The scientific name for Komodo dragon is Varanus komodoensis. Komodo dragon is their most recognized name, but they are also sometimes known as Komodo monitor or Komodo Island monitor.
Komodo dragons are found on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang which are part of a chain of islands in Indonesia.
They belong to the family Varanidae which includes monitor lizards and are some of the most intelligent lizards.
The Komodo dragon is the largest species of lizard in the world. The largest of them can get up to 10 feet long and weigh 300 pounds, but an average male is usually closer to 8-1/2 feet and 175 to 200 pounds with females a little smaller at 7-1/2 feet and 150 to 160 pounds.
They are carnivores. Young dragons will eat small lizards, insects, snakes, and birds. As they get larger, they eat larger food such as rodents, monkeys, goats, boars, and deer. They can eat up to 80 percent of their body weight in one meal. They have slow metabolisms, so don’t have to eat too often.
Komodo dragons usually like to wait and ambush their prey. Their serrated teeth can do quite a bit of damage, but they also have bacteria and venom in their saliva.
They just need to bite their prey once and then wait for it to die, which can take up to 4 days. After their prey dies, they are able to locate it with their excellent sense of smell. They use their tongue to taste and smell with their Jacobson’s organ in the roof of their mouth and can smell carrion 2-1/2 miles away.
Their venom is produced in two glands located in the lower jaw and is made up of toxic proteins which can prevent blood from clotting so their prey may bleed to death, cause lower blood pressure, muscle paralysis, and hypothermia. If that doesn’t kill their prey, their saliva has been found to have 50 different strains of bacteria, some of which are known to easily cause sepsis.
The Komodo dragon is listed as vulnerable due to decreasing range and available food due to human activity. In 2015, it was assessed there were 3,014 individuals in the wild. The Komodo National Park was founded in 1980 and they are protected by Indonesian law.