Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Komodo Dragon

Varanus komodoensis

The Komodo Dragon is the largest lizard on Earth. Males can reach a length of 10 ft long, and females can grow to be up to 7 ft long. They can weigh anywhere from 150 lbs to over 200 lbs.

Range & Habitat

In the Wild: Komodo dragons live in the hot, dry savannahs, or open grasslands, of several Indonesian islands.

At the Zoo: Courtyard, glass enclosure in summer months, exhibit in social animal building in colder months.

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Komodo dragons inhabit a very small area. Because of this, manmade changes to their habitat affect the population very drastically. A significant threat to the Komodo dragon is the overhunting of deer, an important staple in their diet.

Diet

In the Wild: wild pigs, deer, water buffalo

At the Zoo: A specialized diet of humanely sourced rabbits, chicks, quail, rats and other frozen meats to mimic their wild diet.

Life Span

In the Wild – 30 years; In Human Care – 30 years

Fun Facts about the Komodo Dragon

  • Komodo dragons ambush their prey. They will use camouflage and stand still for hours at a time, waiting for something tasty to walk buy. 
  • The Komodo dragon has serrated teeth that harbor many types of bacteria and a powerful anticoagulant (blood thinner). When a Komodo dragon bites its prey, the bacteria go into the animal’s bloodstream along with venom that prevents the soon-to-be meal’s blood from clotting. The Komodo dragon will then track the prey for days until it eventually drops. 
  • Komodo dragons use their forked tongues to both taste and smell. They can smell carrion (decaying meat) from as far away as 2.5 miles. 
  • When threatened, the Komodo dragon will induce vomiting to reduce its body weight. This allows the Komodo dragon to run faster (up to 13 mph).

Sources

Live Science, Komodo Dragon Facts. https://www.livescience.com/27402-komodo-dragons.html

Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, Komodo Dragon. 

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/komodo-dragon

National Geographic, Komodo Dragon. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/k/komodo-dragon/

Sea Trek, Fun frightening facts about the world’s largest lizard, Komodo dragon. https://seatrekbali.com/fun-frightening-facts-about-the-world%E2%80%99s-largest-lizard-the-komodo-dragon 

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1996. Varanus komodoensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1996: e.T22884A9396736. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.1996.RLTS.T22884A9396736.en. Downloaded on 03 December 2020.

Updated February 2, 2021
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