Aposematism: bright colors, loud noises, or other easily detectable features of an animal that act as a warning to predators about toxins, venoms, or other defenses. A bee's yellow and black colors are an example of aposematism......more
When you spot a Gila monster in the wild, they are usually already pretty near to you. Then, the first thing you probably notice is their orange and black coloration. When they were far away, those colors helped them blend into the desert background, making them difficult to see. This is especially true if they are under a bush or tree, with bits of light and shade. But up close, their colors act as a warning to predators, letting them know that they are venomous and can defend themselves.
Such bright and dark colors (especially in stripes or repeating patterns) sometimes serve as warning coloration, or aposematic coloration. Some researchers even think that juveniles have brighter colors and have colors in a more striped pattern, to act as a stronger warning to predators. And if the predators don’t listen, they may end up with a painful bite, whether from an adult or a baby Gila monster.
Additional images via Wikimedia Commons. Poison dart frog image by V2.
Karla Moeller. (2020, February 04). Gila Monster Coloration. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/gila-monster-colors
Karla Moeller. "Gila Monster Coloration". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 04 February, 2020. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/gila-monster-colors
Karla Moeller. "Gila Monster Coloration". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 04 Feb 2020. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 23 Nov 2020. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/gila-monster-colors