5 Things You Didn’t Know About Komodo Dragons

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1)  Their saliva is mixed with a paralyzing combination of venom and bacteria.

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For decades, biologists believed that Komodo dragon saliva contained deadly bacteria, which is why it only took one bite to slowly kill their prey. However, in 2009, it was discovered that Komodo saliva not only contains harmful bacteria, but that the saliva is actually a mixture of bacteria and venom. They have venom glands near the lower jaw, and once they bite their prey once, that venom enters the bloodstream of the victim, which causes paralysis and prevents the blood from clotting, causing their victims to bleed profusely. This results in the prey becoming so weak that it can no longer move and is eventually eaten alive or dead by a hungry group of Komodo dragons.

2) Female Komodo dragons can reproduce without mating.

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Female Komodo dragons are one of the few animals who are capable of parthenogenesis, which means they can have babies without copulation with a male Komodo dragon. Instead, when sperm is not available, a select number of egg cells are capable of fertilizing one another, allowing the female dragon to lay eggs, which will hatch into baby dragons if they remain healthy during the incubation process. Komodo parthenogenesis typically occurs in zoos, where female Komodo dragons are often separated from the male dragons.

3) They are dynamically active.

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Since Komodo dragons are the largest and heaviest lizards on the planet, they get tired quickly and spend a lot of time relaxing, however, when needed, the dragons are very capable in their dynamic abilities. Komodo dragons can run up to 13mph in short bursts. They are also great swimmers, capable of swimming between the islands in Indonesia, with the longest documented swim distance of about 1,320 feet. In addition, Komodo dragons have extremely long and sharp talons on each foot, allowing them to be skillful at climbing trees. They are clearly not as easy to escape as one might think.

4) They have exceptional hunting skills.

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Komodo dragons are great hunters, and they are blessed with several hunting skills that make the job easy in addition to their venomous saliva. They have great eyesight and can spot objects as far as 985 feet away. Like snakes, Komodo dragons have forked tongues, which allow them to smell the scent of prey. Their tongues are also capable of detecting airborne, microscopic taste particles, allowing them to taste prey as far as 2 miles away before eating it. Komodo dragons have razor-sharp teeth and extremely muscular and powerful necks. Their jaws are extremely flexible, and can expand enough to swallow an entire animal whole. Sometimes, when the prey is large, Komodo dragons will ram themselves into trees to push the carcass down their throats. These extraordinary creatures also have stomachs capable of stretching enough to allow the dragons to consume 80% of their body weight in one sitting. This is why despite being smaller than some prey, Komodo dragons are fully capable of eating wild board, deer, and water buffalos whole. Adult dragons can live off of only 12 meals per year and they often eat one large meal each month. They commonly eat the entire carcass of their prey, including the bones, which they will later regurgitate once the flesh has been completely digested. They have no preference for dead or living animals, and often eat rotting animal carcasses when found. They hunt using the stealth method, often laying low and quiet until an oblivious animal walks past them, which then allows them to jump out and go for the animal’s legs.

5) They live solitary lives, but eat in groups.

Despite living solitary for the majority of their time, Komodo dragons come together to eat. During feeding, dominance mostly depends on sex and size. The larger male dragons eat first, while the smaller dragons and females eat last. The dragon that made the kill does not mind sharing with the group, as long as they eat first.

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