Komodo Dragon. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3102/2868647426_ce5f4d0123.jpg. Description.
The Komodo Dragon is the world’s heaviest living lizard, they can grow up to 10 feet and weigh as much as 200 lbs. They can live more than 50 years. They are natives of a small cluster of islands in Indonesia but have been extirpated from the majority of that land. The Komodo Dragon is a solitary animal that is grey with as stocky body and box-shaped head. It has large backwards-facing teeth that allow it to better grab a hold of its prey. The Komodo Dragon cannot run very fast for a long time there for it is not an avid hunter but instead it relies on its acute eyesight and stealth to ambush unsuspecting prey- one bite is all it takes because the Komodo Dragon has specialized bacteria in its saliva that causes severe infection and eventually death in as little as a few hours.
Scientific Name: Varanuskomodoenis
IUCN REDLIST: VULNERABLE
The Komodo Dragon lives in the tropical climate of the South East Asian Country of Indonesia. Inner parts of its island habitat are heavily forested, this allows for large fauna such as the Water Buffalo ( a Komodo Dragon prey of choice) to inhabit the islands. The outskirts of the islands are beaches and sand dunes. Despite the fact that Indonesia has over 1,700 islands, the Komodo Dragon only inhabits 6 of them. The largest island that the Komodo Dragon inhabits is Flores, but the animal has been extirpated from the vast majority of this land. There are no migration patterns for this animal.
The Komodo Dragon is generally a scavenger, though it does hunt. It feeds mostly on large carrion such as Water Buffalo carcasses. When the Komodo Dragon DOES hunt it uses stealth to sneak close to the prey, usually by watering holes, and then ambushes it. It uses its large claws and backwards-facing teeth to cling to the prey, after the first bite its deadly saliva reaches the blood steam and instantly starts to poison the prey until it dies. The Komodo Dragon has very loose, hinging bones in its head and throat, this allows it to swallow prey up to the size of a goat whole. It has been seen ramming the carcass of a goat against a tree to help force it down its throat. Other food includes deer, washed-up fish, snakes, and pigs. It can consume up to 80% of its body weight in one meal. Due to its extremely slow metabolism, the Komodo Dragon may only need to eat as little as 12 times a year.
The Komodo Dragon MATES once a year, males compete for females by standing on their muscular tails and dueling. Once a male is victorious it stays with the female until the end of the mating season to prevent other males from mating with her. However, female Komodo Dragons have the ability of parthenogenesis meaning that they can lay unfertilized eggs. The animals born from this process are always male thus there are far more male Komodo Dragons than females. Females typically lay between 20-30 eggs which then incubate for 9 months depending on temperature. Komodo Dragons do not care for their young. There are approximately 3000-5000 Komodo Dragons in the wild.
Because the Komodo Dragons are often scavengers they play a large role in the ecosystem by keeping the islands clean of decaying carcasses. By consuming the remnants of dead animals the Komodo Dragon plays much of the same role as say a Turkey Vulture does in our ecosystem. Other organisms in the same ecosystem such as Water Buffalo provide food for these carnivorous animals.
Possible Food Chains:
Grass-> Large Herbivore-> Komodo Dragon
Grass-> Mouse->Snake-> Komodo Dragon
Human encroachment on the Komodo Dragon’s habitat and poaching of their food sources such as deer and wild pig have been a problem for the survival of the species. But the largest threat to the species, surprisingly, are volcanoes. Because of the volcanic nature of Indonesia and the South Pacific in general, lots of Komodo Dragon habitat, food sources and individual have been destroyed by eruptions and poisonous fumes.
To help protect the Komodo Dragon they have been listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable to help draw attention to these animals, also in 1980 The Komodo National Park was established by the Indonesian Government to protect the majority of the population as well as their habitat. The park encompasses all of the island of Komodo.
MY SOLUTIONS: Establish either more protected parks or increase the size of the existing park because the island of Komodo is very small in comparison to the surrounding islands that the Dragons used to inhabit. The Komodo Dragon truly deserves to be in its own, wild habitat.
The San Diego Zoo. Rep. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://
World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1996. Varanuskomodoensis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2.
www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 08 December 2011
"The Komodo Dragon - Facts and Photos." Reptile Knowledge - Reptile Information - Snakes, Lizards, Turtles. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
"Komodo Dragon." Honolulu Zoo Home Page. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
"Komodo Dragon PDF." Denver Zoo. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <http://www.denverzoo.org/downloads/dzoo_komodo_dragon.pdf