This article aims to answer the question what do Komodo dragons eat. We will also discuss important information regarding the Komodo dragon diet.
Heavy, strong and deadly, the Komodo dragon has been a subject for fascination among scientists. They’re so notorious they remind us of a mythical creature – the dragon. And that’s probably the reason why we call them dragons.
These large lizards dominate their ecosystems with their ferocity and appetite. In this article, you will learn the general characteristics of the Komodo dragon and what these large lizards eat.
What are Komodo dragons?
The Komodo dragon, also known as Komodo monitor (Varanus komodoensis), is a species of giant and massive lizards found in the following Indonesian islands – Komodo, Flores, Rinca, Padar, and Gili Motang.
It, along with the monitor lizard belongs to the family Varanidae. It is the biggest lizard species, growing up to 10 feet or 3 meters in length, and weighing to a maximum of around 70 kgs (150 lb).
As large lizards, Komodo dragon predators have very long tails, sturdy limbs, and strong, responsive necks. Adult Komodo dragons have a nearly-uniformed rock colored features with huge and distinctive scales. Young dragons can show more vibrant color markings and patterns. They have yellow, forked tongues that match their draconian name.
The muscles inside the Komodo’s throat and jaws enable it to swallow large chunks of food with incredible speed. Numerous moveable joints, like the intra-mandibular hinge, open the lower jaw remarkably wide.
Its stomach can expand quickly, allowing an adult Komodo to eat 80% of its own weight in one meal, which probably explains why some of these creatures are quite heavy. Once threatened, Komodo dragon will gag its stomach to reduce its weight and escape.
Although male Komodos generally grow bigger than the females, there are no apparent bodily marks that differentiate both sexes. However, one subtle indication does exist – the slight difference in how the scales in front of the cloaca (digestive, urinary, and reproductive opening) are arranged.
Determining a Komodo dragon’s sex can be difficult even for biologists. Even the animals themselves seem to have trouble figuring out who to mate with.
What Do Komodo Dragons Eat?
What do Komodo dragons eat? Komodo dragons are carnivorous lizards. They love to eat carrion (rotting flesh of a dead animal); or “meat.” Komodos eat all carrion types.
Aside from carrion, they also eat living prey. They consume invertebrates, other reptiles, baby Komodos, and sometimes even their own youngsters. Birds and their eggs, mammals like pigs, wild boar, monkeys, and goats also belong to the Komodo dragon food.
Deer, water buffalos, and horse are also included in their diet. They prey on snakes and even livestock such as cattle and sheep. Sometimes, an adult Komodo dragon attacks a human being.
Aside from being carnivores, Komodo dragons are also cannibals. Besides eating younger Komodos, they also prey on old, weak, and sick Komodos. A Komodo dragon diet consists of 10% their own species and 90% other sources.
Komodo dragons eating habits
Now that we know what do komodo dragons eat, let us also discuss this massive dragon’s feeding habits. Komodo dragons can see at a maximum distance of 985 feet or 300 meters. So the sense of sight plays a crucial role in hunting. Their eyes have become well adapted to perceiving movement in the environment.
Their retinas, though, only have cones and they are not well adapted at seeing under dim conditions. Their hearing range is much smaller than that of human beings. As a result, the lizard can’t hear low-pitched sounds or high-pitched ones.
When hunting, the Komodo dragon catches it prey (a deer in this case) through its feet, knocking the prey off balance. But when hunting smaller prey, it will go straight for the neck. The basic strategy of the Komodo is simple – smash the target and rip it to pieces.
Strong muscles drive its strong claws to accomplish some of the deeds, but its teeth are its main weapon. These are huge, serrated, curved teeth that can tear any prey efficiently. If the deer is unable to flee, the Komodo will tear it apart.
Once the prey is incapacitated, the Komodo may detach itself from it for a short rest. Now that the deer is severely injured, the Komodo launches the ultimate blow, which is a belly attack. The prey bleeds to death fast, and the predator starts to feed.
If the prey is just right, the Komodo dragon can swallow it whole. The perfect prey for the Komodos is a goat because of certain physical attributes: flexible skull, expandable stomach, and loosejaws. After feeding, the Komodo dragon basks under the sun to digest the food in its stomach.
They need to digest quickly because undigested food can be poisonous to them. The only parts they avoid are the contents of the intestines and stomach. They never consume the herbs and vegetables the goat has eaten, and this shows how carnivorous Komodo dragons really are.
The tooth serrations of the Komodo harbor tiny bits of meat from its last meal, either carrion or fresh prey. This residue supports huge amounts of bacteria. Researchers have discovered 60 different strains of bacteria; seven of which are septic.
So if the prey tries to flee at this point, its victory may only be short-lived as Komodo bite infections poison the victims in just a week. Aside from the bacteria in their mouth and Komodo dragon saliva, experts have recently claimed that Komodo dragons have a “venom” gland in their lower jaw.
So aside from the bacterial infection, the venom also stops blood clotting within the prey’s circulatory system.
On the other hand, the Komodo dragons bite to its fellow Komodo is not deadly. Komodos wounded in mating battles with their rivals appear to be immune from the otherwise lethal venom and bacteria. Biologists and other experts are currently looking for antibodies found in the Komodo’s blood that could save them in case of a bite.
The Komodo dragon is the largest living lizard on the planet. According to verified records, the largest specimen reached 10.3 feet (3.13 meters) in length and weighed 166 kilograms (366 pounds). Usually, the biggest wild Komodos weigh approximately 70 kilograms (154 pounds).
Where do Komodo Dragons Live?
So we now have a complete picture of the Komodo dragon’s feeding behavior, let’s talk about their habitat. The Komodos are limited to a couple of Indonesian islands such as Flores, Padar and Rintja, and certainly the island of Komodo, where it was first documented. Their habitats are the tropical savannah forests, but they live widely over the Indonesian islands from beaches to ridges throughout the Komodo dragon life cycle.
Komodo dragon facts
The Komodo dragon has two glands in its lower jaw that secrete numerous toxic enzymes. However, the biological importance of these proteins is widely disputed among experts, but it has been shown that the glands do secrete anti-coagulants.
The animal’s group behavior when hunting is rather extraordinary in the reptilian world.