15 Interesting Fun Facts About Komodo Dragons
Do Komodo Dragons have venomous spit? And why should you run in zig-zags? Find out with this blood-curdling list of Komodo Dragon fun facts!
Komodo Dragons are the biggest lizards on Earth, and easily one of the Planet's most terrifying predators. But there's more to these amazing creatures than their bone-crunching bites, razor-sharp teeth and disgusting eating habits. Komodo Dragons are rare animals that are a key part of their local ecosystem, and they're as hardcore as they are endangered - which unfortunately, is a lot!
If the thought of venomous dragon spit is a bit much for you, you might want to head on over to these altogether softer flamingo facts, husky facts or koala facts. But if you think can handle these interesting facts about Komodo Dragons, then read on...
1. They're HUGE
Komodo Dragons are absolutely massive! They can grow up to 3 metres long and weigh almost 140kg. That makes them the heaviest lizards on Earth! The males are usually a bit stockier and more muscly, but either way these are some seriously big reptiles!
2. They only live in one place
Komodo Dragons are quite rare animals, and if you want to see one you have to be willing to travel to a few remote islands in South Eastern Indonesia. The dragons live in tropical forests and beaches, so you're unlikely to bump into one on your next day trip to Margate. Maybe for the best.
3. They're ferocious predators
Komodo Dragons are at the top of their island food chain, and they eat pretty much anything made of meat. They often hunt pigs, deer, buffalo, other Komodo Dragons... And if they can't find anything fresh they'll just scavenge rotting carcasses. So they're not fussy. They've been known to attack humans, and whilst we've learned to steer well clear of them, people do occasionally find themselves on a Komodo Dragon's dinner menu. Brrrrr!
4. Their bite is surprising
For such a massive and scary looking beast, you'd expect the Komodo Dragon to have a powerful bite. Well, actually their jaws are quite weak. Crocodiles of a similar size have much, much stronger bites - up to 5 times stronger! The Komodo Dragon more than makes up for it though, as they have razor sharp teeth and strong necks that yank on their prey and cause huge damage. Their bites have another secret weapon too...
5. They're venomous!
You see, Komodo Dragons don't need a powerful bite. Their jaws have large venom glands inside, which inject a toxic mix of chemicals into their prey when they're bitten. That's what all that drool is in this picture. The Komodo venom causes the prey's blood to stop clotting, which keeps them bleeding for longer. Komodo Dragons prefer to hunt by wounding their prey and then just following them round until they're weak enough to pick off. Sheeeeesh.
6. They have a great sense of smell
Komodo Dragons don't have the best vision or hearing, but they more than make up for that with their amazing sense of smell. Dragons can smell rotting meat from 10 kilometers away! Just like other reptiles, Komode Dragons use their forked tongues to smell the air - not their noses.
7. They have very impressive armour
Komodo Dragon skin is incredibly tough, and reinforced by hundreds of tiny plates of bone underneath the skin. But if they're at the top of the food chain, why do they need such tough armour? Good question - the answer is to protect against each other! Komodo Dragons regularly attack each other, and will even eat each other if they can't find an easier meal. Woah.
8. They don't need no man
A particularly cool fact is that like some other reptiles, female Komodo Dragons can reproduce without needing a male. If they can't find a suitable partner, female Komodo Dragons can lay perfectly healthy eggs without needing them to be fertilised by a male Dragon. Their eggs are actually fertilised by another egg - no sperm required!
9. They're surprisingly playful!
Now they may look terrifying, but Komodo Dragons love playing! Dragons in captivity have been seen playing with frisbees, dog toys, shovels... even enjoying a tug of war with a very brave zookeeper! The Dragons don't show any aggression whilst playing, so it certainly seems they have a kind of social life and even.... hobbies?
10. They could be dinosaurs
So we know they're not ACTUALLY dragons - but some scientists believe Komodo Dragons are the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs. There is some evidence of similarities in their DNA, but this is hotly argued about by paleontologists and lizard experts. All these classifications do get a bit confusing though, and things are usually more complicated than they seem. Technically speaking birds are a type of dinosaur!
11. They are respected by the locals
A local Indonesian legend says that that a Princess on Komodo Island gave birth to twins, one a human and one a baby dragon. One day many years later, the human son went to kill the dragon, until the Dragon Princess toldrevealed herself and told him the truth. This has led to a tradition where humans must respect the dragons, and treat them as members of the same family.
12. They're originally Australian
Scientists have discovered that Komodo Dragons originally evolved in what is now North East Australia, around 900,000 years ago. They moved to Indonesia during an Ice Age, and got trapped there as the Earth warmed up again. Now they're only found in Indonesia, although there are quite a few fossils in Australia that perfectly match Komodo Dragons alive today.
13. They're great at swimming!
Indonesia is made up of literally thousands of islands, so being able to swim is pretty handy! Komodo Dragons are really good at it too, and have been spotted swimming miles off shore! They don't tend to hunt in the water, but use their swimming skills to travel between islands in search of food.
14. Running in zig-zags confuses them
This is an important fact! If you're ever getting chased by a Komodo Dragon, make sure you run away in a zig-zag pattern. They're not used to their prey running in zig-zags so it confuses them and will help buy you some time to escape. They do run really fast though, so the best idea is to not get near one in the first place! (Obviously)
15. They need our help!
Despite being one of the most hardcore animals on the planet, they're unfortunately no match for our constant human expansion. Komodo Dragons are endangered animals, and outside of one National Park in Indonesia their numbers are shrinking. This is due to us humans destroying their habitat and generally getting in their way. So if you love these amazing animals it's time to do something about it - because they need your help!