Colorado Man Dies After Venomous Reptile Bite

Being an exotic animal keeper requires a great deal of patience, care, and, depending on the species, prudence. While some poisonous exotic pets, such as Old World tarantulas and certain scorpion species, are acceptable to own in Colorado, many creatures with medically relevant venom cannot be maintained as pets.

Tragically, one exotic pet owner who kept many dangerous reptiles was bitten by one of them and died from his injuries.

A Colorado man died after being bitten by a Gila monster

Colorado Man Dies After Venomous Reptile Bite

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

Despite being adversely affected by the reptile’s bite, Ward did not seek emergency personnel for nearly two hours after being bitten. When first responders arrived, Ward was responsive but clearly in pain, and he was promptly taken to the hospital.

Unfortunately, the Gila Monster’s venom led Ward to suffer from allergy, respiratory failure, and renal failure, and he died three days later.

What does Colorado law say about owning Gila Monsters?

The Gila Monster is a scaly, slow-moving lizard native to the American Southwest and northern Mexico. Gila Monsters, known for their deadly venom, are banned in Colorado, with the exception of zoological purposes.

Ward’s two Gila Monster specimens were collected from his home by animal control and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and taken to an unidentified wildlife rehabilitation center.

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