There are many scary animals living on this planet. Great White Sharks, Shoebills, Hippos, Bears, Lions and Tigers, just as an example. But there is one that’s almost mythical – Komodo Dragons. These scary-looking reptilian predators are incredibly horrifying and dangerous. Most people don’t even know to what extent that is true. And so, without further ado, here’s the truth about Komodo dragons.
What Are Komodo Dragons?
Komodo dragons are the biggest lizards on the planet, living today. They are ferocious carnivore predators who hunt, kill and eat many different species of animals.
How big are they?
Komodo dragons are huge reptiles. Adult males can reach up to 3 meters or 10 feet in length and weigh up to 90 kilograms or 200 pounds. Adult females can reach lengths of about 2.3 meters or 7.5 feet and weigh up to 160 pounds.
How do they look?
Komodo dragons have long tales, skin made out of reptilian scales, long tongues, serrated teeth that can measure up to 2.5 cm or 1 inch in length. The skin color of young Komodo dragons range from yellow to green brown or grey. Adults tend to be green and grey to black.
Where do they live?
Komodo dragons currently live in the wilderness of 4 islands of Indonesia: Komodo, Flores, Rinca and Gili Motang. These huge lizards originate from Australia. Komodo dragons have actually existed for at least 4 million years. Fossils found in Eastern Australia date back to 300,000 to 4 million years of age. They migrated to the island of Flores around 900,000 years ago. While these species have existed for such a long time, their existence has only been confirmed about a century ago, when a plane landed in the island of Komodo. And that’s where Komodo dragons get their name.
What do these huge reptiles eat?
Komodo dragons are carnivorous apex predators who only eat meat. In fact, they are such fierce predators, that they can hunt prey that are way bigger than them like water buffaloes, pigs, wild boar and deer. Also smaller ones like snakes, various fish and carrion. They are even known to attack and kill humans.
They can actually eat about 80 percent of their body weight in one feasting. And, it gets better. Adult Komodo dragons are cannibals who often eat other smaller Komodo dragons. In fact, about 10 percent of an average adult Komodo dragon’s diet is made up of newly hatched Komodo dragons.
A Few “Fun” Facts About Komodo Dragons
- They’re venomous. For long time it was thought that Komodo dragons saliva and teeth contain many bacteria that kills their prey, but it turns out that Komodo dragons are some of few lizards that have deadly venom which enters the bodies of their victims, decreasing their blood pressure, expediting blood loss and paralizing the nervous systems. They also have about 50 different types of bacteria in their saliva, which can also be very detrimental.
- Komodo dragons have a poor sight in the night and they mostly hunt during daytime. they also have a very poor sense of hearing.
- They are ambush predators who often stand still when their prey is approaching them and then they jump out, tun and bite it.
- They can reach speeds of 20 kilometres or 12 miles per hour for short distances.
- Komodo dragons have bony deposits in their skin (known as osteoderms) that take many different shapes. This is very unusual. They’re also not born with them, but they develop more and more of them as they age. Just like we judge the age of trees by their rings, we can judge the age of Komodo dragons by their osteoderms. The only true reason for having such “armor” is to defend against other Komodo dragons, as no other native predators pose great threats to them.
- While most reptiles lack aerobic capacity, researchers have found out (by mapping their genome) that Komodo dragons, thanks to certain genetic adaptations, are much more like mammals when it comes to their endurance. Their metabolisms are just more similar to those of mammals rather than other reptiles like Crocodiles.
- These terrifying reptiles often consume carrion. in fact, they can smell rotting carrion from almost 10 kilometres or 6 miles away.
- Female Komodo dragons can reproduce asexually when no males are around. They can fertilize their own eggs through a process called parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis only occurs in about 70 species on the planet, and Komodo dragons are one of them.
- Komodo dragons can live up to 30 years in the wild, but only a few years in captivity.
- Besides all of that aggressive hunting, cannibalism and so on, they are surprisingly playful. Researchers took a look at captive Komodo dragons and found that they like to play with various toys and even some friendly humans. And that would be a light-hearted touch on the truth about Komodo dragons.
Komodo dragons are the biggest lizards on Earth. They are also one of very few lizards species that are venomous. They are also very fast, sneaky, strong and “armored”. Trully horrifying apex predators that hunt and kill pretty much anything they come across. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and learned something new about the truth about Komodo dragons.