Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragons are also called Komodo monitors, or by the local Indonesian name, ora. These giant lizards belong to the family Varanidae, which includes 52 species of monitor lizards.

Adult Komodos are mostly black, green or gray, with patches of yellowbrown or white. They reach 10 feet in length and more than 300 pounds, making them the heaviest lizards on Earth. They have a huge, muscular tail, flat head with rounded nostrils, scales, and strong bowed legs. Despite their size, the Komodo are agile and fast moving. They can climb trees and they are good swimmers.

They have about 60 teeth with jagged edges, resembling those of flesheating sharks. The flexible skull allows them to swallow large pieces of its food. The Komodos mouth is full of virulent bacterias and even if its prey survives the original attack, it will later die of infection.

Life span in the wild is estimated at up to 50 years. They have lived to more than 25 years old in captivity.

The distribution of Komodo dragons is restricted to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rintja, Padar and Flores. Padar does not have a permanent population. Komodo National Park makes up all islands except Flores.

The habitat of Komodo dragons is extremely harsh with arid and steep slopes, and little available water. A short monsoon season often produces local flooding.

The average annual temperature at sea level on Komodo island is 80F degrees. Komodo dragons live mostly in the lowlands, but have occasionally been found at heights up to 1,967 feet.

The Komodo is carnivorous and cannibalistic and it has a prodigious appetite. It is primarily a scavenger. When hunting, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage and patience, lying in wait for passing prey. They will eat almost anything, including carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans dragons make up to 10% of their diet. An adult Komodo can consume up to 80% of its body weight in one meal.

Animals that escape the jaws of a Komodo will only feel lucky briefly. Dragon saliva contain over 50 strains of bacteria. The prey usually dies of blood poisoning within 24 hours. Dragons calmly follow an escapee for miles as the bacteria takes effect.

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