So I’m finally going to write about Komodo Dragons, one of the main reasons we obviously went trekking out to the Komodo National Park. We were lucky… we saw about 15 of them on Rinca Island (because we went on the two hour trek in the morning… the best time to see them) and probably about four at Komodo Island in the afternoon, mostly near the ranger’s huts. These are vicious beasts, and we got soooo scarily close to them. At each of the islands, you have to trek with a guide, who carries a long stick with a forked end with him. But seriously. If a 3m long 80kg komodo decides he’s hungry, our 50kg early-20s scrawny Indonesian guide and his magic komodo stick was not going to do much except become a crunchy hors d’oevre.
Had to give the kids props for their optimism though I must say. Our guides were also very well trained on answering hundreds of questions from us about the dragons and other wildlife in the national park.
And one of our guides did use his stick to prod one of the dragon’s tails to wake it up, so I guess it serves a safety purpose, yeah?
We learned a lot about the dragons, but here’s a quick lesson about these freaky big carnivorous lizards for y’all.
They are the main predators on the islands where they live (Rinca and Komodo). There’s also a small population of them on Flores island. They aren’t found anywhere else in the world. They can live as long as 50 years and are the largest living species of lizards in the world. They have razor sharp teeth, strong claws and septic saliva. They’ve killed humans on a couple of occasions.
Want more? Wikipedia it.
Septic saliva action! They bite their large prey, the prey is weakened by bleeding and the infection spreading through their body from the saliva… the komodo stalks them until they die, then they all tuck in. They can survive by eating only once a month, if they get a nice big meal.
A female guards her nest. The females dig lots of deep holes with their big claws, and only lay eggs in one of the holes. The rest are decoys. Sometimes they take over the burrows of other animals to save digging time. Once the baby komodos hatch (after nine months), they have to scramble into trees and live off bugs until they are at least five years old… otherwise, the other older dragons might eat them. Brutal!
This is komodo poo! It’s white, because the komodos eat all the bones of their prey (except sometimes the skull), so they get lots of calcium, hence white poo. That’s another indication of how powerful their teeth are… they can chomp through bone!
We learned a lot more about the dragons, they are really amazingly fascinating and freaky creatures. And you can only see them in the wild in Komodo National Park, so it’s definitely worth the trip (not to mention the stunning scenery out there, the amazing snorkelling in the park, etc etc etc etc… go!!!).
If you want to go, Rinca is your best bet for spotting dragons, because it is a smaller island with a similar komodo population to Komodo Island… so they are less spread out. Also, the morning is the best time to go, because they are often out sunning themselves. Before travelling, you should check out what time of the year it is in terms of the mating cycle as well, to optimize your chances of spotting dragons.