This edition completely revises a original, updating details to include the first successful U. The blend of scientific insights and lively travelogue will make this accessible to a large audience; but especially college-level students of natural history. Convert currency.
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To ask other readers questions about Komodo , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Abby Obert rated it really liked it Jul 01, Early Cuyler rated it did not like it Mar 07, LDF rated it did not like it Mar 11, James rated it liked it Sep 22, Rainy rated it it was ok Jul 08, Neil Shelley rated it it was amazing Jul 25, Rina ivarksd added it Mar 29, Mike added it Jan 24, Like all Komodo dragons, especially the larger ones, he will be interrupted repeatedly by his need to thennoregulate- to increase or reduce his body temperature.
After basking in the morning sun until around 9 a. The sunlight is useful to him now, but its searing heat during his hunting hours will frequently force him off the open grasslands and into the shade of the boundary woodlands; at midday, he will drowse for several hours in a cool burrow or under a bush Auffenberg, Although he may sleep in different places from night to night, this dragon is a resident.
Half his time is spent within a small core area that provides most of his basic needs - thickets, burrows and rockslides for nap- ping and sleeping in, a few good spots where he can hide to ambush prey, some high ground where he can test the winds for the scent of nearby carrion, several dunging sites where he can rnarkhis territory and a now-dry water hole. One edge of his core area overlaps with that of a female dragon and they have mated several times, but they will probably not meet today unless both are drawn to the same place by the smell of carrion. Surrounding the dragon's core area is his forag- ing range, criss-crossed with trails leading him to all the live prey available nearby: incubator mounds built by megapode birds where eggs can be found and parent birds caught, thickets where deer and boar sleep, and 36 Komodo, The Living Dragon even, since he is near the ocean, a section of beach where sea turtles sometimes lay their eggs.
Dragons' territories usually include dry monsoon forest and savanna habitats but they also include mangrove swamps, open beach, steppe, thickets, and even offshore islets, reefs, and bars. The dragon will pause to leave a dropping before he sets out on his hunting route.
Dragon islands – how people live alongside the world’s largest venomous reptile
Dragons convey a great deal of infonnation to each other with their dung, which is primarily white and left out in the open where other dragons can easily find it. They tongue each dropping they encounter with such intent interest, like dogs pick- ing up messages from communal fire hydrants or tele- phone poles, that Dr. Auffenberg assumes they are learn- ing about the size, age, and possibly sex and breeding condition of each dragon that has passed along the same trail.
Because dragons are such efficient scavenger- predators - and feral dogs, jungle crows, and carrion- eating beetles quickly finish off the few remains of their prey - examination of fecal pellets provides more clues about dragon prey species than searching for carcasses does. The favorite prey of adult dragons appears to be boar, deer, and other dragons, although when opportu- nity offers, they will also eat water buffalo, civet cats, rats, birds, fish, snakes, and such domesticated animals as dogs, chickens, and goats.
They occasionally eat crabs, birds, cobras, snails, clams, and even porcupines and macaque monkeys on Flores. Walking to the feeding arena on a Tuesday, Dick and Mary Lutz were shown a fecal pellet which the guide opened, pointing out some hair which he said was from the bait goat that the dragon had eaten on the previous Sunday. Both core areas and foraging ranges are less rigidly defined than those of other lizard species, probably because the territories are much larger and harder to defend.
Several other adult males' foraging The Life of the Dragon 37 ranges overlap with this dragon's, and transient adults and sub-adults will enter his foraging range from time to time, though they will try to avoid his core area. By paying careful attention to droppings and scents on the wind, however, he may be able to stay out of eyesight of other hunting dragons and avoid confrontations. Decaying flesh releases putrid oils which are much stronger than the scent of live game, especially by the second day, and any dragon will follow carrion scent as far as 7 miles 11 km into another's foraging range or even core area.
Despite his precautions to avoid any dragon larger than himself, this dragon may well meet several other dangerous dragons - both male and female - over the carcass of a dead deer or boar today. YoungBlood Spread the jungle crow's wings and fly off to the eastern slopes of the island's tallest mountain, Gunung Ara, which soars 2, feet m above sea level and has already been warmed by the sun.
The tanah dingan cool ground above the foot level m is filled with groves of bamboo and rattan, mossy stones, and ficus trees, a pleasant environment for a human trying to escape the sweltering heat, but too cool a region for any Komodo dragon. Further down are the vast steppes on the mountainside, where I-foot-tall Although deer graze in these high open meadows, there is no shelter from the sun, so few dragons will be found here.
