Size: Up to 10 ft. (3 m) in length; weight 220 to 300 lbs.
Characteristics: Reclusive, shy.
Offspring: 15 to 30 eggs.
Predators: Full-grown Komodo dragons have no predators other than larger Komodo dragons.
· The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest known living lizard.
· It is also known as the Komodo Island monitor, and is called the ora by residents of Komodo.
· Scientists confirmed the existence of these lizards in 1912.
· The Komodo drag is the number one predator on the islands it inhabits.
· Male Komodo dragons outnumber the females by more than four to one.
· In the mid-1900s, the Dutch in Indonesia recognized the Komodo as a valuable ecological predator and set up laws protecting it.
Komodo dragons are meat-eaters, and will first scavenge carrion before killing for food. They’re skilled hunters, eating anything from rats to wild pigs to deer. They’re also known to eat other Komodos, especially juveniles, and have killed and eaten humans. They can eat up to 80 percent of their body weight at one sitting. Komodo dragons are able to run at speeds of up to 20 kilometres per hour, but tire quickly. They prefer instead to stalk and sneak up on a victim, lunging at it with amazing speed. They grab the prey in their strong jaws, sinking their serrated teeth into it. Komodos have a large amount of bacteria in their saliva, which helps to kill the victim as it enters the blood through the bite wounds. Prey that escapes the grip of the Komodo dragon usually dies later anyway, from the bacteria in their blood. The Komodo dragon has a powerful tail that can knock over a victim, and is also used to propel him through the water while swimming. The Komodo’s forked tongue frequently darts in and out, testing for scents. Their sense of smell can locate food up to twelve kilometres away. At a successful kill, other Komodos will join in for the feast, with the largest Komodos getting first choice. Very little is left behind afterwards.
Komodo dragons live in semi-arid regions on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rintja, Padar and Flores. They’re a popular tourist attraction, annually drawing up to 18,000 visitors to the area.
Mating season occurs between June and July. In September, the female lays 15 to 30 oval, white-coloured eggs, usually in a composting vegetable mound and then covers them with earth. She leaves the eggs to incubate, relying on the warmth of the sun. The eggs hatch the following May. The youngsters are eight to eighteen inches long and are very susceptible to being preyed on by snakes, birds and even other Komodo dragons. They live in trees for the first few months of their lives, until they reach a length of three feet or so. They don’t begin to reproduce until the age of five to seven when they reach six feet in length. Full size is reached at approximately fifteen years. Komodos have estimated lifespans of 50 to 100 years.