Is the Komodo dragon poisonous? This is one of the first questions that arise when someone begins to know a little about this incredible animal, scientifically known as Varanus komodoensis . It is a large and imposing looking reptile with a very dangerous bite. In the case of this animal, the danger of its bite, both for people and for any other animal, does not lie in the force of the bite itself, which is what happens with others such as crocodiles, but in the characteristics of the Komodo dragon saliva.
Komodo dragon characteristics
Before we focus on talking about whether the Komodo dragon is poisonous or not, we want to offer basic information about the main characteristics of the Komodo dragon , also called Komodo monitor and Komodo monster :
Where does the Komodo dragon live
The largest monitor lizards in the world live in Indonesia , specifically on the islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami. In fact, the islands that give this saury its name are also known as the Kingdom of the Dragon .
Besides, currently and for a long time, they live distributed throughout different parts of the world in captivity, always in special centers such as zoos and recovery and research centers either for studies or for their conservation, but never in homes.
Physical characteristics of the Komodo dragon
It belongs to the suborder of reptiles called Lacertilia , which are the lizards or lacertililies, and within this family of Varanidae, it is an monitor lizard and in fact it is the largest lizard that currently exists. It has an average length of between 2 and 3 meters and an average weight of about 70 kg, with males that have even reached 90 kg. They have a very long and strong tail, as well as large claws and peculiar teeth.
Specifically, it has an average of 60 serrated teeth , but they change them very often. These teeth can measure up to 2.5 cm in length but are practically completely covered by the gums, leaving only small tips visible, this causes the gums to be easily injured when biting and chewing their food, but all this has a reason that we will see later. In addition, they use their tongue to perceive a variety of stimuli such as smells and tastes.
What does the Komodo dragon eat
Komodo dragons are carnivorous saurians , so they hunt very varied animals, there have even been cases of unsuspecting or unsuspecting humans, and they are also scavengers . They eat as much of the prey as they can, often including some bones, apart from meat, offal, and skin.
Some curious facts about the diet of the Komodo dragon are their method of killing their prey that we will see later, the fact that they can eat up to 70% of their body weight in one go and that, sometimes, they are cannibals, since many times they eat other people’s offspring and, for this reason, among other reasons, they must be sheltered in wooded areas.
How the Komodo dragon reproduces
This reptile reproduces by laying eggs , they usually lay about twenty eggs in their nests at a time and the incubation period is 8 or 9 months. Here you can see a List of animals that lay eggs , apart from this great monitor.
The eggs are not incubated by the adults, they are abandoned and are incubated with the temperature that is generated within the underground nest. When they are born they are vulnerable and live in the shelter of trees and shrubs, until they reach a certain size at 2 or 3 years. They reach sexual maturity around 5 years, although they still have to grow more, and can live up to 50 years .
Another interesting fact about their reproduction is that they can do it sexually or by parthenogenesis , so females do not always need a male to reproduce.
How the Komodo dragon kills its prey
This reptile has powerful jaws, great size and strength, serrated teeth and, in addition, a saliva full of toxic and dangerous agents . Therefore, this giant monitor lizard detects its prey using its tongue, smell and sight, waits for the right moment, runs towards them and catches them with its bite and it ends up killing them.
If you are looking for images of the Komodo dragon hunting to know how it kills its prey, here below you can see one of the moment it bites a wild boar. However, keep reading the following lines to learn more about its way of hunting and feeding, you will see why the Komodo dragon is very dangerous , both for animals that are usually its prey and for people who may approach out of curiosity, as the monitor monitor It can attack to eat but also to defend itself if it feels threatened.
Do you have doubts about whether the Komodo dragon is poisonous or not? Have you heard that it kills because it has a huge amount of bacteria in its mouth? The truth is that until a few years ago it was believed that it killed simply by the force of its jaws or, that if it left a prey wounded, it would die in a few days, due to an infection produced by the immense amount of bacteria in the monitor’s saliva. , which caused septicemia or generalized infection in the blood of the hunted animal.
More recent studies carried out by PNAS or Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and in parallel by the University of Melbourne, in Australia, have revealed that this giant monitor does not only contain more than 57 strains of bacteria in its saliva , but also has substances that act like poison when inoculated into the blood of a prey. Specifically, it contains two types of substances that cause death:
- Anticoagulant substance: has the effect of preventing blood clotting. That is, this substance causes the blood to not stop flowing through the wound, a scab cannot be generated and thus the animal bleeds to death.
- Hypertensive substance: this has the effect of increasing blood pressure and blood pressure, causing the heart to pump blood faster and, in this way, the blood leaves the wound faster and the prey bleed to death faster. Thus, both substances complement each other to form an effective and efficient poison.
Therefore, this implies that the Komodo dragon IS poisonous and that it kills its prey with a combined attack between force, being able to split bones and organs, inoculation of toxic or poisonous substances that are aticoagulants and hypertensive and, finally, an enormous amount harmful bacteria. If the prey does not die from the force of the bite, it ends up dying from bleeding or from septic shock or generalized infection.
The most recent studies suggest that one of the most relevant ancestors of this reptile, the Megalania , used a similar attack with a combination of force, venom and bacteria. The Megalania , inhabited Australia about 40,000 years ago, measured 4 meters long and is considered to be the largest poisonous animal that has ever lived.
Due to its imposing characteristics, there are people who wonder what happens if you are bitten by a Komodo dragon, especially those who are thinking of traveling to Indonesia.
Although we may think that the result can change a lot depending on the size of the monitor, if it is an adult or if it is very young, and the size of the person, the truth is that little can vary. If you manage to survive the attack by escaping from the bite you are still not safe, because the poison and bacteria have already entered the blood.
Therefore, if you are bitten by a Komodo monitor and you manage to leave the place, the first thing to do is get medical attention , for example by going to an emergency center. There are known cases of adults who have survived attacks by these reptiles, but only with medical help shortly after the bite has occurred, following medical treatment that includes constant drainage of the wound, taking powerful antibiotics and several daily cures , among other care and medications.
This is a question that many people have because it is not an animal that is seen in many places in the world, except in zoos. But this is due to their distribution, since they only live in some islands of Indonesia, so they are only well known by the inhabitants of these, apart from scientists, and for this it is very common to believe that there are few and the species is in danger.