Komodo dragons are found only on Komodo Island, Rinca Island, Flores Island and Motang Island in Eastern Indonesia. Europeans did not discover the existence of the Komodo dragon until 1910. At first, people thought it was a “land crocodile”, some people thought it was a living dinosaur, so they named it Komodo dragon.
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The Komodo dragon has had some pretty swanky-sounding titles like “top carnivore in East Indonesia” and “biggest lizard out there in the world”. Some even claim that it can rival lions, tigers and giant crocodiles. This is certainly an exaggeration, because leopards and wolves are probably the most suitable opponents for this reptile. So why don’t we try to compare this animal with leopards?
Komodo dragons have a fairly long growth cycle, their average body size and weight in the population is only 20-30 kg, there are male dragons that can weigh more than 50 kg, and only 15% of the fish. While large in the population weighing an average of 60 kg, the largest wild Komodo dragon recorded was 3.04 m in length and 104 kg in weight. East Indonesia has no large carnivores and the Komodo dragon follows suit without a competitor on these isolated islands, so this species has a huge opportunity to thrive.
Meanwhile, the leopard is a widely distributed species and the size of the subspecies is also very different, the average weight of the male Persian leopard is 67 kg, while that of the Arabian leopard Arabica is only about 20 kg. The average weight of male leopards in most areas is between 45-60 kg, and the average weight of female leopards is 30-40 kg. The largest male leopard found in scientific research weighed 110 kg.
The Komodo dragon’s strongest physical attack is its mouth – full of sharp teeth. It has more than 60 teeth, about 2.5 cm long, hook-shaped, serrated on the inside, can tear the skin of prey and cause laceration-like wounds. In addition, Komodo dragons’ teeth are replaced regularly, so they can stay sharp without worrying about wear – unlike snakes and crocodiles, so some people even nicknamed it the “ground shark”. .
As a carnivorous mammal, the leopard’s teeth have a “division of labor” and the fangs play a major role in fights and attacks. Its fangs are conical, 3-4 cm long and using the main killing method is puncture, which can sever the trachea or cervical spine of the prey.
Komodo dragons have strong limbs and sharp claws, when young they can climb trees and stand on the ground on their hind legs, but as adults and weight increase, they cannot do so anymore. However, they can still move on land at fast speeds, which can exceed 20 km per hour.
And obviously this agility cannot be compared with leopards. The claws of these big cats can dig deep into the bark, and they often sharpen their claws to keep it sharp. Leopards run at a speed of 50 to 60 km/h, their bodies are also extremely flexible, allowing them to jump and climb trees very proficiently.
The body surface of the Komodo dragon is covered with hard scales, containing subchondral bone forming a layer of “chain armor”. With age, the degree of scale fragmentation increases, this layer of “chain armor” also can provide a certain degree of protection.
The head of this reptile is 15-25 cm long, and the skull of the leopard is 18-29 cm long. The smaller head is the weak point of Komodo dragons, and their skull structure is also relatively slender, once bitten on the head or neck by a leopard, it is very easy to bite through. Leopars are very agile, strong limbs and sharp claws can serve as a permanent support, so if attacked by leopards, it is difficult for Komodo dragons to escape the “kiss of death” “from leopards.
In the 1980s, studies reported that the saliva of Komodo dragons contained a large number of dangerous bacteria that could cause death within hours. Scholars of the time often believed that they would not kill their prey on the spot, instead, after biting their prey, they would slowly follow their prey and wait until the ill-fated animal died. because of infection.
However, a 2013 study confirmed that the bacteria in their mouths are actually just common bacteria, no different from other carnivores.
With further research, experts have discovered that the Komodo dragon is actually a venomous species, it has two venom glands inside its mouth, which can secrete a variety of toxic proteins.
This is a toxin that has anticoagulant, paralyzing, and exhausting effects. A small Komodo dragon, about 1.6 meters long, will have 30 mg of venom, and meanwhile, just 16 mg of this species’ venom can quickly kill a 40 kg deer. 4 mg of venom was enough to make the deer incapacitated for a short time. So this is a pretty big advantage for Komodo dragons when compared to leopards.
Komodo dragons and leopards are both ambush predators, prowling close to their prey and launching surprise attacks when prey comes into range. However, their attack methods are different. The Komodo dragon bites the throat and underside of its prey, it does not intentionally let go of the prey as many people think before, but instead, it tears the prey’s body, causing them to lose blood to completely kill the animal. bait for a short time. On the other hand, leopards will attack with their front legs, use their legs to immobilize prey and then take a fatal bite to the throat, nape or head.
Both species can kill very large prey. A 400 kg bull can be killed by the 2.8 meter Komodo dragon, which will bite off the cow’s Achilles tendon and break the cow’s belly. A 2.5 meter long female dragon weighing 50 kg can swallow a 31 kg wild boar in 17 minutes. The leopard can kill adult mares weighing more than 300 kg, and the largest recorded prey of the leopard is the adult male oryx, which weighs 900 kg. As can be seen, the clouded leopard’s hunting ability is stronger, and the fact that the Komodo dragon spends most of its time is a scavenger.
Leopards reach adult size between the ages of 3 and 4 and after that their body size remains essentially unchanged. Male leopards at the age of 6 – 8 will reach their peak of strength and they enter the late afternoon after 10 years of age. Whereas Komodo dragons take about 8-9 years to develop a full body and they continuously grow in size throughout their life, their peak of strength will occur after the age of 10 and they can last up to 30 years.
Komodo dragons are generally much smaller than leopards, and only larger individuals (very rare numbers) can compete with leopards. If a Komodo dragon were to fight a leopard of the same size, both weighing 70-80 kg, the leopard probably still has a better chance of winning. Although this reptile has the advantage of teeth, the leopard is more mobile in close combat.
Moreover, the defense at the head and neck of the Komodo dragon is very weak, once it is bitten by a leopard, it is very susceptible to injury leading to death. Although this reptile has a biological weapon, it will not be able to exert its power without biting the leopard. Even if the leopard can be bitten, the injected venom takes some time to take effect and during that time the leopard can still kill the Komodo dragon.