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The Komodo dragon's encounter with the scuba divers has made them quite famous. With only 4,000 left in the wild, the chance that we will ever encounter one outside of a Zoo is very slim. However, these pre-historic looking creatures are fascinating, and we thought it would be fun to explore them further.
While called a dragon, it is actually a lizard, albeit the largest one in its family. They can grow up to 10ft long and weigh as much as 154 lbs. Their gigantic size has been attributed to the fact that they are the only carnivorous animals on the islands they inhabit and are at the top of the food chain - that is they never get eaten by anyone. Also, Komodo's have a relatively long lifespan - of up to 30 years allowing them to grow.
The Komodo dragons are known to eat any animal they can find, on land and sea. They are very aggressive and attack animals large and small with no fear. Even when they don't kill the animal instantly, their saliva contains so much poison, that the animal will eventually die from the bite.
As you will see in the second video below, they are capable of swallowing small animals in their entirety. Once they do that, they retreat to a sunny place to digest it. The bones and fur of the animals are regurgitated once the digestion process is over.
For larger animals, they attack in groups. Earlier this year, a wildlife cameraman caught on tape an ambush by these giant pre-historic looking creatures on a large buffalo. Five of them lunged at it from different angles, bringing it down. They then started to bite into it with their sharp teeth. As the scent of blood permeated the air, more dragons joined them, and soon there were about twenty of them feeding on the poor buffalo. This documentary will be screened on BBC's new series "Life," later this year.
While attacks on humans have been rare, Komodo dragons in the wild, are equally capable of attacking them as well. Recently, an eight-year-old boy was attacked by one in the Komodo Islands, and he died a few days later from the venomous saliva. As you will see in the video, the dragons that are brought up in captivity are a little less aggressive, but equally dangerous.
The scuba divers did get really lucky that the one dragon they encountered didn't attack them. For though they may have been able to fight it off, Rinca Island has a population of about 1,300, and if a few more had shown up, there would have been nothing the five could have done. What do you think about these fascinating animals - let us know by adding your comments below.
sources: Daily Mail, Wikidpedia.org, bagheera.com