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The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest lizard in the world, and with its ancient appearance and evocative name, the Komodo conjures up the stuff of legends. The heavy-set body of the Komodo dragon is long with stocky legs and a long muscular tail; the scaly skin is greyish-brown all over. Dragons from the island of Flores however, are earthen-red in colour with a yellow head. The juvenile Komodo dragon has a more striking pattern with very variable combinations of bands and speckling in yellow, green, grey and brown. The Komodo dragon has a well-developed sense of smell and its long, forked yellow tongue resembles the mythical, fire-breathing dragons of its name. Adult Komodo dragons can kill prey as large as deer and water buffalo, and this species can eat up to 80% of its own body weight at one time. The Komodo dragon is venomous, and even if prey escapes it will rapidly succumb to shock and blood loss caused by the venom. Male Komodo dragons compete for females by wrestling, rearing up on their hind legs while supported by the muscular tail.



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