Variations: Ix-hunpedɔkin, Hunpedzkin, Hunpedɔkin; Mexican Beaded Lizard, Heloderma horridum
Mexican beaded lizards are large, sluggish, and colorful Central American lizards. They have a venomous bite, and popular Yucatec Maya folklore has exaggerated their toxic qualities.
The Mayan beaded lizard, or Ix-hunpedzkin, is 3 to 4 inches long, with black, rose, and ash-colored bands across their bodies and a pink underbelly. It strikes with both its mouth and its tail. In fact, its entire body is virulently toxic, and it can kill a grown man if it so much as touches his clothes. Even that is not the ix-hunpedzkin’s most infamous activity.
Ix-hunpedzkins frequently enter houses and come in contact with humans. They can cause severe, debilitating headaches merely by biting the shadow of one’s head. These headaches are lethal if not treated immediately.
To heal a hunpedzkin-headache, the plant hunpedzkin or hunpedzkin-ak (or ix-hunpedzkin or ix-hunpedzkin-ak, the names are shared) must be used. It is a climbing plant found in association with Sabal japa, and its long, narrow, and yellow leaves resemble those of the henequen, except it is smaller and has soft spines. It is probably a Tillandsia. The leaves should be crushed or burned to ashes, poulticed, and applied to the patient’s head.
Pacheco Cruz, S. (1919) Lexico de la Fauna Yucateca. Merida, Mexico.
Roys, R. L. (1931) The Ethno-Botany of the Maya. The Tulane University of Louisiana, New Orleans.