CALGARY, Alberta – A venomous Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) named Fred has been trained to take over the duties of a guard dog at a Calgary pipe storage facility operated by Bendovus Oil Co. Pipe yard manager Berg R. King is quite pleased with Fred’s performance. He said, “Fred just does his job without a lot of false-alarm barking or other drama we had with the Rottweiler we used to have. Also, he catches and kills his own food and is very low maintenance. He just needs some water and a big pile of rocks to hang out in. His life span is 20-30 years, a lot longer than that of a dog.
“If someone breaks into the yard, Fred will sneak up on them and bite the shit out of their leg. When his venom (which is as toxic as a rattlesnake’s) kicks in, the intruder will wish he had never been born. The science guys say his venom is the most painful in the world. But let’s face it, his real value is as a deterrent. He’s scary as hell and if a crook knows Fred is on duty then the crook won’t come anywhere near the yard. I sure as hell wouldn’t.”
The Gila monster is a protected species in its native habitat of the southwestern USA and Mexico and is the official state reptile of Utah. A typical adult specimen is up to 60 cm long and weighs over 2 kg. It is the only venomous lizard native to the USA. An interesting side note is that a component of their venom, exenetide, is used to treat type 2 diabetes. A large dose would reduce your blood glucose level (and heart rate) to zero.
According to Bendovus Chief of Security Hal I. Toasis, if the experiment in Calgary is successful, the company will look to expand the guard lizard program to all of Bendovus’s facilities. This will require dozens of Gila monsters. However, a test breeding program for the animals operated by Bendovus has run into an unexpected snag. Many of the males are unable to perform in captivity. The veterinarians believe this is due to reptile dysfunction.