A Komodo Dragon is a lizard, and it is by far the biggest on the planet. These lizards may grow to be 10 feet (three meters) long, around the length of a compact vehicle. They’re also big – on average, they can weigh up to 154 pounds, but they’ve been weighed up to 135 kilos, which is about the same as a panda bear!
The Komodo Dragon is found on the island of Komodo and a few other surrounding islands north of Australia. Although ancient seafarers’ charts contained notations of “here be dragons” sprinkled around the islands of what is now Malaysia and Indonesia, it was probably never more widely spread. Scientists did not establish the presence of these amazing gigantic reptiles until the early 1900s.
Where did the Komodo Dragon originate?
Scientists have discovered that the Komodo Dragon, the world’s biggest living lizard species, most likely developed in Australia and spread westward to its present habitat in Indonesia.
Previously, experts hypothesised that the Komodo Dragon evolved from a smaller progenitor isolated on the Indonesian islands, growing its huge size as a response to a lack of competition from other predators or as a specialised hunter of Stegodon pygmy elephants.
Over the last three years, however, an international team of scientists discovered many fossils from eastern Australia dating from 300,000 to about 4 million years ago that they now know belong to the Komodo Dragon. According to the experts, the Komodo dragon’s progenitor most likely originated in Australia and migrated westward, eventually reaching the Indonesian island of Flores 900,000 years ago. Comparing fossils to contemporary Komodo Dragons on Flores reveals that the lizard’s body size has remained largely constant since then.
What does the Komodo Dragon eat?
Komodo Dragons are carnivores (meat eaters) and will consume any animal that they can dismember and swallow down. Although they are mostly scavengers, they do capture live prey such as deer, pigs, birds, and even young dragons. Because the much-heavier adults cannot climb, the kids can escape by climbing trees. Komodo Dragons are excellent swimmers and have been observed foraging for fish and birds in the surf.
Komodo Dragons are fearsome predators, as even a single bite can be fatal. The germs in the dragon’s saliva are so deadly that wounds seldom heal. Even if the victim manages to flee, it typically succumbs to infection within a few days.
Can Komodo Dragons be kept as pets?
It is against the law to keep a Komodo Dragon as a pet. It is also prohibited to remove one of these lizards from their natural environment without the express permission of the government. Having one will result in harsh consequences, which frequently involve extended jail time.
Obviously, you can’t keep a Komodo Dragon as your pet, but there are other monitor lizards which can be kept as pets.
Why can’t I keep a Komodo Dragon as a pet?
The Komodo Dragon has been designated as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Komodo National Park in Indonesia was established in 1980 to preserve these lizards. Many factors have contributed to the decrease of Komodo Dragons, including habitat degradation, climate change, tourism, loss of food supply to poachers, and dragon poaching. In 2015, it was believed that just 3,000 remained in the wild. Owning, threatening, or hunting the species is currently prohibited.
Another reason it is forbidden to acquire a Komodo Dragon is for safety reasons. Because of their huge size and strong bite, they are tough to manage.
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