Search This Blog

Monday, October 21, 2013

Species Fact Profile: Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis)

Komodo Dragon
Varanus komodoensis (Ouwens, 1912)

Range:  Indonesia (Komodo, Rinca, Flores)
Habitat: Monsoon Forest, Savannah
Diet: Carrion, Ungulates, Snakes, Lizards, Rodents
Social Grouping: Solitary (may congregate around food sources)
Reproduction: Mating season is May-June; males compete for access to females.  In July and August, the female lays about 25 eggs in a depression, which hatch after a 9 month incubation period.  Females are sexually mature at 9 years, males at 10 years.  Parthenogensis (females reproducing in the absence of a male) has been observed in zoos.
Lifespan: 50 Years (Maximum)
Conservation Status: IUCN Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I

  • The world’s largest living species of lizard, males can (in rare cases) grow more than 3 meters long and weigh up to 90 kilograms (females are usually smaller, weighing less than 50 kilograms)
  • The long, heavy-set body has stocky legs and a muscular tail; the grey-brown scales of the adults are reinforced with small pieces of bone (called osteoderms), while juveniles are yellow, gray, green, and brown.
  • Komodo dragons will often seize their prey from an ambush position; large prey animals are allowed to escape, with the dragons following it and waiting for the prey to bleed to death (secretions from the bite prevent blood from clotting and cause infection)
  • Voracious eaters, they are capable of consuming 80% of their body weight in one sitting
  • They are a famous example of island gigantism (island species growing much larger than their mainland counterparts); one theory suggests that the dragons evolved to feed on the now-extinct dwarf elephant, Stegodon
  • Juveniles are at risk of cannibalism from adults, and spend their first year of life in the trees
  • They are considered very intelligent; zoo specimens tame easily, engage in play behavior, and learn to recognize their individual keepers
  • On rare occasions, they have been documented to attack, kill, and eat humans
  • The species was not documented by western science until the 1910's' the first specimens appeared in European zoos in 1917
  • The species is threatened by habitat loss and the loss of its prey species (poaching of the deer they feed on) - it is no longer present on the island of Padar

No comments:

Post a Comment