The world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is endemic to a few Indonesian islands, including the island of Komodo, hence their name. They can reach up to 3 metres in length and weigh over 100kg. The Komodo dragon is a formidable predator since no other carnivore occupies the same ecological niche. Their varied diet and lack of competition has allowed them to grow to sizes beyond that of any other lizard alive today.
Ambush predators, Komodo dragons will meticulously hunt their prey. From small invertebrates to large water buffalo, these stealthy predators will eat almost anything, including other Komodo dragons. Like fictional dragons, they use fire to take down their prey. They don’t actually, but they do use a venomous bite. This venom contains proteins that prevent blood clotting and cause huge blood loss. This, along with shock, is thought to be what ultimately kills their prey. The attacker may end up stalking their prey for days before they eventually succumb to their injuries, using their keen sense of smell to follow their target. However, there have been many disputes around the Komodo dragon’s ‘venom’ and whether they are even venomous at all.
The Komodo dragon is capable of eating up to 80% of its body weight in a single sitting! They will then find a sunny spot to rest – the higher temperature helps to speed up their rate of digestion. The dragon’s slow metabolism means that they only need a meal once a month. The Komodo dragon population is low – their numbers stand at around 3,000 individuals. Being an island-dwelling species, this lizard is especially vulnerable to changes in their environment.
This is my last blog post of 2019. Coincidentally, my first post of 2020 will also be my 100th post. To celebrate this milestone, I will be sharing my top 10 animals. This should go up on Sunday the 5th of January. Thank you for reading!
Hennessy, K., Wiggins, V. (2014) Animal Encyclopedia: The Definitive Visual Guide. 2nd edn. London. Dorling Kindersley.