Komodo Dragon: Key Facts

Do you know where Komodo dragons get their name? Did you know they are the largest lizards on earth, considered apex predators in their native habitats because they have no natural predators? Read on to learn about these and other Komodo dragon key facts.

Quick Facts About Komodo Dragons

Scientific Name:Varanus Komodoensis
Type of Animal:Reptile
Predator or Prey?Apex predator
Physical Description:Largest lizard on earth. Dark gray to black in color with four short, thick limbs, sharp claws, a powerful tail, and a rounded snout. Mouth contains many sharp, backwards-facing teeth and a long, snake-like tongue. Body is covered in hard, tough scales.  
Distribution:Found only on the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia, including the island of Komodo.
Habitat:Found in various habitats on their islands but prefer a hot and dry environment. Habitats include lowland, savanna, and tropical forest.
Average Size:– 7.5 to 8.5 feet long
– 150 to 200 pounds
Average Lifespan:30 years (often longer)
Diet:Opportunistic carnivore; foods include:
– Insects
– Birds and bird eggs
– Other reptiles
– Mammals (including large water buffalo)
– Juvenile Komodo dragons
– Carrion
Unique Abilities:– Komodo dragons are resistant to many strains of bacteria found in dead and decaying flesh, allowing them to eat carrion without harm.
– They have a blood-thinning venom in their teeth which allows them to bite their prey and wait for it to bleed to death before eating it.
– Juvenile Komodo dragons can climb trees to escape cannibalistic adults and other predators.
– Komodo dragons can swim up to 1,000 feet at a time.
– Komodo dragons can unhinge their jaws to fit large amounts of food in their mouth, and their stomach expands quickly as they eat. This allows them to eat up to 80 percent of their own body weight in a single meal.
– After eating such a large meal, a Komodo dragon can go for up to a month without eating again.

How Much Does a Komodo Dragon Weigh?

Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizard, and part of the reason for this distinction is that they are so heavy. In fact, many Komodo dragons can get heavier than humans.

The average weight of a Komodo dragon is between 150 and 200 pounds. Males are typically heavier than females.

According to National Geographic, some of the largest Komodo dragons can weigh up to 300 pounds!

How Big Can a Komodo Dragon Get?

If they’re hauling that much weight around, Komodo dragons must be pretty large overall, right? True again–most Komodo dragons are longer than humans are tall.

The average length of a Komodo dragon is between 7.5 and 8.5 feet and, once again, males are typically larger than females. Some of the largest Komodo dragons can grow up to 10 feet long!

Check out this video to get an idea of just how huge Komodo dragons can get.

How Did the Komodo Dragon Get Its Name?

Komodo dragons were originally native to Australia, but they eventually migrated to the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia, where they are found today.

The largest of these is the island of Komodo. Most Komodo dragons are found on this island, particularly inside Komodo National Park.

Komodo dragons are named for Komodo island because they were first discovered by scientists on this island. Long before western scientists discovered them in the early 1900s, they were spoken of in stories and legends as being massive, dragon-like creatures.


Komodo dragons are huge lizards found only on five Indonesian islands (principally Komodo) and a few select zoos around the world. They are known for their swimming abilities, their tendency to eat anything and everything, and their deadly, venomous bite.

Read also about other forest reptiles – here are our guides about rattlesnakes, tuataras, alligators.

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