50 Facts About Komodo Dragons


Built like a mini dragon crossed with a dinky-dinosaur, this 10-foot long formidable giant lizard is bizarre to say the least! And although this hardy little dragon lacks the fiery breath of an actual dragon, it compensates by having a deadly, venomous bite. Keep on reading to learn 50 facts about the fearsome Komodo Dragon.

Fact 1: Komodo Dragons are able to reproduce both sexually and asexually. 

  • Female Komodo dragons can fertilize their eggs with males, but in the absence of males, they can reproduce without having sex through a process called “parthenogenesis.”

Fact 2: The Komodo Dragon’s large size is caused by a strange phenomenon known as “island gigantism.” 

  • Animals that live in an isolated setting can become dramatically larger than their relatives, an evolutionary trend related to the absence of larger predators to hunt them.

Fact 3: Despite their bulky appearance, Komodo Dragons are actually fast runners. 

  • Komodo dragons can run at an incredible speed of up to 13 mph, for short bursts of time. 

Fact 4: Komodo Dragons can eat some pretty beefy animals, including carrion, water buffalo, oh and humans!  

  • Instead of relying on speed, Komodo dragons wait stealthily for their prey, instead of trying to run and catch them up. Humans make excellent prey as they can only run at speeds of 8 mph.  

Fact 5: Komodo Dragons smell with their tongues, not their nostrils, and can detect carrion up to 6 miles away.

  • Their forked tongues sense the air around them. Once they pick up a smell they press their tongue to the roof of their mouth and work out what the smell is and if it’s worth hunting down.  

Fact 6: Komodo Dragons also have surprisingly good vision, and can see objects as far away as 985 feet.

  • But their retinas only have cones, so they may be able to distinguish color but have poor vision in dim light. 

Fact 7: Contrary to popular belief, Komodo Dragons kill their prey with venom, not bacteria.

  • Researchers have recently found out that Komodo Dragons inject their victims with venom from multiple ducts located between their teeth. 

Fact 8: Komodo Dragons can eat whole animals — even those as big as a goat.

  • Komodo Dragons generally eat by tearing off chunks of flesh from the victim, but they can also swallow animals whole using their loosely articulated jaws, their flexible skulls, and their expandable stomach. 

Fact 9: Due to their slow metabolism, Komodos can survive on as little as 12 meals per year.

  • It takes the Komodo Dragon roughly 15 to 20 minutes to swallow large prey, and the giant lizard must bask in the sun to speed up digestion.  

Fact 10: Komodo Dragon babies run away immediately after hatching so their mothers can’t eat them.

  • Although female Komodos incubate their eggs for about 3 months, and keep their eggs safe from predators, their maternal instincts melt away once their babies hatch. 

Fact 11: Komodo Dragons were once called “Oras”.

  • Komodo Island natives, gave the large lizards the name “ora,” which means “land crocodile,” until they were given the formal recognized name ‘Komodo Dragon’, in 1912.  

Fact 12: Komodos are excellent swimmers.

  • Travelling between Indonesian islands is often a necessity for hungry Komodo Dragons looking for food.

Fact 13: George H.W. Bush once received a live Komodo Dragon as a gift.

  • Halfway through his term, Bush was given a male Komodo Dragon named “Naga”, courtesy of Indonesia’s government. 

Fact 14: Instead of keeping it, President Bush handed over his Komodo Dragon, Naga, to the Cincinnati Zoo. 

  • After fathering 32 youngsters, the illustrious critter passed away in 2007 at the respectable age of 24.

Fact 15: Komodos Dragons can consume up to 80% of their body weight in 1 sitting.

  • Having freakishly-flexible jaws really helps these creatures gorge, allowing the Komodo Dragons to swallow smallish animals (like mid-sized piglets) whole.

Fact 16: In the last 41 Years, Komodo Dragons have killed at least 4 people.

