With razor sharp teeth and toxic saliva that can fell a buffalo, ZSL London Zoo's pair Komodo dragons are formidable predators.
The largest living lizard can be up to 3m and weigh 80kg.
- The only lizard species to hunt and kill prey larger than itself and larger than it can swallow whole.
- It is the top predator in its environment (other than man) which is unusual for a reptile.
- Komodo dragons prey on snakes and lizards (including smaller Komodo dragons) domestic animals such as chickens, ducks, cats and dogs, pigs, goats as well as deer and water buffalo. Has been known to attack and eat people.
- Komodo dragon saliva contains over 50 species of bacteria and is virulently toxic. Dragons kill large prey by rushing from ambush along game trails, biting at legs and tendons, maiming the animal and then trailing the injured animal until septicaemia sets in and kills it.
- Baby dragons live mostly in trees for the first 2-4years to avoid being eaten by larger dragons.
- Eggs take 5-7 months to hatch.
- Skin is scaly like other reptiles but each scale contains a small point of bone, called an osteoderm, making it very tough like amour plating.
- Threatened through habitat loss, from competition with man for food, woodland clearance and fires as well as occasional poaching and persecution.
- Males demonstrate ritual combat to establish a dominance hierarchy by wrestling on their hind legs.