Found on a few small islands in the Indonesian archipelago, the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon, reigns as top predator in its world.    Reaching 10 feet in length and capable of weighing well over 300 pounds, the Komodo Dragon is a member of the monitor lizard family.  Local names for the giant lizard include buaja darat meaning land crocodile and Ora meaning mouth.  No doubt these names originated from the ferocious appetite and predatory nature of this reptile.  Able to consume up to 80 percent of its own body weight in a single meal, Komodo Dragons are carnivores and feed mostly on carrion but are quite able to make their own kills.  Although they can run briefly at speeds of up to 12 mph, they prefer to hunt by ambushing with stealth and power and are capable of taking large prey such as wild boar, deer, goats, water buffalo, and occasionally humans.

     The Komodo Dragon’s teeth are its most dangerous weapon.  Besides being large, curved, and serrated, they contain large numbers of bacteria, which are harbored in the teeth’s serrations due to meat residues from previous meals.  Some fifty different bacterial strains, of which at least seven are known to be highly septic, have been found in their saliva.  Any bite from one of these dragons is fatal and will kill the victim within a few days.  Komodo Dragons are immune to each other’s bite, which is of great interest to the scientific community. 

     Komodo Dragons have fairly good sight and hearing, but their sense of smell is their primary food detector.  They smell by the use of their long, yellow, forked tongues with which they gather airborne molecules and touch them to the roof of their mouths where there are special organs called Jacobson’s Organs that act as chemical analyzers.  This system, along with an undulatory walk in which the head swings from side to side, helps the dragon sense the existence and direction of odoriferous carrion from as far away as 2.5 miles when the wind is right. 

     Males maintain and defend a territory and patrol up to 1.2 miles per day.  Territories are dependent on the size of the animal.  Feeding territories extend further and are often shared with other males.  Komodo Dragons are generally solitary except during the breeding season and when feeding at carcasses.  Females lay 20 to 40 eggs in the ground, and the young hatch in about 8 months.  The young are 15 inches at hatching and spend the first year of their life living in the trees feeding on insects.  The average life span for a Komodo Dragon is around 20 years.  The Komodo Dragon is listed as an endangered species, as the total world population is around 5,000 with only 350 of them being breeding age females. 

     There is another dragon in this world besides the Komodo Dragon, and the Bible warns us about him: “The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”    “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  Revelation 12:9, 17.

David Arbour