  • The most recent attack involved a man who fell from an apple tree, and was mauled by 2 dragons while lying dazed on the ground.

Fact 17: In 2008, a group of Scuba divers found themselves shipwrecked on Rinca island, surrounded by 1,3000 Komodo Dragons.  

  • For 2 days and 2 nights, the traumatized divers contended with dragons and the tropical heat, surviving off of shellfish that they scraped from rocks and ate raw. 

Fact 18: Komodo Dragons are known to be grave robbers. 

  • As a general rule, Komodo Dragons prefer raiding graves to killing people, so natives frequently pile rocks over their loved ones’ tombs as a deterrent.

Fact 19: Smaller Komodo Dragons roll around in poo to avoid getting cannibalized by larger Komodos.

  • When close encounters are imminent, juveniles make themselves as unappetizing as possible by rolling in dung, something even the most ravenous dragons can’t stomach.

Fact 20: Komodo Dragons are capable of displaying ‘play’ behaviour.   

  • After being given toys including frisbees, blankets and beverage cans, Kraken, a resident Komodo Dragon of the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. took a lively interest in all of them, leading some scientists to conclude that, if she were a mammal, we’d call her behaviour “playful.”

Fact 21: Komodo Dragons were originally from Australia. 

  • According to fossil records, Komodo Dragons moved out of Australia and made their way to the Indonesian islands, arriving on the island of Flores around 900,000 years ago. 

Fact 22: Komodo Dragons disappeared from Australia around 50,000 years ago, coinciding with the arrival of humans on the continent. 

  • The giant lizards have also disappeared from all but a few isolated islands, and the species is now considered vulnerable to extinction.

Fact 23: Komodo Dragons were the inspiration for the film ‘King Kong’. 

  • The Komodo Dragon was the driving factor for an expedition to Komodo Island by W. Douglas Burden in 1926, and provided the inspiration for the 1933 movie ‘King Kong’.

Fact 24: The largest verified Komodo Dragon specimen reached a length of 10.3 feet, and weighed 366 pounds.

  • The Komodo Dragon had a long flat head with a rounded snout, huge muscular tail, bowed legs, and scaly skin. 

Fact 25: Adults and juvenile Komodos are distinguishable by their colors. 

  • Adult dragons have gray, brown or reddish color skin, the young ones on the other hand, have green bodies covered with black and yellow stripes. 

Fact 26: Komodo Dragons usually hunt during the day because they don’t see well during the night. 

  • Komodo Dragons have a poor sense of hearing.  

Fact 27: Komodo Dragons have reddish saliva that contains 50 different types of bacteria. 

  • The saliva of the Komodo Dragon is highly venomous and a single bite is enough to down a buffalo in less than 12 hours.

Fact 28: During mating season, female Komodo Dragons lay 15-30 eggs in a hole in the ground. 

  • Their eggs look like balloons filled with water, and the baby lizards use their “egg tooth” to crack the shell from inside.  

Fact 29: Up to 5,965 Komodo Dragons can be found in Komodo National Park, which covers 3 major islands, namely Komodo, Rinca and Padar. 

  • Komodo Island has at least 2,918 dragons, while the rest are scattered across Rinca Island (2,875), Gili Motang Island ( 92 ), Nusa Kuda Island ( 75 ) and Padar Island (5).

Fact 30: East Nusa Tenggara has the last population of large lizards. 

  • The Komodo National Park is also a popular destination for scientists and naturalists who want to study the animal’s evolution, as Komodo Dragons only exist in Indonesia.

Fact 31: Komodo Dragons live a solitary life, preferring to hunt alone. 

  • They are natural predators, and they stalk and ambush their prey, which includes birds, invertebrates and mammals.

Fact 32: Komodo Dragons usually mate between June and July, when females have reached the age of 8 and males are 7.

  • In September, females can lay up to 15-30 eggs after taking over nests made by brush turkeys and deepening the holes by 2 meters.  

