Komodo Dragons are the largest and heaviest lizards living on Earth. They are not only found on the island of Komodo, but also on the islands of Flores, Rinca and Gili Motang. However, they cannot be found outside of Indonesia. These impressive animals are capable, fierce and fast hunters.
Komodo Dragons are a species of Monitor Lizard, though they are much bigger than any of their cousins. An adult Komodo Dragon can be up to ten feet in length and weigh around 150 pounds. There have been reports of heavier specimens, but because these lizards can eat up to 80% of their body weight in one feeding, these weights may be attributed to undigested food.
At night, Komodo Dragons sleep in holes that are 3-10 feet wide. This is a way of regulating their body’s temperature because, like other lizards, Komodo Dragons must thermoregulate their body temperature in order to survive. They have also been known to ambush prey from these holes.
Komodo Dragons are carnivorous and adults will eat just about anything that moves and is large enough. They also eat any carrion that they come across, including dead humans. Larger prey is ripped apart by this giant lizard’s teeth and the pieces are swallowed without chewing. Smaller prey (like goats) are swallowed hole. Komodo Dragons have been observed forcing prey down their throats by slamming the protruding portion of their meal against a tree.
Komodo Dragons actively hunt and ambush their prey. Their bites are toxic, so if they succeed in biting an animal that later gets away, chances are it will die within days and become food for a Komodo Dragon anyway. This lizard’s poisonous bite has been attributed both to bacteria in the animal’s mouth as well as venom produced by glands in the animal’s head. Komodo Dragon’s seem to be impervious to each others venom/bacteria.
Mating happens between May and August. The females lay their eggs in September and they hatch in April. The eggs incubate for roughly eight months. The female stays with the nest until the eggs hatch. Male Komodo Dragons will fight with other males over potential mates. They will stand on their hind legs and wrestle until one of them gives up. Female Komodos can reproduce without a male, though parthenogenesis in Komodo Dragons only produces male offspring.
Juvenile Komodo Dragons are susceptible to being eaten by cannibalistic adults. They will spend most of their time up in trees and eat mostly insects at this time. As they grow, they will approach feeding sites and roll around in feces to deter the older Komodo Dragons.
When Komodo Dragons are hungry, they have been known to eat humans, though this is rare. They have also been known to dig up fresh corpses to dine on. They can run about as fast as an average human adult, so entering their territory unprepared is inadvisable.
Komodo Dragons, retrieved 6/17/09, nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/reptilesAmphibians/facts/factsheets/Komododragon.cfm
Komodo Dragons, retrieved 6/17/09, indyzoo.com/content.aspx?CID=1251
Komodo Dragons, retrieved 6/17/09, tolweb.org/treehouse/?treehouse_id=4457