What Are the Dragons of Komodo?
The dragons of Komodo are the world’s largest lizards. They inhabit the remote Indonesian island of Komodo, and look very much like storybook dragons without wings. Local people call them “ora,” or “land crocodile.” Komodo dragons are a species of monitor lizard, which are large reptiles found in Africa and across Asia.
These giant lizards can grow to a length of ten feet (3 meters) and weigh over 300 pounds (135 kilograms). Females grow to 6 feet (1.8 m). They are identified by their massive size, flat heads, bowed legs and long, thick tails. Long, snakelike tongues, saw-edged teeth, and a scaly skin add to their dragon like appearance.
Komodos come in a variety of colors, including blue, orange, green and gray. Their skin is rough and durable, reinforced with bony plates called osteoderms. They have long claws and a large, muscular tail.
Komodos have good vision; they can see objects as far away as 985 feet (300 m), according to the Smithsonian Zoo. They are also speedy. They can run briefly up to 13 mph (20 kph) but prefer to hunt by stealth — waiting for hours until prey cross their path.
Their sense of smell is their primary food detector, however. According to the Smithsonian Zoo, Komodo dragons, like snakes, use their forked tongues to sample the air, and then touch the tongue to the roof of their mouth, where special organs analyze the airborne molecules. If the left tongue tip has more concentrated “smell,” the dragon knows that their prey is approaching from the left.
These huge reptiles live in caves which they dig with their strong claws. These caves make dual-purpose homes for komodos where they stay warm at night, and during the day the same caves keeps them cool. They feed mainly on the carcasses of goats and wild pigs, but occasionally attack live animals as well. They will also eat smaller dragons. They can eat 80 percent of their body weight in one feeding.