Komodo dragons, called ‘ora’ or ‘land crocodile’ by the locals, are the world’s largest living lizards. They can grow up to 3m long and weigh up to 100kg.
Although the komodo can run briefly at speeds up to 20 kilometres per hour, its hunting strategy is based on stealth and power.
A komodo ‘smells’ by collecting air with its forked tongue and then depositing it on receptors on the roof of its mouth. Using this method, it can detect a dead animal up to 8 km away.
In 2009, scientists discovered that dragons use venom to kill their prey.
The muscles of the komodo’s jaws and throat allow it to swallow huge chunks of meat with astonishing rapidity. They can consume 80 percent of their body weight in one meal. Unlike other animals, they will swallow hair, bone, hooves and horns.
When no males are around, female dragons can fertilise their own egg cells. The spawn will always end up being male, and this suits the lizard fine because it can then mate with its own child.
Adult dragons are cannibals and 10% of their diet comprises newly-hatched dragons.
Males outnumber females by 3.4 to 1. Nobody knows why and this remains one of the big mysteries about the dragons.
They can live more than 30 years.
In Komodo Village, the residents put rocks on the graves of their loved ones to prevent the dragons from raiding the shallow graves.
Baby lizards will live in trees from the moment they are born because adult dragons can’t climb (and eat them). To avoid getting cannibalised when not hiding in the trees, the baby dragons will roll in dung, knowing the smell will repulse adult dragons. This allows the little guy to hide near a killed animal’s intestines, camouflaged in dung, waiting for a chance to take some meat for itself.