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Facts About Komodo Dragons

Updated on November 20, 2014
Iammattdoran profile image

Matt is an avid traveller and self-confessed 'man of the world'. He is passionate about his home city, Manchester, and about travelling.

Dragons of Komodo

Picture of Komodo Dragon in the natural Komodo Dragon habitat on Rinca Island, Indonesia
Picture of Komodo Dragon in the natural Komodo Dragon habitat on Rinca Island, Indonesia | Source

Komodo Dragons Facts

Komodo Dragons are a huge species of lizard, essentially a bigger version of monitor lizards. They are occasionally referred to as Komodo Monitors or the Dragons of Komodo whilst the scientific latin name for Komodo Dragons is Varanus Komodoensis. A fully grown Komodo Dragon can grow up to 3 meters (10ft) in length, almost a meter longer than an adult Monitor Lizard. Although Komodo Dragons walk on all fours and are generally horizontal they are known to rear up on their hind legs, supporting themselves with their hard tail. It is believed that these kinds of images of Komodo Dragons standing on their hind legs inspired much of the science fiction adventure movies of the mid twentieth century that featured unknown giant species living on remote previously undiscovered islands. One of these movies inspired by the Dragons of Komodo was King Kong, first made in 1933.


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Where Komodo Dragons Live

Komodo Dragons are a gravely endangered species with the total global population estimated to be no more than 5000 but potentially as low as 3000. The entire population of Komodo Dragons is based in a relatively small area of Indonesia in the region called Flores. There are a total of 5 islands that have populations of Komodo Dragons, the most famous of which being Komodo Island.

Where Komodo Dragons Live

A markerkomodo -
Komodo, Komodo National Park, Indonesia
get directions

Komodo Dragons

Picture of Komodo Dragons in Rinca, Indonesia
Picture of Komodo Dragons in Rinca, Indonesia | Source

Book about Komodo Dragons

Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon: The Biggest, Deadliest Lizard Gives Up Its Secrets
Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon: The Biggest, Deadliest Lizard Gives Up Its Secrets

Cool book about Komodo Dragons with lot's of images and pictures of Komodo Dragons.

 

Why are Komodo Dragons Endangered

On Flores, the largest island that has wild Komodo Dragons, human encroachment and population growth has been the biggest threat to Komodo Dragon habitats here. On the islands of Rinca, Komodo, Padar and Gila Motang there is no human population and the entire area is protected under national park status as Komodo National Park.

However, the populations of egg-laying females has fallen so far that the population can only grow very slowly leaving it in a perilous position with there being such small numbers of Komodo Dragons around. If a natural disaster were to hit any of the Komodo habitats it could potentially cause the death of a whole species.

The issue of poaching, all too often a significant threat to sustaining the populations of endangered species is also a threat to the on-going future of Komodo Dragons. However, the national park protection has reduced this threat somewhat.

If the threat from humans isn't enough one of the biggest threats comes from the Komodo Dragons themselves. Adult Komodo Dragons have a canabalistic nature. It's believed that adults will only turn to eating the young if they are particularly starved but young Komodo Dragons will climb trees and live in trees in their early life until they develop the build and strength to fend off predatory adults.

Rinca - Where Komodo Dragons Live

The Komodo Dragons habitat on Rinca Island, Indonesia
The Komodo Dragons habitat on Rinca Island, Indonesia | Source

What Komodo Dragons Eat

Komodo Dragons are the top of the food chain in their natural habitats on the islands in which they reside. They are carnivorous and will eat whatever they can catch and kill. Sometime they will need to put up a good fight and may get injured or even killed, especially when preying on large animals such as buffalo.

Komodo Dragons have also been known to eat humans. On the island of Komodo farmers have been attacked and Dragons have even reportedly dug up the graves of human corpses to eat the bodies.

Komodo Dragons don't kill their prey with poison - they're not a poisonous species - rather they carry a strain of bacteria that causes an infection (normally terminal) in their prey. This bacteria is present on the saliva of the Komodo Dragons which they pass onto their prey through biting them. Due to their slow metabolisms, Dragons can go weeks between meals.

Komodo Dragons Habitat

Female Komodo Dragon guarding her nest.
Female Komodo Dragon guarding her nest. | Source

Komodo Dragon Quiz


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More Facts About Komodo Dragons

Komodo Dragons are believed to have lived in this part of Indonesia for millions years. Their large size has always been accredited to the island gigantism theory where, as the biggest species present with no predators, the species has been able to continue growing with nothing holding it back. Komodo Dragons first became known to humans as recently as 100 years ago when they were discovered by Dutch colonists in the early twentieth century. The dragons were studied for a few years before the first live specimens were transported to Europe in 1927 to become exhibits at London Zoo. An expedition to the Komodo Island in 1926 lead to the capturing of 12 specimens to be brought back to Europe for further study in order to develop human understanding of these fascinating creatures. W. Douglas Burden, the leader of this expedition is widely credited with coining the name Komodo Dragon.

