The Komodo dragon holds the title of the largest lizard on earth. This is for a good reason. Weighing up to 300 pounds, the Komodo dragon is the dominant species of its home. The volcanic islands of Komodo are home to hundreds of dragons. These fierce lizards are born to dominate.
When a baby Komodo dragon is born, it spends most of its young life in trees. Why? Adults won't waste any time swallowing young dragons whole. They are voracious cannibals. When it comes to survival, they need all they can get.
These lizards can grow up to 10 feet long. Size matters much in Komodo dragon society. The strongest and most dominant get the greatest share of food and territory. In South Indonesia, on Komodo Island, they are the apex predators of their homeland. No local animal can contend with the dragon. Their prey includes deer, younger Komodo dragons, monkeys, goats, birds, wild pigs, even the much stronger water buffalo, which outweighs the lizard. So how does a Komodo dragon take down its prey?
The Komodo dragon is an ambush predator. They have great skill in appearing non-threatening to animals that let their guard down. In the bottom jaw of the dragon, there are venom glands that secrete venom through the gums. A Komodo dragon must deliver a clean bite to its victim. Serrated teeth allow them to cut through the flesh of prey. Once an animal is bitten, the venom slowly takes effect. Unlike a snake's venom, a Komodo dragon's venom does not instantly kill prey in minutes. It could take days or even weeks for the toxin to do its work. The venom is made to prevent blood from clotting, which causes the unfortunate victim to die from blood loss and blood poisoning. They have a highly successful kill rate compared to other animals like lions. It was thought that their saliva was filled with deadly bacteria. Today, new research shows that they indeed produce toxic venom.
At full speed, the dragon can run at 12 miles per hour. Their speed comes in handy when chasing prey or rival dragons. It is a social hierarchy among Komodo dragons. The larger and more dominant dragons take their place above less experienced dragons. If there is a challenger among them, a fight is bound to break loose. Fights between them can be a result of squabbling over food and especially breeding rights. Fortunately, they are equipped with weapons and armor for combat. Sharp claws allow the lizard to scratch and latch onto their opponents. Their skin is linked together with scaly plates like chain mail to withstand slashing of each other's claws along with biting.
Fights between two of these giant lizards can be dangerous. When a scuffle breaks out, it mainly involves wrestling and scratching. They fight, intending to pin the rival dragon to the ground. The two lizards will grapple, twist, and struggle until the weaker lizard is finally pinned down and submits to the dominant one. Besides their claws and jaws, they possess just as much of a dangerous weapon. A thick, muscular tail serves as a powerful self-defense tool in their arsenal. If a threat is present, the lizard will swing its tail, whacking its opponent. On humans, it can leave a heavy bruise.
Sense of Smell
When it comes to hunting, a Komodo dragon depends heavily on a highly developed sense of smell. Flicking their forked tongues in and out, the tips of the tongue gather scent particles in the air and scent trails on the ground left by other animals that serve as prey. When they draw their tongue back into their mouth, the tongue tips touch the Jacobson's organ on the roof of the mouth. It helps them to analyze the scent and determine if they are on the trail of something edible. While walking, a dragon moves its head from side to side. This is because there are hundreds of scent trails along the ground, and they are constantly making decisions on which one to follow.