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.