January 16th is Appreciate A Dragon Day, but since dragon’s only exist in myths and legends, let’s take a look at the next best thing: the Komodo dragon!
Zookeepers with a Komodo dragon at a zoo in Indonesia. (Akhmad Fuadi/AFP/Getty Images)
Komodo dragons are a type of monitor lizard. They can grow to be three metres in length (almost as long as a small car!) and weigh up to 135 kilograms, which is about as heavy as a panda bear. Even though they are so big, Komodo dragons can be very fast when they are hunting prey.
A tourist on Komodo Island photographs life-size Komodo dragon sculptures. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)
Komodo dragons live on a small island in Indonesia called Komodo Island. Komodo isn’t the only island where the dragons live in Indonesia. There are protected parks where the Komodo dragons live on the islands of Rinca and Flores as well as a few other smaller islands. There are around 3,000 dragons in total, in the wild, on these islands. About 2,000 people live on Komodo Island too.
A Komodo dragon using its deadly bite on a pumpkin. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)
For a long time it was believed that the mouth of the Komodo dragon was so filled with bacteria that if an animal was bitten it would become infected and slowly die. New research shows that the dragons have venom in their bite that cause their prey to bleed to death after they are bitten! Komodo dragons usually eat deer, pigs, goats and even smaller Komodo dragons. They can eat their body weight in one meal!
The Komodo dragon's forked tongue. (Steve Finn/Getty Images)
Although Komodo dragons can’t hear or see very well, they make up for it in the smell department. Like other reptiles, they use their forked tongues to smell instead of their noses. It is believed that Komodo dragons can smell a dead animal to eat from four to ten kilometres away!
A Komodo’s tail is as long as its body and is very strong. They will use their tails as a weapon to protect themselves, but also to catch prey. The tail of the Komodo is so strong it can knock down large wild boars and deers! They will also swing their tails to scare off other dragons or animals if they feel they are in danger.