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Komodo Dragon (Ora)

Will attack and eat humans

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Sauria

Family: Varanidae

Genus & Species: Varanus komodoensis


The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard alive today, being exceeded in length only by an extinct monitor species that used to live in Australia and the 50 ft mosasaurs of long ago. The males reach an average length of 10 ft (3 m), and an average weight of 220-300 lbs (97-133 kg). The largest Komodo dragon known to science was 10 ft 2.5 in long, although there have been reports by locals of dragons anywhere from 11-30 ft (3.3-9 m) in length. The females are slightly smaller than the males. Komodo dragons have a stout, flattened body with a thick tail that accounts for half of its length. The legs are short and squat and the feet end in long, powerful claws. The skin is very leathery and is a grey-brown in colour with red circles spotted here and there. The young are easily identifiable with vertical bands of green and black that circle around their neck and disappear with age. Komodo dragons have a life span of 20 years and can run up to speeds of 15 mph (37.5 km/h).


Komodo dragons are found on several small, mostly uninhabited Indonesian islands, including Komodo, Padar, Flores, Rintja, Gili Mota, and Owadi Sami. Komodo Island is the largest of these, and yet is only 20 mi x 20 mi (50 km x 30 km) in area. Komodo dragons are found mostly in the open savannas of the islands, but will sometimes stray into the rainforests. They are relatively strong swimmers and are said to be able to swim to other islands during fires. The young are also able to climb trees. During the night Komodo dragons sleep in caves or between tree roots, and will come out at 8:30 a.m. to feed. They are solitary animals, and only come together to mate or feed on carrion.


Komodo dragons are carnivores and will eat most anything. They prey mainly upon pigs, deer, goats, and monkeys, but have been known to attack and kill humans. They are gluttons, and will sometimes eat an entire deer at one time, after which they sleep for a week in order for it to digest. The young are fed insects, lizards, rodents, and ground-nesting birds. The a dults will also feed on carrion.

The teeth of a Komodo dragon's mouth are arranged in such a way that they enable the largest portion of flesh possible to be bitten off. The jaws are hinged like that of an egg-eating snake's to further aide with this. If prey is bitten but manages to escape, they will likely bleed to death. If that doesn't happen they will then succumb to one of the four species of bacteria that flourish in the dragon's saliva. There is no known antidote for these bacterium.


Komodo dragons are at the top of the food chain and therefore have no enemies as a dults. Feral dogs and pigs sometimes dig up and eat Komodo dragon eggs, and birds and even a dult dragons will eat the young. Man doesn't pose a great threat, as Komodo dragons bring in many tourists for Komodo village and therefore are not hunted. At one time the Dutch would come down and kill up to 600 a dults a year, until a law was passed allowing a quota of no more than 5. For a very short period they were also killed to be turned into handbags, but the skin would crack when dried. Today, there are approximately 3000 Komodo dragons left, which is a decent number considering the size of the islands.


Sexual maturity is reached at 6 years, and Komodo dragons mate during June or July. The female lays up to 12 four inch long eggs in a hole in the earth. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 8-10 months.


The island of Komodo was an uninhabited island for many years, until the sultan of nearby island Sumbawa started to deport criminal there. Rumors quickly began to fly about a 23 ft long land crocodile that was terribly ferocious. In 1910, the Governor of Flores looked into the matter and published the first scientific description of the "land crocodiles" in 1912. WWI then broke out, and the "new" lizard was forgotten until 1923, when a keen explorer brought back four skins of the lizard islanders called the ora.


The Komodo dragon is a monitor lizard and is related to the other monitor species, including the extinct Australian giant known as Megalania.


2. Komodo Dragon, Funk & Wagnalls Wildlife Encyclopedia, BPC Pub Ltd, USA, 1974, pg 1221, vol 10.
3. Komodo Dragon, Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, USA