Komodo dragon is the largest of the lizard species, growing as long as ten feet in length and three hundred fifty (350) pounds in weight. Also known as Monitor lizard, this intimidating reptile has a forty million (40,000,000) years old history of evolutionary development beginning from Asia. Today, the islands of Indonesia are the only natural habitat of this large and heavy lizard.
This animal does not only look frightening, but is also dangerous due to its poisonous saliva. Its victim can die within twenty-four hours of the exposure to this venomous solution. This lizard is also blessed with powerful muscles in the jaws which help it swallow huge meaty victims astonishingly fast. Therefore, it is one of the most threatening predators lurking on the Indonesian Islands.
Komodo Dragon Facts
Here are some intriguing facts about this Indonesian beast.
- Monitor lizard is the largest of all lizards crawling around different parts of the planet earth. The largest of these creatures was recorded to have a length of 10.3 feet and a weight equal to 366 pounds.
- These wild lizards can live up to thirty years on average. However, some of them have been known to live for as long as fifty years.
- They can run at the surprisingly fast speed of 12 mph (20 km/h) and even more when they go for hunting.
- Monitor lizards are mostly scavengers and hunt only when necessary.
- Their saliva consists of fifty bacterial strains which can cause a victim to suffer from physical shock and excessive blood clotting.
- A monitor lizard bitten by another member of its species will suffer no effect from the poisonous saliva.
- A slight difference in the pattern of their scales right in front of the cloacae is the only distinction between a male and a female lizard.
- There are around four more females for every male member in the wild.
- The mating season comes in the months of May to August while the eggs are laid in September every year.
- A female lays around thirty eggs once a year. Upon hatching, a young monitor lizard weighs hardly 3.5 ounces with 16 inches of average length.
- Parthenogenesis has also been observed in these creatures, i.e. they can reproduce without mating.
- The adult lizards might feed on the smaller baby lizards. For this reasons, they spend the first four years living on trees.
- They have very powerful sense organs which are found at the base of their mouth. These organs collect chemical information from the surroundings, letting the lizards locate prey, particularly dead organisms.
- They are more active during the day. However, occasionally they do hunt for food at night as well.
- They may hunt in groups in case of larger preys, such as a water buffalo, and share the meat together.
- The locals of Indonesia call these giant lizards “ora” which means "crocodiles of the land".
- The first monitor lizard was born, under supervision, outside the Indonesian islands in 1992 in a zoo. Today, around three hundred zoos around the globe have this huge reptile in captivity for the fascination of children and adults alike.
- There are only four thousand to five thousand surviving members of the species living in the wild.
- They do not have any predator and the only threat to their existence is that of natural disasters and the gradually dwindling size of their population.
- They can also swim very skillfully, but only when necessary. They usually swim to another island when looking for a prey or a receptive female lizard in the breeding season.
Komodo Dragon Diet
Komodo dragon is a carnivore and a tertiary predator, that is, a predator lying at the end of a food chain. These lizards feed on any type of meat, be it an old, decaying carcass or a live victim. Their young ones feed on smaller organisms including insects and gecko lizards. On the other hand, the mature lizards eat a wide variety of animals ranging from small rodents to large boars, water buffaloes and deers.
Their prey-catching skills are not quite well-developed. Mostly, their lucky victims get a chance to escape. However, once exposed to their poisonous saliva, a prey dies even after managing to run away. They, then, locate the dead organism with the help of their powerful smelling sense.
These carnivorous reptilian species are even more terrifying meat eaters than larger predators like lions. The latter consume around seventy percent of their prey, leaving undesirable parts like intestines, hooves, hide and skeleton. However, these savage lizards eat each and every morsel, only leaving around twelve-percent unconsumed.
Komodo Dragon Habitat
The terrifying reptile was first discovered by accident in 1910 on the Komodo island of Indonesia. These lizards had never been seen before due to the fact that their habitat is limited to a few remote islands.
They first originated in Asia about 40 million years back. Gradually, they were spread to Australia. However, about fifteen million years ago, a collision between South East Asia and the continent of Australia caused these lizards to move to the region which is known as the Indonesian Archipelago in the present day world. Today, they exist on the islands of Komodo, Gili Motang, Flores, Rinca and Padar.
The lizards live in tropical savannah forests and are also commonly found on vast areas of the islands ranging from the beach to the top of ridges. The environment of their natural habitat is extremely hot, dry and harsh with an extreme scarcity of water. These reptiles also have to face volcanic eruptions from time to time. They can, nevertheless, survive without water for a long time and beat the heat by spending the sunny day hidden inside burrows. However, when the temperature is normal—around 80 degrees Fahrenheit—they enjoy the heat by basking in the sun on the open surface of the island.
Their small habitat with its harsh environment and vulnerability to natural disaster has put them in the category of endangered species. Even though their number has not been declining rapidly, their very existence is still under threat due to the limited area they occupy.