Monitor Lizards including the Monstrous “Kimono Dragon”

Otherwise known as the Komodo Dragon

 

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:

Length: up to 10 ft.

Weight: up to (and exceeding) 350 lbs.

DIET:

Almost anything they can overcome. Preferred foods include small mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, bird and reptile eggs. Young and smaller species eat insects; large species may feed on carrion.

BEHAVIOR:

Escape is the main defence. Will run, burrow, swim or climb to elude an enemy. If cornered, a monitor will rise up on its legs, inflate its body, hiss and lash with its tail. This behaviour constitutes a bluff and if it fails the monitor will employ teeth and claws.

ADAPTATION:

As a group monitors are unspecialized. Versatility is the key to their success. Most species can run, burrow, swim and climb. The snake-like body is supported by strong legs, each equipped with 5 well developed claws which aid in burrowing, climbing and defence. A protective bony sheath encasing the brain enable the monitors to swallow large prey without damaging the brain. Their teeth are long, sharp and backwardly curved. The long, whip-like tail has no fracture point and there is no regeneration. It is used both as offence and defence and as the propelling force when swimming.

BREEDING & GROWTH:

Oviparous. 7-35 leathery eggs are usually laid in pits in the ground and covered with sand or decaying vegetation. Arboreal species may lay eggs in hollow trees. Young are born with intricate patterns of spots and bands which become obscure with maturation. Little or no sexual dimorphism. Life span of larger species approximately 15 years.

STATUS:

Man is the main enemy. the flesh and eggs are prized as food. They are killed as pests because they often prey on man's smaller domestic animals. The medium-sized and larger species are second only to the crocodilians in the quantity of their leather and are slaughtered by the thousands for their hides.

 

RELATED:

Alligator Lizard
Skinks

The Komodo's main food sources are deer, boars, goats, pigs and, in Loki's case, frozen rats. The dragon can ingest 80 percent of its body weight in one sitting. It breathes fire of sorts. Its saliva is toxic and the animals it does not kill right away die days later from their wounds. The Komodo follows them to eventually feed on the carcass.

Komodo facts

Sex: Males grow to up to 9 feet long. An exceptionally large male can weigh as much as 550 pounds after a big meal. Females are smaller, growing up to 7 1/2 feet long and weighing about 150 pounds.

Lifespan: In the wild, it's up to 50 years, though less than 50 percent of babies survive to adulthood.

Reproduction: Courting involves touching tongues, rubbing snouts and scraping chins. Six to eight weeks after the female is too tired to outrun the male, she will lay 15 to 30 leathery eggs. Hatchlings tend to be 22 inches in length and weigh less than 3.5 ounces.

Diet: Adult dragons eat birds, snakes, fish, crabs, snails, small mammals, pigs, water buffalo, eggs and sometimes even each other.

Teeth: Komodo teeth are flat and serrated, adapted for tearing into meat. The teeth break often and are replaced frequently; the dragon may grow as many as 200 new teeth a year.

Tongue: Komodo dragons use their forked tongues to smell. They are able to find carrion up to 6.8 miles away, and use their tongues to investigate Komodo defecation sites, which provide them with information about the sex, size and age of other dragons. When the tongue is retracted, the tip touches the roof of the mouth where special organs detect the smell by recognizing airborne molecules.

Saliva: Bacteria in the Komodo's saliva are highly toxic and quickly cause infection, which kills prey after about 72 hours.

Hunting habits: Komodos ambush their prey by rushing from shrubbery, using their acute sense of smell. For large prey, dragons often attack the feet and lower legs, inflicting toxic bites. They have been recorded taking down a 1,300-pound water buffalo. Smaller prey are snapped up with a quick lunge.


Monitor Lizards

Nile Monitor Lizards

SWAHILI NAME: Kenge

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

Monitors belong to the family Varanidae. Some are small reptiles of less than a foot in length, while the Komodo dragon, the largest living lizard, grows to 364 lb. All monitors are tropical reptiles. They are active lizards, that may be very hostile, lashing out with their tails upon the slightest provocation. Even a small monitor can produce a stinging lash with its tail.

The claws of monitors are long and sharp. The jaws are very strong. Once they bite something it is very difficult to get them to let go.

Monitors are carnivorous and will devour anything they are capable of dismembering and gulping down. Species which live in or near water will readily eat fish.

Monitors do not divest themselves of their tails, like some other lizards. Once lost, the tail of a monitor does not grow back.

The Savanna monitor, Varanus exanthematicus, is also known as the Cape monitor. It grows to 5 feet. Its body is olive brown, mostly unmarked. A few have cross bands on the body; pale spots ringed in dark brown to black forming the cross bands.

They are found in western and central Africa in open forest and rocky savannas, in hot, arid areas. They bask frequently and are agile both on land and in water.

The Nile monitor, Varanus niloticus, grows to 6 feet. It is dark brown-black with pale to yellow bands and spots forming broken cross bands on the body.

It is distributed in Africa except the northwest. It stays close to water, and can dive for up to one hour. It is very agile on land and in the water. It is diurnal.

BEHAVIOR:

Many species hold their heads erect on their long necks, which gives them the appearance of being alert. They intimidate predators by lashing out with their tails, inflating their throats, hissing loudly, turning sideways, and compressing their bodies.

They are mostly terrestrial, but many are agile climbers and good swimmers. The tail is somewhat compressed in tree dwellers, very compressed insemiaquatic monitors.

Monitors threaten by opening the mouth, inflating the neck and hissing. The ribs may spread, flattening the top of the body, or the body may just expand slightly. This makes the monitor look larger than it actually is. It often raises up on its hind legs just before attacking. The tail delivers a well-aimed blow.

DIET:

Monitors tend to swallow their prey whole, like snakes. Monitors are daytime lizards and most species actively search for food. Some species eatcarrion, giant land snails, grasshoppers, beetles, whip scorpions, crocodile and birds; eggs, crabs, fish, other lizards, snakes, nestling birds, shrews and squirrels.

REPRODUCTION and GROWTH:

Combat between males is frequently observed during the breeding season in some species. Monitors lay 7 to 35 soft-shelled eggs, usually deposited in holes in riverbanks or in trees along water courses. The Nile monitor often lays its eggs in termite nests. There is little or no sexual dimorphism (difference in appearance).

Eggs are 2 inches long with leathery shells. Incubation is 8 to 10 weeks. The young use an egg tooth to emerge.

Fortunately we didn’t see any crocs, although they are wild on Pulau Ubin!