what do komodo dragons eat

What Do Komodo Dragons Eat? – Komodo Dragon Diet

November 6, 2017
3 mins read

Do you want to know what do komodo dragons eat in its natural habitat? Komodo dragons are opportunistic hunters. They are pure carnivores. Dragons are the heaviest lizards in the world. Komodo dragons have varied diet perhaps due to their greedy nature. Komodos will consume just about anything—from a tiny insect to an adult goat. Adult lizards often take on larger prey but hatchlings are thought to rely on smaller insects and lizards. Komodos are known to eat as much as 80% of their entire body weight at one time. They have the ability to detect the smell of wild pigs 10 kilometers away. An adult dragon once killed a water buffalo weighed as much as 320 kilograms. Let us learn more about komodo dragon diet.

Learn more: What do lizards like to eat?

What Do Komodo Dragons Eat in the Wild?

Komodo dragons are not only the largest of its family—they are the most carnivorous of all lizards. Dragons feed on a variety of animal species. Dragons are ambush predators. While they typically live alone dragons eat in groups. Komodos not only prey on live animals but also the carrion which qualifies them as voracious eaters.

Young dragons will eat beetles, ants, and grasshoppers. They live in trees until they reach adulthood. Hatchlings must spend most of their time on trees for they are so small that adult dragons can easily kill them. During their arboreal lifestyle they find bird eggs, small lizards, and insects.

Komodo dragon’s diet also includes megapodes, skinks, rodents such as shrews and rats, as well as geckos, monkeys, sea turtle eggs, snakes, and birds. According to a research komodos have highly venomous glands in its jaws. When the dragon bites its prey it injects such venom which causes low blood pressure. It implies that the animal once bitten cannot escape death. The injured prey will eventually die because of excessive blood loss and low blood pressure.

Larger prey also makes up the essential part of their diet. It includes sunda deer, water buffalo, large snakes, and wild boar. Adult komodos are cannibals in that they also consume smaller komodos not very frequently though. They are most likely to consume 1 to 6 year-old deer. Dragons capture deer by surprising them at shelter sites.

Read More: Komodo Dragon Facts for Kids

what do komodo dragons eat
Komodo dragon has got snake-like tongue. ©VLADIMÍR ČECH

The study shows that the adult komodos hunt at least one large animal such as boar or deer once every month. After killing larger prey the dragon will eat only rats or birds. Adult dragons rely on deer for 50% of their diet. When in group the biggest dragon usually dictates the terms of engagement. The smaller komodos eat only if the bigger dragon allows it and when it finishes eating. It is entirely up to the dominant male dragon if it wants to eat the whole or share it with others.

Unlike many other lizards the komodos have forked tongue resembling snake’s which means that it doesn’t have tastebuds. She uses her tongue to sense food by continuously flicking in and out 7 cm into the air. The lizard then carries all the odor molecules into the vomeronasal organ.

Komodo dragons have powerful bite force for their jaws get closed very quickly once the prey is stuck inside. They swallow the entire animal if the prey is small but if it is bigger the dragons will thrash it to into pieces. Komodos usually swallow smaller animals with their head first.

The tongue structure of komodos is quite similar to that of snakes. Komodo’s tongue is fixed to the hyoid apparatus which helps the dragon to swallow the prey almost the size of its own. During swallowing the komodo pushes the prey down the throat whereas strong flexible jaws move forward to overcome it. Also the sideward movements of neck muscles help the food to move through the esophagus.

Unlike any other predator the komodo dragons can eat up to 2.5 kilograms of meat in one minute. Once dragons finish the meal they drink water in excess quantity. The komodo’s stomach is highly efficient in digesting food. It takes only 26 hours for dragon to digest 70 – 90% of the food. But the speedy digestion depends on the temperature. If conditions are not so ideal and the dragon feels a little stress then probably it takes 4 – 5 days to completely digest the meal. The undigested food is discharged in the form of gastric pellets. The food is likely to include claws, teeth, feathers, hairs, hooves, and bones.

What Do Baby Komodo Dragons Eat?

Baby dragons are not powerful enough to defend themselves against predators therefore they live in trees—at least in the first 2 years. The juvenile’s diet thus consists of small insects and small lizards that live in trees too. The baby komodos will come to the ground only when their parents are there to look after them. Baby komodos likely consume geckos, eggs, small mammals, and bird eggs.

What Do Komodo Dragons Eat – Video


Vidal, John (12 June 2008). “The terrifying truth about Komodo dragons”. London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2008.

Chris Mattison (1992) [1989]. Lizards of the World. New York: Facts on File. pp. 16, 57, 99, 175. ISBN 0-8160-5716-8.

I am a contributing author and co-founder of animalsanswers.com. Every now and then i find myself hooked to my laptop researching and trying to discover new species of animals.

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