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The Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, lives mostly on the small Indonesian island of Komodo, from which its name is derived. It also appears on the islands of Padra, Gili Montang, Rinca, Gili Dasami, and Flores. It prefers open places where it can stay in the sun, like savannahs and tropical forests. It is a good swimmer which often approaches the waters and always dives deep. They often prefer to swim between the Indonesian islands, but they avoid getting close to people-inhabited areas.
It is the largest lizard in the world, a rare predator that is of interest to both zoologists and ordinary people. Its body weighs an average of 70 kg and measures 2-3 m, making it the largest lizard in the world. The largest specimen ever discovered to date measured more than 3 m and weighed more than 160 kg. This was an isolated case.
Why Are Komodo Dragons Dangerous?
The reptile tends to react aggressively if it feels cornered. So, in this case, the Komodo dragon opens its mouth, whistles, arcs its back and whips its tail.
The lizard is aggressive and dangerous to humans. Today, there are many cases of attacks on people, including fatal ones. When bitten, a reptile pulls out large pieces of meat from the victim, which causes tangible blood loss and painful shock. Given the presence of corpses in the diet of a predator, the appearance of sepsis after a bite is not unusual.
In addition, the lizard’s poison is dangerous to humans. The Komodo dragon’s venom contains special proteins that can cause paralysis of the muscular system; affect blood clotting and blood pressure, and may also cause loss of consciousness.
With an excellent sense of smell, the reptile can smell an injured animal at a distance of nine kilometers. It spends the hunt, waiting for the victim in watering places. The reptile takes down the prey with a strong tail kick or, squeezes the limbs into its teeth, immobilizing it and breaking its tendons. The Komodo dragon finishes the victim, causing it bites to the neck or trunk. Often it does not wait for the prey’s last breath, eating it alive.
The Komodo dragon’s diet includes deer; boars; sea turtles; fish; crustaceans; rodents; birds; other reptiles; goats; porcupines; cattle.
Komodo Dragons Are Quick
Komodo dragons move slowly, seemingly clumsy; however, they can run faster than a dog. They detect their prey using receptors on their forked tongue, with which they sniff from time to time, like other reptiles.
Although it is hard to believe, these species manage to reach quite high speeds of about 20 km/h, especially when motivated by catching prey. They have a long, sturdy tail, muscular, and used as a weapon when attacked or as a support when standing on their four limbs. The limbs are muscular, with sturdy paws finished with curved and sharp claws, used to dig holes to sleep in and dig up food (as they are also known for eating corpses).
Komodo Dragons Are Poisonous
For a long time, it was thought that the Komodo dragon’s bite was dangerous because of the large amount of bacteria in the animal’s mouth. Because the dragon is necrophagous, biologists believed that the animal’s mouth was full of microorganisms from rotting meat. But the truth has been discovered by Bryan Fry, a venom specialist, and researcher at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
This specialist noticed that, in fact, the Komodo dragon is one of the few venomous reptiles on the planet.
The researcher and his team found that the dragon’s venom rapidly lowers blood pressure, accelerates bleeding, and induces a state of shock in the victim, making her too weak to fight.
Some compounds in the dragon’s venom are as powerful as those found in the world’s most venomous snakes, like the continental Taipans in Western Australia.
However, unlike a snake, which injects venom into the victim through its sharp tusks, the Komodo dragon venom drains into the large wounds of the prey, caused by the reptile.
Even if it escapes from the dragon’s claws, the victim does not escape the venom that eventually takes it down. Until then, the Komodo dragon follows its prey closely, going after it with the help of its highly developed sense of smell.
The treatment of a less serious bite is quite simple. The first thing to do is to clean the wound, then you need to improvise a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. It is not advisable to suck the poison from the wound, but you must urgently go to a hospital to receive the necessary care and bring the bitten person to normal conditions.
Do Komodo Dragons Attack Humans?
Komodo dragons are large reptiles, fierce predators, capable of easily killing a human. One of the stories that were spread is that of a German tourist, who went alone on the beach to a dangerous area. Only glasses and camera were ever found.
Instead of hurting people, these creatures prefer to dig up graves and find what to eat there. As such, people bury their loved ones and put large stones on graves in places where there are large numbers of Komodo lizards.
