Popularly called Monitor Lizard in Nigeria, the Komodo Dragon is discovered to be the only largest living species of lizard still in existence. Originally from Australia, it is also found in the Indonesian Islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Padar.
The animal’s popularity as Komodo Dragon grew due to its peculiar larger than normal size – with a maximum length of 3 meters (10 ft) in rare cases and weighing up to approximately 70 kilograms (150 lb), for ones that dominate the Island in Indonesia.
These innocent looking but ferocious reptiles are well adapted to hot, dry or aquatic habitat and typically live in open grassland, savanna, scrubland and tropical forests at low elevations. With the powerful sharp claws and forelimbs, the Komodo dragons dig holes that can measure from 1 – 3 meters (3 – 10 feet) wide.
Years of studying and research carried out on the scavenger beast shows that like snakes, they are one of the few venomous lizards on the planet.
According to Bryan Fry, a venom researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who carried out the research said the dragon’s venom is poisonous enough to rapidly decreases blood pressure, expedites blood loss, and send a victim into shock, rendering it too weak to fight.
They are known to hunt in packs using ambush strategy to take down preys. The ones as big as 8.5 feet long weighing as much as 200 pounds go for bigger meat, while smaller monitor lizards eat smaller preys.
Komodo dragons are very fast creatures contrary to their lumbering and deceptive movement. They can run rapidly in brief sprints up to 20 kilometres per hour (12.4 miles per hour).
Instead of killing people, these creatures prefer to raid graves and find what to eat there. As such, people bury their loved ones and put large stones on the graves in places where the Komodo lizards are found in large numbers.
Unfortunately, Komodo dragons are recorded to be responsible for the death of four people in the last 41 years. There are also reports that it has also attacked a few people including a Singaporean tourist whose leg was severed by the animal in 2017.
One fascinating fact about this creatures is their slow metabolism. As they are capable of swallowing down as much as 80 percent of their own body weight in food, their digestion process helps them survive on as little as one meal a month.
They are also cannibalistic in nature – meaning they eat their young ones. What is very interesting is the fact that these mature lizards feed on the young ones and it is these new ones that serve as much as 10% of the meal of the adults.
Komodo Dragons are good swimmers and they sometimes swim long distances in search of food. With their bites, they can bring down even animals as large as the buffalo. This is because of the venomous glands they have. If they bite each other while fighting, nothing will happen to them because they are immune to their venom.
On reproduction, the Komodo dragon can reproduce sexually or asexually depending on their environmental conditions. In situations where the female lives alone, research conducted on ones kept in the zoo showed that no male contributed to fertilization of offsprings.
But in the case of sexual reproduction, mating is said to begin between May and August, and the eggs are laid in September. About 20 eggs are deposited in abandoned megapode nests or in a self-dug nesting hole.
Incubated for seven to eight months, the eggs hatching in April when insects are most plentiful. Young Komodo dragons are vulnerable and therefore dwell in trees, safe from predators and cannibalistic adults; take 8 to 9 years to mature, and are estimated to live up to 30 years. What has been found is that it doesn’t matter the manner of conception, the young ones are mostly born healthy.
While as stated they can live up to 30 years, when they are held in captivity, they can only get to live a few years before they die.
Conservation of Komodo Dragon
This animal has been declared vulnerable by IUCN and is protected under Indonesian law – where the risk of attacking the creature is very rare since it can kill a human.
However, the reverse is the case in other countries. For instances, in some part of Nigeria, the Komodo dragon also known as Monitor lizard serves as meat, therefore are the hunters’ catch.