Komodo dragon males are larger than females. They have a robust body, short but strong powerful legs with claws and a long tail.
In adults, the skin is brown-gray. The jaws are very strong and powerful, the teeth are about 2 cm in length, are sharp, serrated and backward. Like the snakes, Komodo dragons have a forked tongue, which serves, together with the Jacobson's organ, to obtain information about the surrounding environment.
It wasn't until 1910 that European "discovered" the Komodo Dragon. When the dutch colonial administration Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek heard rumors about a "land crocodile".
They are found on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and in small numbers they can also be found on Flores island. The Komodo dragon prefers dry and hot places. The Komodo dragon lives mainly in open grassland, savannas, tropical forest at low elevations and shrublands, although they can also be found in mangroves, coastal areas and reefs.
They are powerful predators, the Komodo dragon hunts by ambush, waiting to prey along the tracks and perform a surprise attack, trying to hold it by the neck, breaking it,or unleashing big nasty bites in the feet or other parts of their body.
The larger prey that manages to escape will probably die within a few days due to bleeding and infection resulting from their wounds, as the Komodo dragons have numerous species of bacteria in saliva.
This "bacterial soup" may contain bacteria such as Staphylococcus sp. Providencia sp., Proteus sp. and Pseudomonas sp.) which are responsible for the infection of wounds inflicted by their attacks, weakening or even killing the prey that has escaped, if it does not die from the strong hemorrhage.
The dead prey can then be consumed by the individual himself or by other komodo dragons (the Komodo dragon is capable of detecting the scent of a cadaver up to 10 km away with favorable wind).
They are diurnal animals and loners who meet only to mate or, occasionally, around a cadaver for feeding. Juvenile Komodo dragons are mainly arboreal, becoming progressively more land animals as they grow.
The adults dig burrows in the soil, which are used as resting places during the night, the juveniles, in turn, take refuge in tree cavities. Despite its large size, the Komodo dragon moves with speed on land or in water, since they were even seen resting or foraging on the bottom of coral reefs, being able to dive to 4 feet deep and swim considerable distances under the surface. In general, the larger animals define territories and the rest have nomadic tendencies.
Komodo Dragon Diet
Komodo dragons are carnivores. The Komodo dragon is both a predator and a scavenger. Juveniles feed on insects, small lizards, birds, small mammals and carrion. The adults feed on wild pigs, goats, deer, buffalo calves, horses, monkeys, snakes, birds and carrion, they also practice cannibalism, eating the eggs and juveniles of their own species.
The scavenging (intake of cadavers) is an important source of food for this species, all parts of the body are consumed, including bones, with the exception of pieces of loose hair and the contents of the stomach or intestine, this is because the Komodo dragon can't digest vegetable matter.
It is thought that this is the reason why juveniles have a habit of rubbing the fur, and the contents of the viscera of dead bodies, thus trying to reduce the likelihood that the Komodo dragons adults see them as potential prey.
The Komodo dragon is voracious animal too: a single adult can consume 30 kg of a boar in 17 minutes. They can consume up to 80% of their weight in one meal. Since they have a slow metabolism, Komodo dragons can survive with few meals, feeding as little as 1 time per month.
Komodo Dragon Reproduction
It is an oviparous species. Mating occurs from June to August and the eggs are laid in September. During the mating season, males will compete over females and territory by fighting with one another on their hind legs with the loser eventually being tossed to the ground.
In the mating ritual, the male looks at the female's sexual receptivity by analyzing the odor and exerting pressure with the muzzle on certain parts of the body: the sides of the snout, temple zones and the zones of insertion of the legs.
Usually the male begins by checking the areas of insertion of the legs with his tongue and go around and over the back of the female body, then puts himself to this side and rubs her back, finally, he explores the sides of the muzzle and the temple zones of the female, to what might follow copulation.
The postures occur in August and September. The female lays 15-40 eggs in a hole, she digs in the soil, the overall posture can be divided into several successive days. Incubation lasts eight to nine months or so, the young are born in April or May, at the end of the short wet season, when there is a greater abundance of insects.
Sexual maturity is reached when the individual reaches 70 cm in length (excluding tail), or around five to seven years old. The longevity of the Komodo dragon is probably about 50 years.
Komodo Dragon Conservation status and main threats
It is a vulnerable species (the International Union for Conservation of Nature). Belongs to Appendix I of CITES. Is threatened by hunting, poisoning by made by local people (in order to protect children and cattle), the decline of prey on which they feed (resulting from human action) and held by predation by domestic dogs.
The Lesser Sunda, where the Komodo National Park, were classified as closed areas by the Indonesian government, both for the Komodo dragon as to their prey. The great public interest aroused by this reptile is beginning to be very important to the tourism economy of the islands where he lives, so that local populations are increasingly involved in conservation. The total population in the wild is currently estimated at 3000-5000 individuals.
Species: V. komodoensis