The Komodo dragon is one of those interesting creatures that you want to know more about. Did you know he can run up to 20km/h? These are the other cool things about him.
- Big, bigger, biggest
The Komodo dragon will definitely not win any beauty contests, if ever there was one for animals, but he will outdo all the lizards when it comes to size. He is the largest of all the lizards and can weigh up to 91kg! The males can reach 3m in length and the females 1.8m.
He might look like a dinosaur, but the Komodo dragon evolved into his current form about four million years ago, while the real dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. Comparing the Komodo dragon to the other lizard species, it’s easy to see how they are related, especially if you look at the long, forked tongue, eyes and flat head.
Being at the top of the food chain, you might wonder why the Komodo dragon has armoured scales. His entire body, except for his eyes, nostrils and mouth, is covered in scales. Each scale contains small bones, called osteoderms. The Komodo dragon isn’t born with this armour, only developing it when he reaches adulthood, at around three or four years old. He mainly uses the armour to protect himself against other Komodo dragons.
4. Special home
These dragons are rare – you can only find them on five islands: Island of Flores, Lesser Sunda Islands of Komodo, Gili Dasami, Gili Montang and Rinca. These islands are part of the Komodo National Park in Indonesia, which was founded in 1980 to protect these dragons, among other animals. Komodos can be found all over the islands, from the forests to the savanna.
Not only does the Komodo dragon greedily eat his food, but he can also easily devour 80% of his own body mass in one sitting. And he’s not a picky eater. This dragon will eat anything, even if it’s not fresh – from wild boar to water buffalo and anything in between. He bites off pieces and swallows them whole, and eats it all, including the fur, bones and hooves.
6. Toxic spit
For many years, it was believed that the Komodo dragon’s victims die from highly septic bacteria in his saliva, but this myth was busted a couple of years ago. Researchers found that the Komodo dragon has two glands in his lower jaw that contain toxins that kill his victims.
Although the Komodo dragon is a scavenger, eating old carcasses, he also kills prey by lying in ambush. When the victim passes the dragon, he will charge and kill the prey with a bite to the throat or underside of the animal. This dragon’s smell is well developed, and he can smell a carcass as far as 9.5km away.
8. Fake nest
The Komodo dragon protects her young even before they’ve hatched, by building fake nests to distract predators from the actual nest. The Komodo mother prefers the mount nests built by orange-footed scrubfowl, but will also use hillside and ground nests to lay her eggs. It is quite common for the mother to lay her eggs in more than one nest at a time.
9. Huge eggs
The Komodo dragon lays up to 30 eggs between August and September, and the eggs are generally the size of grapefruit. The eggs usually hatch about seven months later. The average hatchling weighs just over 100g and measures around 46cm.
10. Poo disguise
The life of a hatchling is not easy! From the moment they are born and escape the nest, they have to stay out of the adults’ way. Adult Komodo dragons see hatchlings as easy snacks and won’t think twice about eating them. Therefore, the hatchlings have some clever ways to hide – they either climb the nearest tree where they survive on bugs, beetles and lizards until they’re much bigger, or they roll in faeces so that the adults can’t smell them.