Largest Lizards Live on Indonesian Islands

October 05, 2012
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For an nature travel enthusiast thinking of going on a Bali cruise, a stop at Rinca and Komodo Islands to spot the famed dragons is a must! Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards in the world, and only found on a few islands in Indonesia. Aside from zoos, there's nowhere else in the world where you can see these massive reptiles.

Male Komodo dragons can grow to be as long as 10 feet, but are typically closer to eight feet in length, which is probably why they've earned the nickname of "land crocodiles." You can tell if one of these lizards is a female because they are usually smaller than males, less than eight feet in length.

Since they are so gigantic, Komodo dragons are also pretty heavy — a fully grown male lizard can weigh close to 200 pounds, and females typically weigh around 150 lbs. Don't be fooled by their short, bowed legs — these cold-blooded predators can move pretty quickly when they smell prey.

Komodo dragons have a diet that consists strictly of meat, but that's where their pickiness ends. They will chomp down on anything from carrion, deer and pigs to large creatures like water buffalo and even humans — so keep your distance. These lizards will wait in hiding for their prey to come near. When they get within striking distance, the Komodo dragons will jump out and attack, even running as fast as 11 miles per hour to catch their dinner.

They have teeth like sharks — plentiful and extremely sharp — and their mouths are swarming with bacteria that act as sort of a secondary killer. If the dragon's prey escapes death in the initial attack, the bacteria will finish the job. It's a good thing they've got a backup plan, because these animals, while large, are not terribly deft when it comes to making a successful attack.

Adults stick to the ground in savannah and arid forest areas on their islands, but when they're young, they stick to the trees, hunting insects and other small prey until they're big enough to survive on the ground. So, when you're there, don't forget to check tree branches overhead. You might get to see young Komodo dragons that are much smaller and less threatening than adults.