Monday, September 27, 2010

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragons are found exclusively on the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia (including the obvious Komodo Island.) They are the heaviest lizards on Earth, weighing upwards of 300lbs. They can grow as long as 10ft, with males being longer and heavier than females.

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One of the most amazing things about the Komodo Dragon is it's method of hunting and killing prey. They are extremely opportunistic feeders, and will eat pigs, deer, and even humans and water buffalo. They are also cannibalistic and fill feed on young Dragons.

On a side note, young Komodo Dragons must immediately reach the safety of trees after hatching, because adults will eat them without a second thought. The young Dragons will remain in the trees for about four years, until they are large enough to truly fend for themselves on the ground.

Anyway, back to hunting. Komodo Dragons hunt by waiting patiently for a potential meal to walk by. Then they strike out with their claws and teeth. If they kill the prey during the initial attack, they are able to devour it with amazing speed. One Komodo was observed eating an entire 90lb pig in just 20 minutes.

Now here comes the really interesting part. If a Komodo Dragon is unable to kill its prey on the initial assault they will simply follow it around and wait for it to die. The saliva of a Komodo Dragon contains 50 different strains of bacteria, which will afflict and poison the blood of the animal they attacked. In only a matter of days the animal will be dead and the Komodo can feed. Because of their keen sense of smell, other Dragons might take part in the stalking, and multiple individuals will fight over the kill when it eventually expires.

Komodo Dragons are endangered. Their habitats have diminished and now they share the same hunting prey as humans. There are between 3,000 and 5,000 Komodo Dragons living in the wild.

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