Komodo Dragon

Discover a reptile that has thrived on Earth for millions of years, but is facing extinction today. Learn more about Komodo dragons, the heaviest lizards in the world.

A Komodo dragon photographed at Houston Zoo in Texas
Common Name: Komodo Dragon
Scientific Name: Varanus komodoensis
Type: Reptiles
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in Captivity:  Up to 30 years.
Size: 10 feet
Weight: 330 pounds

Size relative to a 6-ft man

IUCN Red List Status: 
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.

lc

Least Concern

At relatively low risk of extinction

nt

Near Threatened

Likely to become vulnerable in the near future

vu

Vulnerable

At high risk of extinction in the wild

en

Endangered

At very high risk of extinction in the wild

cr

Critically Endangered

At extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

ew

Extinct in the Wild

Survives only in captivity

ex

Extinct

No surviving individuals in the wild or in captivity

Data Deficient

Not enough information available to make an assessment

Not Evaluated

No assessment has been made

?
Vulnerable
lc
nt
vu
en
cr
ew
ex
least concernextinct
Current Population Trend: 

Unknown


Komodo dragons have thrived in the harsh climate of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years.

Size and Weight

Reaching 10 feet in length and more than 300 pounds, Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth. They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, scaly skin, bowed legs, and huge, muscular tails.

Diet

As the dominant predators on the handful of islands they inhabit, they will eat almost anything, including carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans. When hunting, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage and patience, lying in wait for passing prey. When a victim ambles by, the dragon springs, using its powerful legs, sharp claws and serrated, shark-like teeth to eviscerate its prey.

Feeding

The dragon has venom glands, which are loaded with toxins that lower blood pressure, cause massive bleeding, prevent clotting, and induce shock. They bite down with serrated teeth and pull back with powerful neck muscles. The result: huge gaping wounds. The venom then quickens the loss of blood and sends the prey into shock. Animals that escape the jaws of a Komodo will only feel lucky briefly. Dragons can calmly follow an escapee for miles as the venom takes effect, using their keen sense of smell to hone in on the corpse. A dragon can eat a whopping 80 percent of its body weight in a single feeding.

Population

There is a stable population of Komodo dragons on the islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores. However, a dearth of egg-laying females, poaching, human encroachment, and natural disasters have threaten the species' population. 

WATCH: Living Among Ancient Dragons
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