About Komodo Dragons
Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world. They can reach up to 10 feet in length and can weigh 150-300 pounds. Adult Komodos are mostly black, green or gray with patches of yellow-brown or white. They have a large, powerful tail which they will use for defense. The yellow color of their long, forked tongue and their deadly bacteria reminds people of mythical dragons that spit fire. Males and females look similar, other than a noticeable size difference with males being larger.
Komodo dragons do not chase their prey. They use their sense of smell, hearing and sight to detect an animal nearby. Like most reptiles, Komodos have an excellent sense of smell. They can use their long tongues and the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of their mouths to detect rotting carrion from almost 7 miles away. Once they know an animal is nearby, they wait in tall vegetation until the right moment, and then they lunge at the intended prey. Sometimes the prey is killed by the dragon, but usually it escapes with just a bite. An animal that has been bitten by a Komodo will not survive long. It could take hours or as long as a week or two for the animal to die. The saliva of Komodos contains about 50 types of bacteria, at least 7 of which cause severe blood poisoning. The bacteria builds up in the mouth of the Komodo dragon because food gets stuck in the serrations of their teeth.
Komodo Dragons in the Wild
These lizards inhabit seasonally arid grasslands, savannas and monsoon forests, usually in the lowlands. Their habitat is very harsh with steep slopes and little available water most of the year.
Komodo dragons are native to four southeastern islands of Indonesia: Flores, Gili Motang, Komodo and Rinca. As of the 1970's, they have also been found on the island of Padar.
In the wild, the primary prey for adult dragons is the sunda deer. They also feed on birds, snakes, fish, crabs, snails, small mammals, pigs, water buffalo, eggs, wild horses and younger Komodos. They can eat prey that is up to 5 times their own size such as a water buffalo that weighs about 2,000 pounds. They are also scavengers and will eat carrion.
According to IUCN's Red List the Komodo dragon population status is “vulnerable.” The major threat to the Komodos is habitat loss. This is due to the expansion of human populations and the hunting of the Komodos’ prey, as well as major natural disasters such as fires and volcanic eruptions.
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