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Komodo Dragon

CONSERVATION STATUS : VULNERABLE
COMMON EXTINCT
Classification:

Other Common Names: Ora, Komodo Monitor
Order: Squamata
Genus & Species: Varanus komodoensis
Family: Varanidae

Status:

Listed as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List

Range:

In the Indonesian archipelago: Komodo Island, west coast of Flores Island, Padar Island, and Rinca Island

Habitat:

Dry monsoon forest, savanna, mangrove swamps, open beach, steppe, thickets and offshore islets, reefs, and sand bars. Found at elevations up to 2,300 feet.

Activity:

Diurnal, spending most of the day basking, searching for prey, or interacting with other Komodo dragons.

Size:

Length: Females up to 7 feet, males up to 10 feet

Weight: up to 350 lbs

Longevity:

In captivity, 20 years or more.

Diet:

Carnivorous, eating primarily boar, deer, and water buffalo (all introduced species), but also civet cats, rats, birds, fish, snakes, and on occasion other dragons, dogs, chickens, goats, snails, clams, porcupines, and macaque monkeys. Scavenging rather than killing prey is preferred. Zoo diet is rats.

Description:

Females are an olive-brown color with yellow patches on the throat. Males vary in color from dark gray to a brick red. They have long heads, necks and heavy tails that are almost as long as their bodies from snout tip to vent. Young are olive brown with red, orange, and yellow spotting.

Reproduction:

Offspring: One to thirty eggs laid in burrows dug by females.

Incubation: 8 to 8.5 months.

Parental care: Females may defend nest sites for a period of time after laying eggs but do not provide care for young after they hatch.

Ecology, Adaptations, Etc:

Komodos are the chief predator in their range filling the niche usually occupied by large carnivorous mammalian predators such as cats and wolves.   The total land area occupied by the Komodo is less than 400 sq miles making it the smallest range of an alpha predator anywhere in the world. Their keen sense of smell enables them to locate food from as far away as 6 miles. They have a core area that provides for most of their basic needs – thickets, burrows, and rock slides for napping and sleeping in, a few good spots where they can hide to ambush prey, some high ground where they can test the winds for the scent of nearby carrion, several dunging sites where males can mark territory, and a watering hole.   The animals avoid each other’s core areas but their foraging areas overlap. The wild Komodo has as many as 50 forms of virulent bacteria in its saliva that could cause serious blood poisoning in an animal that has been bitten.

Comments:

When hatched, young Komodos are left to fend for themselves against predators including other Komodos, which may even be their parents. This is often thought of as a form of population control. Up until the age of 2 or 3 years, they are able to climb up trees and stay there. This can be used as a way to protect themselves from adult Komodos and for capturing prey by landing on them.   Although they have the capabilities to do so, Komodos do not usually attack humans.

Fun Facts:

  • Body temp ranges from 23-33 degrees Celsius (73-92 degrees F); sometimes up to 40 degrees C. This is higher and more consistent than many other reptiles.
  • Indonesia – worlds largest archipegalo; 14, 000 islands; 1,000 miles wide b/w Asia & Australia
  • Survives temps 80degrees F in shade to 130 degrees F in sun
  • Avg body temp is 97 degrees F
  • Smell prey with tongue up to 5 miles away.