Fact 33: To reduce the risk of predators such as snakes or boars preying on their eggs, female Komodo Dragons dig several additional holes near their real nest as decoys.

  • These holes are so similar that even the mother Komodo can get confused in recognizing the real one.

Fact 34: Komodo Dragons have been around for a very long time, in fact, fossils similar to Komodo Dragons have been dated to be 3.8 million years old.

  • Though only discovered by Europeans in 1910, Komodos are considered a relict of giant lizards that have existed in Flores for at least 900,000 years.

Fact 35: The Komodo National Park is located just below the equator, and is also in the heart of Indonesia.

  • Komodo and Rinca have dry savannah-like climates, the perfect environment for the giant lizards.  

Fact 36: The Komodo Dragon’s tail is as long as its body.

  • Komodo Dragons swing their tail back and forth as a scare tactic, and not only is their tail as long as the rest of their body, but their tails are strong enough to take down a deer! 

Fact 37: The Komodo Dragon is a vulnerable species.

  • The lack of egg-laying females, habitat destruction and human poaching continue to threaten the existing species’ population.

Fact 38: The Komodo Dragon – Varanus komodoensis, is a lizard species found on the islands in central Indonesia.

  • The giant lizards are a representative of a relict population of very large varanid lizards that once lived across Indonesia and Australia, most of which died out after the Pleistocene.

Fact 39: The Komodo Dragon prefers hot and dry places, typically living in dry open grassland, savanna, scrubland and tropical forests at low elevations. 

  • Komodo Dragons dig holes that can measure from 1-3 metres wide using their powerful forelimbs and claws.

Fact 40: Komodo Dragons mature in about 3-5 years and are capable of parthenogenesis.

  • Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction in which an unfertilized egg develops into a new individual, occurring commonly among insects and certain other arthropods.

Fact 41: The life span of the Komodo Dragon is over 30 years.

  • Komodo Dragons are capable of being monogamous, and form pair bonds which is a rare behaviour for lizards.

Fact 42: Komodo Dragons hatched for the first time outside of Indonesia in 1992 at the Smithsonian Zoo. 

  • The zoo reported that 4 clutches had hatched and 55 offspring were currently living in more than 30 zoos around the world. 

Fact 43: Komodo Dragons were first documented by Europeans in 1910. 

  • This was after rumors of a “land crocodile” reached Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek, of the Dutch colonial administration.

Fact 44: Europe’s first 2 live Komodo Dragons arrived in 1927. 

  • The giant lizards were exhibited in the Reptile House at London Zoo, when it opened in the same year.

Fact 45: On December 20, 2006, Flora, a captive Komodo Dragon living in Chester Zoo in England, was the second known Komodo Dragon to have laid unfertilized eggs.

  • Flora laid 11 eggs, and 7 of them hatched, all of them were male.

Fact 46: The first documentation of Komodo Dragon parthenogenesis in the U.S occurred on January 31, 2008. 

  • Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, became the very first zoo in America to document the asexual pregnancy.

Fact 47: A Komodo Dragon was exhibited in 1934 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., but it lived for only 2 years. 

  • This was the first time a Komodo Dragon was put on display for the public audience in the U.S.

Fact 48: In June 2001, a Komodo Dragon seriously injured Phil Bronstein, the then-husband of actress Sharon Stone.

  • This came after Bronstein entered the Komodo Dragon’s enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Fact 49: In 1969, an expedition to Komodo Island was led by the Auffenberg family, which lasted for 11 months. 

  • During their stay, Walter Auffenberg and his assistant Putra Sastrawan captured and tagged more than 50 Komodo Dragons.

Fact 50: The evolutionary development of the Komodo Dragon started with the genus Varanus, which originated in Asia about 40 million years ago.

  • Varanid lizards migrated to Australia, where they evolved into giant forms (the largest of all being the recently extinct Megalania), helped by the absence of competing placental carnivorans. 

References:

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