Being an exotic animal keeper takes a lot of patience, care, and depending on the species, caution. While some venomous exotic pets such as Old World tarantulas and certain species of scorpions are legal to own in Colorado, there are many animals with medically significant venom that are not permitted to be kept as pets.

Read More: It's Illegal to Own More Than 12 of These Animals in Colorado |

Tragically, one exotic pet owner who was keeping multiple venomous reptiles was bitten by one of them and has since succumbed to his injuries.

Colorado Man Dies From Gila Monster Bite

The man, identified as 34-year-old Christopher Ward of Lakewood, was bitten by one of his two Gila Monster specimens on February 12, 2024.

Despite being negatively affected by the reptile's bite, Ward did not contact emergency services for close to two hours after being bitten. When first responders did arrive, Ward was responsive but obviously suffering and was immediately transported to the hospital.

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Unfortunately, the Gila Monster's venom caused Ward to suffer from anaphylaxis, respiratory failure, and renal failure, and succumbed to the animal's venom after three days.

What Does Colorado Law Say About Owning Gila Monsters?

In case you're not familiar, the Gila Monster is a scaly, slow-moving reptile native to the American southwest as well as northern Mexico. Known for their potent venom, Gila Monsters are illegal to possess in the state of Colorado with an exception for zoologic purposes.

Ward's two Gila Monster specimens were picked up from his residence by animal control and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and transported to an undisclosed wildlife rehabilitation facility.

[Fox 31]

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