The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is a large reptile in the Varanidae family of monitor lizards. It is an ectotherm varanid.
The Komodo Dragon has sharp teeth and a long, yellow, deeply-forked tongue.
It eats invertebrates, birds, and mammals, such as monkeys. It uses venom to kill its prey, because the toxins stop the prey’s wound from clotting. The animal loses blood pressure and lots of blood. The Komodo Dragon takes a bite out of an animal, even a large animal, and the animal dies within a few days.
The Komodo Dragon can eat a monkey or a deer whole. So, why does it need a long tongue?
It uses its long tongue to detect, taste, and smell its food. This is called vomeronasal sense – instead of using its nostrils, it uses an organ called the Jacobson’s organ, which is located in the nasal cavity abover the roof of its mouth.
The vomeronasal system is very sensitive. The Komodo Dragon sticks out its tonge to gather smells, scents and odours in the air. It brings its tongue into its mouth and touches it to the Jacobson’s organ. And that is how it knows what animal is nearby and whether it is edible.
Some other reptiles that have a vomeronasal system are snakes, salamanders, and some sea turtles.
The Komodo Dragon is native to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang. It prefers hot, dry locations in open grasslands.
Location of photographs: London Zoo, United Kingdom
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM