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Komodo Dragon

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Komodo dragons - Varanus komodoensis

Komodo dragons - Varanus komodoensis

Photo © Dennis Hinaris / iStockphoto.

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) are the largest of all lizards. Adult Komodo dragons are dull brown, dark grey, or reddish in color, while juveniles are green with yellow and black stripes.

Komodo dragons are carnivores and scavengers. They are the top carnivores in their ecosystems. Komodo dragons occasionally capture live prey by hiding in ambush and then charging their victims, although their primarily food source is carrion. They have good vision and adequate hearing but rely mostly on their acute sense of smell to detect potential prey. Komodo dragons have a long, yellow, deeply-forked tongue and sharp serrated teeth.

Komodo dragons have a rounded snout, strong limbs, and a muscular tail. They establish home ranges but they do not defend these territories. When Komodo dragons encounter one another, the dominant lizard (usually the largest male) prevails.

The mating season for Komodo dragons takes place each year during July and August. In September, females dig an egg chamber in which she lays up to 30 eggs. She covers the eggs with leaves and lies over the nest to incubate the eggs. After about 8 months they hatch and the mother provides no additional care. When born, the young are approximately 37cm in length. They are vulnerable to predation by adult Komodo dragons, birds, and mammals. For this reason the young climb up into trees where an arboreal lifestyle gives them refuge from predation until they are large enough to defend themselves.

Komodo dragons inhabit the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca, and Padar. They live in tropical savannah forests, open lowland habitat, beaches, dry riverbeds.

Komodo dragons are carnivores. Young Komodo dragons feed on small prey such as lizards, snakes and small mammals. Adult Komodo dragons prey on larger animals such as deer, water buffalo and pigs. They also feed on carrion.

Size and Weight:

6½ - 9¾ long and about 150 pounds

Reproduction:

Komodo dragons reproduce sexually. They reach sexual maturity at about 5 years of age and breed during the months of July through September. Their gestation period is 8 months.

Classification:

Animals > Chordates > Reptiles > Squamates > Lizards > Monitor Lizards > Komodo Dragon

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