The World’s Largest Living Lizard, The Komodo Dragon

All About The Komodo Dragon

The Komodo Dragon has long been a part of many myths and legends. The folklore of the Komodo Dragon is a mystical and interesting one that many Indonesian people on the island of Flores, still talk about today. The native people of the islands call the Komodo Dragon, or Monitor Lizard, one of three names. The Ora or Orah, the Buaya Darat or Land Crocodile or the Biawak Raksasa meaning Giant Monitor. No matter what you believe, the sight of a living Komodo Dragon in the wild is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. 

The once mysterious Komodo Dragons of Indonesia are now considered one of the most fascinating creatures on earth. The Komodo, also known as the Komodo Monitor, is the largest and heaviest lizard. Residing on just a few of the Lesser Sunda Group Islands in Indonesia, they are of course native to the island of Komodo. Are you interested in learning more about these powerful and remarkable creatures? Read on to find out more as we answer a selection of key questions about Indonesia’s Komodo Dragon.

Where does the Komodo Dragon live? 

The natural habitat of the Komodo Dragon is in Indonesia. Indonesia is in Asia and borders Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and East Timor. With over 17,000 islands in the Indonesian Archipelago, the Komodo is known to be in the Lesser Sunda Islands, specifically, Komodo Island. It is known on some of the neighbouring islands which are part of the Moluccas in the far East of the region. This group of islands extends out from the Malay Peninsular and includes Sumba, Flores, Alor and Timor.

Who discovered the Komodo Dragon? 

The first documented discovery of a Komodo Dragon was by European explorers in 1910. Lieutenant Van Steyn Hensbroek who travelled to Komodo Island to try and find the giant lizards is said to have found them and sent a sample of the lizard he killed for studies to a laboratory. His discovery was later found to be a monitor lizard by the Zoological Museum and Botanical Garden in Bogor Java.

How much does a Komodo Dragon weigh? 

A fully grown Komodo Dragon (Varanus Komodoensis) can weigh an impressive 300 pounds (135 kilos) and grow to over 3 metres (10 feet) in length. On average, they will weigh about 70 kilos. Therefore, they are the largest and heaviest lizard known to be alive at this present time on earth. A newly hatched Komodo Dragon is roughly 45 cm in length, and they have an expected life span of 30 years in the wild.

Are Komodo Dragons endangered? 

The increasing interest in the tourism sector has helped to raise the awareness of this species and encourage its protection by the Indonesian Government. The illegal trafficking of the species to the Asian market for medicinal purposes is an area that the authorities are actively working to prohibit. A Komodo Dragon can sell for 500 million rupiah on the illegal wildlife market. Police in East Java have made arrests of those involved in selling the animal as recently as early 2019.

The Komodo National Park was established in 1980 to help protect the vulnerable species both from over-tourism and the destruction of their natural habitat. The park is now a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site with active work to educate the local people about the wildlife that resides there including the Komodo Dragons. While not considered endangered, they have been listed as a vulnerable species.

Can a Komodo Dragon swim? 

Surprisingly, yes; the Komodo Dragon can swim! They can run, climb and swim, making them a serious predator. The Komodo has been said to swim in a similar style to a crocodile which is why the local people gave the monitor lizard its native name ‘Ora’ which means ‘land crocodile’. They have been seen in the ocean away from the shore and swim between places in search of food. They have been known to swim for hours at a time. 

How many Komodo Dragons are there in the world? 

It is estimated that there are less than 6000 Komodo Dragons remaining in the wild. There are roughly 1700 residing on Komodo Island, 1300 on Rinca Island, 100 on Gili Motang Island and 2000 on Flores Island. This rare species is vulnerable to human activities that threaten their natural existence. 

How often do Komodo Dragons eat?

The largest lizard on earth is said to eat ‘just about anything’. A Komodo Dragon can live off just 12 meals a year as it has a slow metabolism and can eat a massive 80% of its own body weight in each feeding. A Komodo does not have a diaphragm and can not drink water without allowing the water to fall to the back of its throat by tilting its head back. A Komodo will commonly eat dead animals and animal meat and are aggressive when it comes to eating their prey. This species has a venomous bite which is what they use to poison their prey when they hunt. 

Are Komodo Dragons poisonous?

It is true – the Komodo Dragon does have venom glands in their lower jaw. The venom is said to cause a drop in blood pressure and prevents blood from clotting. It has been a much-studied and debated topic for researchers to find out if the bite is a toxic bacteria or a poisonous venom. Recent research has shown that they have venomous saliva but that the strength and size of the dragon itself is what injures and kills their prey. Much is still being learned about this historic lizard, with scientists and researchers from around the world finding themselves fascinated with the Komodo Dragon.

Additional Quick Facts About the Komodo Dragon:

  • The Komodo Dragon can run up to 20klms on land.
  • The female can reproduce and lay eggs on her own due to something called parthenogenesis, meaning individual egg cells can fertilize each other. 
  • The sense of smell is heightened and highly useful to the Komodo as they can smell using their forked tongue and compensates for their considerably poor vision. 
  • The baby dragons are vulnerable to adults who are known for eating their young, and it makes up roughly 10% of their diet. 
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4 Comments
  1. What an amazing animal! We have monitor lizard in Singapore but nothing comparable to those dragons!
    Thanks for sharing interesting facts! Definitely on my list to see them!

  2. Definitely worth the experience! An unforgettable encounter with such a mighty creature!
    Thank you for bringing back memories and for the detailed information 🙂

  3. A very strange animal coming directly from the past world deserves to be seen in the wild.
    Going by boat, during a cruise, to see them is the right way to combine the pleasure of sailing and the taste of discovery.
    There are so many other magical places to discover and encounters to make….
    Yachting Experience has enchanted us and their knowledge of the places is reassuring.

  4. What an incredible animal and something almost to be seen to be believed! I hope that the protection of their land is continued to increase and travellers can view them sustainably in the wild for many years to come.

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