Komodo Dragons - Fierceness at Large

Komodo Dragons - Fierceness at Large

Lizard is Now the Largest Venomous Animal

Up until about 2009, it was believed that Komodo Dragons killed prey by transmitting bacteria in their bites. Now, researchers are convinced these ultra-large lizards also pack venom in glands. Regardless of the latest discoveries, these reptiles have always been deadly predators. Native to Indonesia, they're popular zoo attractions as well. While they may appear sluggish on exhibit, when tempted by a meal, they can move rapidly for short distances.

Not Your Average Fire-Breathing Dragon

In the earliest days, explorers visiting Komodo and nearby islands probably exaggerated size and capabilities. Komodo dragons do have yellow tongues, so perhaps that body feature, along with their size, was good reason to build on the legend. Finally, in 1910, a lizard was captured, which led to the demise of this particular fable.

The Komodo Facts

Reaching a length of 10 feet, adults rule their territory. They can take down a large deer and have been known to victimize humans. At one meal, a Komodo can ultimately consume 80 percent of its body weight. That could technically translate into 640 quarter-pounders. In their native habitat, the young are in danger up until about the age of five. They not only must survive predation from birds and snakes, larger Komodos will also cannibalize younger dragons. Finally, they become large enough to put up a fight.

They've perfected the art of a bite, too. Komodos grab on with serrated teeth and work the wound, allowing plenty of time to disperse venom while tearing through skin and muscle. It's a nasty event and even if prey escapes, it will succumb to death shortly. Other dragons also lie in wait; the smell of death brings them in for a group fight.

They're big, mean, and scaly. What more could you want?

Public domain photo from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, courtesy GambitMG