- Genus/species: Varanus komodoensis
- Conservation Status: Endangered
- Location: Indonesian Islands
The Largest Living Lizard
Komodo dragons are found in tropical savanna forests, but range widely over the Indonesian islands, from beach to ridge tops. They escape the heat of the day and sleep at night in burrows. The Komodo dragon is an ancient species of reptile with ancestors that date back more than 100 million years. It has bowed legs, clay-colored, scaly skin, and a huge, muscular tail. Its yellow forked tongue reminds people of a dragon spitting fire - hence its name!
The Komodo dragon is the largest living lizard. It can be up to 10 feet in length and generally weighs as much as a normal sized adult - about 150 pounds. Komodo Dragons are carnivores, or meat eaters. They use their long tongues to pick up smells in the air, even if they’re a mile away. They are not fussy and their diet includes wild pigs, deer, wild buffalo, snakes and fish that wash up on the shore. They also eat dead animals. This meat-eating lizard can consume up to 80 percent of its body weight during one meal. The muscles of the Komodo's jaws and throat allow it to swallow huge chunks of meat with astonishing rapidity. The Komodo Dragon is a solitary creature that lives and hunts alone.
Humans are taking over more and more of the Komodo dragon’s home territory and they hunt the same food that the dragons need to survive. These lizards play an important role in saving the environment, because they eat dead animals. By doing so, they help to keep the surroundings free of rotting carcasses. The Komodo National Park, established in 1980, has helped to protect Komodo dragons.
Did You Know?
- A Komodo dragon has about 60 short, sharp teeth. It will go through four or five sets of teeth in a lifetime.
- Komodo dragons can throw up the contents of their stomachs when chased to reduce their weight so that they can flee faster.
- These lizards cannot run and breathe at the same time. That's why these Komodo dragons have an interesting pouch which is present under their chin. It is filled with air and becomes useful in breathing while chasing down a prey.
- The Komodo dragon’s saliva which is reddish in color is known to be deadly as it carries around 50 infectious agents,