Komodo Dragon – Species Spotlight

Komodo Dragon: Varanus komodoensis

Komodo dragon

The Komodo dragon is well-known for being the world’s largest lizard, with some weighing well over 100kg, and growing up to 3m long. Yet, it can only be found on a select few Indonesian islands.

The lizard is a carnivore known to prey upon large ungulates, such as pigs and deer, although they are also frequently seen eating from carcasses they have not directly killed. They may also feed on carcasses in groups. Their saliva is also known to contain bacteria, and because of this it is has been debated that the bacteria may play a role in killing prey via sepsis, when it can subsequently be eaten, although the actual method behind this process is debated and it has even been suggested that the bacteria spreads between lizards (Bull et al, 2010). However a more recent theory is that the prey animals are more likely to bleed out, possibly assisted by a venom, than to suffer death as a result of a rapid infection (Goldstein et al, 2013).

Threats

The Komodo dragon is listed as vulnerable. Although it is a dominant predator in its landscape, it has still attained a threatened status due to poaching and natural disasters.

 

References

Bull, J.J., Jessop, T.S. & Whitely, M. 2010, “Deathly Drool: Evolutionary and Ecological Basis of Septic Bacteria in Komodo Dragon Mouths”, PLoS ONE, Vol. 5, No. 6. Available online at: < http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0011097>

Goldstein, E.J.C., Tyrrell, K.L., Citron, D.M., Cox, C.R., Recchio, I.M., Okimoto, B., Bryja, J. & Fry, B.G. 2013, “Anaerobic and Aerobic Bacteriology of the Saliva and Gingiva from 16 Captive Komodo Dragons (Varanus komodoensis): New Implications for the Bacteria as Venom Model”, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 262-272.

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