Spotting a lizard on your wall may have been a very frightening experience for you, especially when you were a child. It may have made you think twice before going into the kitchen or bathroom until some brave soul managed to get it to scurry away. If a small, harmless lizard could cause that much fear, imagine the terror you would experience if you were to come face to face with the biggest lizard in the world, the Komodo Dragon. Here is more information about this huge, scary lizard.
The Biggest Lizard – Komodo Dragon
The Komodo Dragon is the biggest lizard in the world, averaging 2.5 meters in length and weighing 50-70 kilograms. The largest one on record was over 3 meters in length and weighed a whopping 166 kilograms.
Komodo Dragons have scales that assist with their sense of touch and vary in color from brown or grey to black. As the dragon gets older, its color tends to darken. They have a very strong sense of smell, which enables them to locate carrion several kilometers away. Their forked tongue is used to both taste and smell their prey. The dragon's senses of hearing and sight are not well developed.
The features of the world's biggest lizard have very sharp claws and 60 razor sharp teeth. These, along with their strong bones and jaws, are very resourceful for capturing and eating their prey. Their diet consists of deer, snakes, boar, turtles, and any other animal they find. They will also eat carrion. These lizards strike quickly and tend to tear into their prey immediately. Their saliva contains nearly 50 different types of bacteria, so even animals that manage to get away will likely die from infection shortly after being attacked.
Because of the size of this biggest lizard, they do not have natural predators and are at the top of the food chain. Their greatest threats include humans and other dragons.
Mating and Reproduction
Although these large lizards normally travel alone, they sometimes form groups when they hunt, or can be found in pairs during mating season, which is from May until August. Once a mate is found, they usually remain monogamous and remain in a long term relationship with their mate. Females generally lay approximately 20 eggs in September and then she leaves them to fend for themselves. It is also possible for females to lay fertilized eggs without having mated, in which case all of the offspring will be male. When she mates with a male, the offspring can be of either sex.
The Komodo Dragon can be found in hot grasslands located near volcanos and without water nearby. They live on the islands of Indonesia, including Gili Montag, Gili Dasami, Rinca, Komodo, and Flores.
There are only 4 to 5 thousand Komodo Dragons living today because their natural habitats have been destroyed over time as a result of fire, volcanos, and human population. It is because of these relatively low numbers that it is not common for people to come in contact with one in the wild.
To discover more about the Komodo Dragon, watch the following video:
Other Large Reptiles
Reptiles can be found worldwide and can include big lizards and dangerous turtles. Although some are found in the wild, others are contained within zoos. Some large reptiles are nearing extinction while the numbers of others continue to flourish. Some of the largest reptiles may weigh in at a whopping 2000 pounds, nearly as heavy as a car. Some are non-threatening and eat only jellyfish or other small species whereas others are aggressive and threatening to humans.
As the largest living reptile in the world, the Saltwater Crocodile grows to sizes of up to 6.7 meters in length and can weigh up to 2000 kilograms. These crocodiles have the widest distribution of any other crocodile and can be found in the southeastern area of Asia, northern Australia, and eastern Africa. Although normally quite lethargic and able to go a long time without food, when they attack they are fast and precise. Their diet consists of whatever they can find, including fish, birds, and large mammals such as boar, deer, kangaroos, jackals, snakes, lizards, buffalo, domestic livestock and pets, and even humans.
Tuatara are reptiles native to the islands off of New Zealand that resemble lizards and grow up to 80 centimeters in length and generally weigh up to 1.3 kilograms. They have a spiny crest on their backs, two rows of teeth on the top and one on the bottom, and feature a photoreceptive third eye. They are able to hear even though they do not have a visible ear. These reptiles are physiologically primitive and share characteristics with amphibians, fish and birds. Their diet consists of seabirds, bugs, frogs, bird's eggs, lizards and chicks. They do not back down when threatened and will bite if approached.
The Leatherback Turtle is the largest and heaviest turtle in the world, growing up to 2.2 meters in length and up to 700 kilograms in weight. It is also the fastest known reptile with the ability to swim at speeds of up to 35 kilometers an hour. Unlike other turtles, it does not have a shell but is instead covered by oily flesh and skin. The Leatherback's diet consists nearly entirely of jellyfish, which helps to control the distribution of these fish in the oceans. This turtle has a wider distribution than any other and can be found in each of the world's tropical and subtropical oceans.
The Python Reticulatus is the longest reptile found in the world, and can grow up to nearly 7 meters in length and weigh over 75 kilograms. Native to the islands of Southeast Asia, these pythons are exceptional swimmers and reside in grasslands, rain forests, woodlands, rivers, lakes and streams. They kill their prey using constriction and are not venomous. Their diet consists of birds and mammals including rodents, pigs, primates, and occasionally stray dogs, cats and chickens. Although it is rare for them to attack humans, there are several incidents on record where they have preyed on humans for food.