Gila Monster Neonate Care

Hatchling Gila monster
With the basics of proper care, neonate Gilas thrive in captivity.

Hatchling Gilas should be kept in individual housing. This facilitates feeding and makes maintenance easier. Water should be provided at all times. It is easier for a hatchling to dehydrate than for an adult due to a hatchling’s greater surface to volume ratio.

Unlike some other hatchling reptiles, Gila hatchlings always eat commonly available food items (baby domestic mice or rats). I have never had a hatchling Gila that did not eat. That being said, some may not accept what is offered to them for their first meal or two. When they first exit the egg, they have an abdomen distended with yolk. In essence, they have already had their first meal in the remaining yolk and it may be a while before they are ready to eat. Some will eat within a few days of leaving the egg, but most will wait for a week or two.

A live pinky mouse offered a week or two after hatching usually readily accepted. Many will take a frozen-thawed pinky without hesitation. Sometimes it helps to just leave the food in the cage overnight. For those that don’t eat voluntarily the first time, there are several techniques to try. The easiest way to get a reluctant hatchling Gila to eat is dip the snout of a pink mouse in egg before offering it. Instead of using whole raw egg, use pasteurized egg whites available at most grocery stores. This will eliminate any chance of transmitting Salmonella.

I feed hatchlings once or twice a week, increasing the size and/or number of food items as the Gila grows. Gilas make undemanding captives and will grow rapidly when provided with adequate food and appropriate temperatures.

Provide water at all times. It is also helpful to soak neonates once per week to ensure that they remain well hydrated.