DVD Feat. Komodo Dragons

How Big Can It Get?
How Big Can It Get?

Fascinating National Geographic DVD featuring a python, a 20-foot crocodile and a Komodo Dragon.

 

Komodo Dragon Picture

Another picture of Komodo Dragon keeping watch  around her nest
Another picture of Komodo Dragon keeping watch around her nest | Source

Visiting the Komodo Dragons Habitat

It's possible to visit Komodo National Park where you're able to take pictures of Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat rather than taking pictures of Komodo Dragons in a zoo. The best location in which to see the Dragons isn't on Komodo Island but on the island of Rinca. Rinca is home to around 1000 Komodo Dragons and visitors to the island have the best success in seeing them in their natural habitat. Tourist access to the National Park has been possible for the last 20 years or so but with tourism in this part of Indonesia growing all the time more and more people are starting to visit the park. This, some feel, will have a detrimental impact on the long-term future of the Komodo Dragons and will essentially turn the islands into zoo's.

It's an important issue and one that will likely get hotter in the years to come as the tourist infrastructure in Indonesia continues to improve and more and more people get lured into the exotic mysticism that has also surrounded the Dragons of Komodo.

Picture of Komodo Dragons

Fact about Komodo Dragons: They can grow up to 3 meters in length!
Fact about Komodo Dragons: They can grow up to 3 meters in length! | Source

Komodo Dragons Poll

Would you like you like to Visit the Komodo Islands?

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Komodo Dragons in Captivity

As with almost every other species known to man, Komodo Dragons are present in zoo's all over the world, the vast majority of which being in North America (over thirty). Although nowhere near the level of a Panda or a Tiger, Komodo Dragons are seen as a premium exhibit in a zoo and come at a high cost both in the procurement and in the maintenance. Keepers have been known to comment on how tame the Komodo Dragons become and how they quickly get accustomed (if little interested) in seeing humans in close proximity to them.

It's interesting that even the supposedly wild Dragons on the island of Rinca have become tame with some of them spending their days hanging around the Rangers hut - although this is a habit that started years ago when park rangers used to throw meat out to attract the Komodo Dragons to that visitors were able to see them. This practice was stopped several years ago however.

Monitor Lizard (Similar to a Komodo Dragon)

This isn't a picture of a Komodo Dragon, this is a picture of a Monitor Lizard in Malaysia.  Very similar looking.
This isn't a picture of a Komodo Dragon, this is a picture of a Monitor Lizard in Malaysia. Very similar looking. | Source

Guide Book for Visiting the Islands of The Komodo Dragons

Lonely Planet Indonesia (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Indonesia (Travel Guide)

Reliable guide book from the Lonely Planet that includes a section on how to visit the Islands of the Komodo Dragon and much more.

 

Comments

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    • Iammattdoran profile image
      Author

      Matt Doran 4 years ago from Manchester, UK

      @ Rajan - thanks for the comment Rajan! Komodo Dragons only live in Indonesia. There are none in India.

      @ Mike - many thanks for stopping by and reading Mike. Glad you found it interesting. Cheers. Matt

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      Very interesting hub and a lot of useful info! Comodo dragons are quite fascinating creatures.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting facts about Komodo dragons, Matt. I don't think we have these around here.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • Iammattdoran profile image
      Author

      Matt Doran 4 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Cheers Mick! We had 3 weeks in Indonesia altogether. We travelled the length of Flores (East to West) and really loved how un-touristic it was there. Real breath of fresh air. Then we took the Perama Tour boat to Lomobok, stopping at Rinca etc. From Lombok we went to the Gili Islands and relaxed before going to meet up with my Dad in Bali for a few days. Tip of iceberg really! Would love to go back again some day and see more of the country.

    • saltymick profile image

      saltymick 4 years ago

      This is a good one Matt. I was in Komodo and Rinca last year, great experience, amazing as you say, where else did you go in Indo?

    • Iammattdoran profile image
      Author

      Matt Doran 4 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Many thanks for the comments guys, much appreciated! It was an amazing experience. Thanks again. Matt

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I have never personally seen a Komodo Dragon, but would love to, from a distance. The term "dragon" makes them seem so ominous. I am glad the Indonesian people are taking precautions to keep these amazing animals from becoming extinct. This is a great hub on the Komodo Dragon and I see that these are your own pictures, great job! Voting this up and interesting. :)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Matt. A great look at this amazing creature. I did not realize that there were so few Komodo Dragons left. Another case where man has brought an amazing creature to the brink of extinction. Hopefully with the protection of the the Indonesian Government they can survive. Thanks for this great look at the Komodo. Voted up, shared, and pinned,