age of six. The male Beaded Lizards will often fight quite viciously for their chance to mate with the female. The winner gets their price and mates happily with the female.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.