Komodo Dragon

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Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon (rear view)

Komodo dragons are the biggest lizard species in the world. They live in the tropical savanna forests of Komodo and other Indonesian islands that are part of the Lesser Sunda group. They feed primarily on meat from a wide range of prey, including water buffalo and rodents. Komodo dragons live to be about 30 years old in the wild.


Content List

1. Scientific & Common Names

2. Characteristics

a. Breeding

b. Behavior

3. History

4. Present Status

5. References


Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom: Animalia

Class: Repilita

Order: Squamata

Family: Varanidae

Genus: Varanus

Species: V. komodoensis

Common Names: Komodo Dragon, Komodo Monitor, Ora


Characteristics

Komodo dragons have scaly skin that ranges from grayish red to brown in color, bowed legs, rounded snouts, powerful jaws and long, muscular tails. They grow to be about 330 pounds as adults and measure an average of 10 feet in length.


Breeding

Komodo dragons breed from July through September. Females lay about 30 eggs, which incubate for around eight months. The mother protects her nest, but does not appear to provide any care for her young once they hatch. Komodo dragon hatchlings have high mortality rates due to adult Komodo dragons and other animals. Those that do survive are able to breed once they reach 9 or 10 years of age.


Behavior

Komodo dragons hunt for prey during the day or scavenge carcasses. Their saliva contains toxins that can cause shock and deadly infections, which is something that was only recently discovered. They rely primarily on their sense of smell and the tip of their tongue to find food, although they are also capable of spotting prey that is over 300 feet away.


History

Although Komodo dragons have been in their current habitat for millions of years, they weren’t discovered until roughly 100 years ago. In 1915, they became a protected species under Dutch law. They have been hunted for years, although this has only more recently started to contribute to more significant population declines.


Present Status

Komodo dragons are listed as Endangered due to declining populations. The latest estimates put the population between 3,000 and 5,000 in the wild. The main threats Komodo dragons face include habitat loss, poaching, natural disasters and a decline in egg-laying females. They are protected by anti-poaching laws and the presence of Komodo National Park, which was established in 1980, also helps maintain population numbers.


References

   http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Varanus_komodoensis/
   http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/reptilesamphibians/facts/factsheets/komododragon.cfm
   http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/komodo-dragon/