Unfortunately, Komodo dragons are responsible for the deaths of four people in the last 41 years. There are also reports that they also attacked several people, including a tourist from Singapore, whose foot was cut off by the animal in 2017.
A fascinating fact about these creatures is their slow metabolism. Because they are able to swallow food as much as 80 % of their body weight, their digestion process helps them survive on a single meal a month.
How To Survive a Komodo Dragon attack?
Knowing how to survive a Komodo dragon attack can save your life if one becomes aggressive toward you. The encounter with these dragons can be terrifying, as they are the largest, most powerful, and most dangerous lizards in the world.
- Join a group
When a Komodo dragon hunts, it searches for an easy target, a lone target. So, when you go on a trip to see these heavy lizards, make sure you stay with other people or your group all the time. Remember that the larger your group, the less likely you are to be attacked.
- Stay on the designated path
You must remain on the designated walking routes in the park. This official hiking area tends to be very crowded, which Komodo dragons avoid. Remember that these creatures tend to hide in the bushes. If you don’t notice them and you are in a dangerous area at the same time, they will most likely attack you.
- Keep a safe distance
If you get too close to Komodo dragons, they may feel intimidated and frightened, and really, they could attack you. So, keep your distance and don’t even try to get close to one. You can still see Komodo dragons from far away, keeping a respectful distance and not attracting their attention.
- Avoid making sudden movements
Even if you are already away from a Komodo dragon, make sure you move deliberately, constantly, and slowly.
Rapid movements can confuse Komodo dragons and stimulate a response on their part. Noises and actions can make them defensive and most likely trigger their hunting instincts. Remember, try to stay still or take calculated steps if you don’t want to trigger an attack.
- Do not draw attention to yourself
Did you know that Komodo dragons have a very sharp sense of smell? Avoid wearing strong perfumes when visiting these powerful lizards. Don’t even try to put the cologne in your bag.
Also, avoid getting hurt because Komodo dragons can smell blood. And when they smell blood, they think it’s coming from their potential victim, causing them to attack.
- Do a zigzag run
If an aggressive dragon is chasing you, do your best to overcome it. So, the key to surviving a Komodo dragon attack is to keep running. If you can’t run fast, don’t worry. The dragon may approach you, but you can still overcome it if you give it your best.
Komodo dragons also run only in a straight line. They can’t easily change direction. If you zigzag back and forth, they might not be able to keep up with you and eventually stop following you.
- Climb the stairs
If you see houses or staircases, use the stairs and stay there until the reptiles pass. Komodo dragons can’t climb stairs, so you’re safe if you’re on a higher floor.
You shouldn’t try to escape by climbing a tree, as young Komodo dragons live in trees to protect themselves from predators. You can survive an attack by an adult dragon on land, but you might have trouble with a Komodo cub if you’re sitting on a tree.
- Hit it
If a Komodo dragon attacks you, use your power to fight it. However, its scales look like armor, so it might not feel anything if you hit it or hit its body. Instead, use a stone or tree branch to keep it away. Try to target its eyes, mouth, or nostrils, especially if you notice that it’s about to bite you.
- Seek medical attention immediately
If a Komodo bites you, calling for help should be your number one priority. It does not matter if the bite is large or small. Because Komodo dragons have poisonous and deadly bites, do not waste precious time.
Komodo dragons’ bites create wounds that can lead to blood thinning and poisoning. The bleeding can last for a day or two. Therefore, the sooner you receive medical assistance, the greater your chances of survival.
In Summary – Are Komodo Dragons Dangerous?
To preserve the species, the Komodo National Park was created, where tourists can familiarize themselves with the predator in its natural habitat.
Although they are a protected species, Komodo dragons are still under threat. The main dangers of their existence are human intervention in their habitat, with 4000 inhabitants on the island of Komodo. Intensive fishing, despite all the sanctions, affects marine flora and fauna with serious long-term consequences. Pollution is another important factor in the destruction of this biotope.
In short, the Komodo dragon is a dangerous predator that is best admired at a safe distance. A giant lizard is not suitable as a pet. Moreover, because of the threat of extinction, the reptile is protected by law, and the trade with lizards in Indonesia is illegal.