k is for Komodo Dragon
Komodo dragons live on a few Indonesian Islands, including the one that gives them their name.
They are extremely large, aggressive lizards, growing up to 10 feet long. New research suggests that contrary to former opinion, that they grew so large because there was no competition on their isolated islands, they are actually relics of giant lizards that died out after the Pleistocene period.
Komodo dragons are carnivores and eat mainly deer, sometimes buffalo and anything else in their way, including their own young, who retreat up trees to keep out of the way. They will attack humans on occasion, although they usually avoid them. Carrion is also consumed.
Komodos cooperate in killing large prey, which is unusual in reptiles – but a single komodo can also kill a buffalo – one bite from their mouth is usually fatal.
Not only do their mouths contain an enormous number of virulent bacteria, but they also have a venom that is discharged with the bite. The venom sacks lie in the lower jaw. Scientists are still arguing about exactly how the prey is brought to death – blood loss and shock are other factors that play a part.
Whatever the means – the prey does fall eventually, and the komodo can follow the scent of the dying prey which it tastes in the air with its tongue.
Dead animals are ripped apart with strong slicing motions of the mouth and the prey is soon eviscerated and gulped in huge chunks – even the skull. The lizard pushes the prey into its mouth sometimes by using a tree to bash it in with – even knocking trees over.
Komodo dragons are listed as vulnerable and there are under 7,000 of them left on the islands.
All material © Liz Brownlee
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- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2013
- Tagged: animal, dragon, endangered, environment, illustration, komodo dragon, nature, poetry, science, sustainability, vulnerable
It’s hard to feel sorry for those deadly creatures. I wouldn’t want to meet one. Yikes!
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It is – but they are so unlike any creature we know in the rest of the world! They stay away from people most of the time – and bring a lot of tourism and money to the people who live on the islands with them.
Liz, I’m really enjoying your poetry on this theme. We have monitor lizards here, though fortunately not really close (generally) and I find them compelling and scary and captivating. I believe they’re cousins to your Komodo and this really spoke to me. Thank you. (loved the Javan Rhino, too, btw).
Cynthia Reed bit.ly/XISATN
Thank you, Cynthia! Where do you live? We have nothing like the komodo, even remotely like the komodo! (In a small rural village in the south of England.)