Komodo dragons have not yet been timed in a swimming race by scientists, but they are known to be good swimmers as they can swim up to 1000 feet with no rest. In the wild, they have been observed swimming between islands.
These “living dinosaurs” seem just as at home in the water as they would on land, or even more so. They have a reputation for being great swimmers thanks to their fluid patterns and quick surges of speed.
What is a Komodo Dragon?
The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest living lizard in the world. It is a type of monitor lizard, which is a group of lizards that also includes the water monitor. Komodo dragons are native to Indonesia and can be found on the islands of Rinca, Flores, Komodo, and Gili Motang.
Also called the ‘komodo monitor,’ they can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) in length and weigh up to 149 kilograms (330 pounds). A full-grown Komodo dragon is the size of an average human being. They have long, powerful tails, and can turn their necks quickly. Their tongues are forked and are yellow. Adult Komodo dragons usually have a drab, uniform coloration, while juveniles often sport brightly-colored patterns.
Males, on average, tend to be larger and bulkier than females. In addition, the arrangement of scales near the cloaca (a body opening for eliminating wastes) is different between genders. Other than those features, it is hard to figure out the sex of a Komodo dragon just by looking at it. Studies show that even the Komodo dragons get confused about the sex of other Komodo dragons.
How Often Do Komodo Dragons Swim?
Komodo dragons don’t spend a lot of time in the water but are good swimmers due to their webbed feet and large tail that serves as a paddle. In the wild, they are mostly found on land, except when they need to travel between islands.
Studies have shown that Komodo dragons rarely travel far from their home range and they seem to have a good memory of their surroundings.
How Fast Can a Komodo Dragon Run?
Komodo dragons can run as fast as 20 km/h (12 miles per hour), making them hard to escape from if they are chasing you.
Where Do Komodo Dragons Live?
These huge reptiles prefer living in dry and hot tropical forests, but they can also be found in savannas, woodlands, and grasslands with little to no elevation.
They are known to conserve heat in their bodies, which is especially important for Komodo dragons because they are ectotherms, meaning that they cannot generate their body heat and must rely on external sources to maintain their body temperature. They dig holes for refuge which can be up to 3 meters deep.
What Do Komodo Dragons Eat?
Komodo dragons are carnivores (meat-eaters). In the wild, they eat mostly carrion (dead animals), but they will also attack and eat large prey, such as rodents, pigs, snakes, birds, deer, and water buffalo.
After blending in with their surroundings, they wait for potential prey to come close. With excellent vision, they can see objects from up to 300 meters (985 feet) away, making it easy for them to spot a potential meal. When the prey is close enough, it will leap out and attack with its teeth and claws.
The bacteria in their mouths release a venom that lowers blood pressure and causes heavy bleeding, usually resulting in the victim’s death. They will eat the entire animal as it can consume 80 percent of its body weight in one single meal.
How Do Komodo Dragons Mate?
Males would fight over females by biting their limbs and pinning them down as females are antagonistic towards males.
They sometimes lick, scratch, or rub their chins on the female. Copulation begins when the male inserts hemipenes into the female’s cloaca. Mating season is usually between May and August. In August and September, female komodo dragons will lay their eggs and each clutch reaches up to 30 eggs.
If there are no males around, the female could still reproduce as a process called parthenogenesis and still lay eggs. The incubation period takes around 8 months.
Do Komodo Dragons Attack Humans?
Komodo dragons are not typically aggressive toward humans, but there have been a few instances of them attacking people.
It is important to remember that these animals are wild and should be treated with caution and respect. If you see a Komodo dragon in the wild, do not approach it and stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away.
What Is the Lifespan of a Komodo Dragon?
Komodo dragons can live up to 30 years in the wild. However, more studies need to be done to determine the lifespan of captive Komodo dragons.
Are Komodo Dragons Endangered?
Komodo dragons are currently listed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. Human-induced climate change and agricultural expansion are quickly destroying natural habitats, putting these species at risk of extinction.
A way to help endangered animals like the komodo dragon is to donate to or volunteer with wildlife organizations that are working to protect them and practicing ecotourism.
Komodo dragons can swim, but they don’t do it often. Instead, they prefer to stick close to their homes on land. As the largest lizard in the world, they are an impressive sight to behold. Although they may look dangerous, they are not typically aggressive toward humans. These amazing reptiles are currently endangered so the next time you see one, make sure to give them the space they need!