The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest lizard in the world, growing to a length of about 10 feet (3 meters) and weighing between 175 to 310 lb (80 and 140 kg). It is a member of the monitor lizard family, Varanidae.
Dragons have keen senses and are considered among the most intelligent living reptiles.
They are carnivorous, hunting 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 severe infection of wounds, caused by the some 50 different strains of bacteria in their saliva. After they bite, they release their prey to allow it to die before devouring it; this allows them to avoid injury. Dragons will fight over kills, however unlike any other known animal they are themselves immune to bacterial infection from dragon bites.
Dragons eat any animals they can catch, even animals as large as wild pigs, goats, deer, and water buffaloes and occasionally including human beings or human corpses. Over a dozen human deaths have been attributed to dragon bites in the last century, though there are reports of survivors of the resulting septicemia.
Mating occurs between May and August. The eggs are then laid in September in the ground or in tree hollows. The eggs are protected, but the hatchlings (100 g and 40 cm in length) are not and most are eaten. The ones that survive spend their first few years up in trees to avoid being eaten. During this time they mostly eat insects and smaller reptiles. Komodo Dragons take around five years to grow to 2 meters in length and can live for up to 30 years.
There are around 6,000 living Komodo Dragons, restricted to the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia, including the islands of Komodo (1,700), Rinca (1,300), Gili Motang (100) and Flores (maybe 2,000).
The Komodo monitor 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.
In order to protect the Komodo dragon, in 1980 the Komodo National Park was founded.