Komodo dragon

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The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest lizard in the world, growing to a length of 3 metres and weighing as much as 80 kg. It is a member of the monitor lizard family, Varanidae. They are carnivores and hunt live prey, with a stealthy approach followed by a sudden short charge (they can run briefly at speeds up to 20 km/h). They have a strong bite augmented by some 50 different bacterial strains in their saliva.

Mating occurs between May and August, with the eggs laid in September. The eggs are protected but the hatchlings (100 g and 40 cm in length) are not and most are eaten. They take around five years to grow to 2 metres in length and can live for up to 30 years.

There are around 6000 Komodos, restricted to a few small islands in Indonesia, including the islands of Komodo (1700), Rinca (1300), Gili Motang (100) and Flores (maybe 2000).

The Komodo was first reported by a European in 1910. The creatures were introduced to the rest of the world in a 1912 paper by Peter Ouwens, the director of the Zoological Museum at Bogor, Java.