Rather than resembling the fire-breathing dragons of fairy tales, Komodo dragons are in fact the world's largest and heaviest lizards. They are found in the harsh climate of Komodo National Park, Rinca and some parts of Flores Island in Indonesia, but there are indications that they originated from Australia some three million years ago, and have evolved from giant monitor lizards from there.
While they may not breathe fire, Komodo dragons can still do a serious amount of damage with their mouths alone. They have venom glands that are loaded with toxins and can stop the victim's blood from clotting and induce shock with just a bite. Therefore all they have to do is lie in wait for passing prey and pounce on them with their sharp claws and shark-like teeth. Even if the prey then gets away, it won't be for long as the venom will work its magic and the Komodo dragon's excellent sense of smell (which they use their tongues for rather than their noses) help them track down any escapees.
Komodo dragons aren't too fussy when it comes to meal times, being the dominant predators on the islands they inhabit. Their diet consists largely of carrion, but they also hunt deer, pigs, and even large water buffalo or humans. They have also been known to eat small members of their own species. Tasty.
Where to See Them
As the name suggests, Komodo dragons can be seen in Komodo National Park, which lies about 250 miles east of Bali. Head to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca and some parts of Flores to see these unusual lizards in their natural habitat. We can arrange for you to pry on these predators on guided treks on Komodo and Rinca islands, as well as day trips to the islands by boat from mainland Flores. Or spend your days island hopping around the park by luxury yacht.
Jacqui Brooks, Asia Specialist
Komodo dragons have a fearsome reputation, somewhat deservedly, but seeing these giant lizards in the wild is like nothing else.
- 10 feet - Average length of a Komodo dragon
- 11 miles per hour - Fastest they can run in short bursts
- 30 years - Average lifespan in the wild