The original specimen (deceased and frozen) was acquired in 1978 from a man who housed several Gilas within a single large enclosure. The donor speculated that the cause of death may have been the result of old age. However no pathological exam had been performed. The lizard was large, measuring 19″ inches from nose to tail.
In retrospect, I regret not having made an attempt to determine the Gila’s sex. Rather, my focus was set upon preserving it’s detail and form by making several quality plaster molds. My suspicion is that this particular Gila was a male based upon a “trend” that adult males typically have a stouter build and a broader head. Mature females tend to have a narrower head and a more pear-shaped body. This, however, this is not a fool-proof method of determining the sex of an adult Gila.
The original specimen being positioned for the mold making process.
For many years, my original plaster molds remained packed away in my garage. After retiring in 2002, I eventually resumed my interest in replicating the Gila as a “garden decor” in contrast to traditional taxidermy. Traditional taxidermy is, for the most part, an “indoor sport.” That is…the finished product is seldom intended to endure exposure to the outdoors. With reasonable precautions, these replicas are durable and resistant to the effects of weather.
From these old plaster molds new positives were produced. The original version (type 1) Gila replica (shown below) was cast with a strong USG alpha gypsum.The area beneath each foot is thickened to provide added strength to the feet and toes.
Securing model for mold making process.
The original (type 1) replica had thickened material beneath the feet for added strength. This original (type 1) replica has been discontinued and replaced by our latest (type 5) version (shown below).
Creating the illusion.
This type 2 Gila replica (discontinued) is shown to be resting on a flat stone. It is cast as a single piece using a strong alpha gypsum material . Each weighs approximately 9.5 lbs.
The latest version is the type 5 Gila replica. It is cast in a polyurethane resin and weighs approximately 1.75 lbs.