Below the foot level m , though, the tanah panas hot ground offers a wealth of micro-climates for the dragons to choose among. Open beach and open savanna are the hottest, since sunlight intensifies when reflecting off the ocean and the hillsides are dotted with Ion tar palms 38 Kornodo, The Living Dragon offering little shade. Because of the early hour of the day, the soaring jungle crow sees a few 3 foot. A white cockatoo flashes from a clump of dead tamarind trees in the valley floor of a tropical savanna forest, a good site to search for younger dragons.
The open canopy allows sunlight to filter through to the lowest levels, especially since the leaves have fallen during the long dry season. The sharp-eyed crow catches sight of movement: a 20 inch Some reptile species such as crocodiles take close care of their young, both in the eggs and as hatchlings, but Komodo monitors are not among them: half of this young dragon's clutchrnates disappeared down an adult dragon's throat while they were still in their eggs.
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Dragons can hatch at any length from 8 to 19 inches Since it hatched in April or May, near the end of the rainy season, this youngster and the others of its generation have already adjusted to their dry season diet of geckoes, skinks, and other lizards. The next rainy season will begin in January, bringing a variety of grass- hoppers and other insects into their diet, and by next dry season, they will be large enough to hunt rats, mice, and birds. At first glance, this two-month-old lizard, already longer than the adults of most other lizard species, looks like a member of some brighter-colored monitor species.
Like the first captive-hatcheddragons, described by Dr.
Komodo Dragon Facts
The protective coloration helps hide it against the sun and shade pattern of the tree trunk. This dragon has spent two days in the tamarind tree, carefully going over its surface and checking under the frequently peeling bark for geckoes and skinks. It now comes down to the ground cautiously, before quickly dashing across the ground to another tree. On the basis of present evidence, it seems likely that the greatest predation pressure on oras at all stages of their life is generated from within their own species. When competi- tion for food is severe, the eating of young by adult oras is an efficient system of post- hatching recruitment control Auffenberg, In one area studied by Dr.
Auffenberg, fecal pellets revealed that other dragons constituted 8. From now on until it is a large adult, this dragon will be a solitary animal at constant risk from other members of its own species. Until it reaches about 30 inches 75 em , it will almost always search for geckoes and insects on or near a tree, stump or log where it can scurry under loose bark or into the hollow of a dead tree when a larger dragon approaches. By the age of nine months through a year and a half, when it is 15 to 40 inches long 40 to em , it will be dining on rodents and birds, for which it will have to cautiously search on the ground or in bur- rows, as well as in trees.
Other predators the young dragon must be wary of until it reaches 3 feet about 1 m in length are feral dogs, boar, brahminy kites predator- scavenger birds , and snakes. This youngster is in no risk of being captured by "" 40 Kornodo, The Living Dragon Indonesian zoo collectors, since they currently gather dragons only on Flores, but as the dragon grows larger and ranges farther, it may have to be wary of occasional poachers who sneak past the rangers' guard.
After its first year, the dragon will be too large to jump from branch to branch, but will have to climb slowly and clumsily, using its tail as a prop and occasionally break- ing a branch or even falling when it misjudges its new weight. Even as it grows larger, up to 5 feet 1. Apparently dragons start scavenging when they are approximately one year old and about 3 feet, 6 inches 1. Like some species of felines, hyenas, jackals, and raptorial birds, they apparently prefer to scavenge if they have a choice, but are fully capable of killing live game as well.
Only a few carrion-eating birds crows and kites and some feral dogs are their competi- tors for carrion on these isolated Indonesian islands. Perhaps this dragon will grow up to be one of the several dozen dragons that gather in the Loho Liang feeding arena to eat the bait goat hung there each weekend, but more likely - if it survives to adulthood - it will join the several thousand other dragons still living wild on the island.
Predator at Work On the other side of the ridge, a 9-foot-Iong 2. The monsoon trees here bear fruits and nuts eaten by dragons' prey animals, provid- ing a cooler environment since their thick, high canopies allow little sunlight to enter. Most dragons, especially The Life of the Dragon 41 the younger ones, roam over the island with no fixed territory, passing through the activity ranges of several other dragons over the course of several weeks or months.
Residents are mostly large males and a few large females. Transients corne in all sizes, including large males like this one. Like most adult dragons, this transient finds sentinel, basking, and resting sites uphill, but must move downhill to find deeper shade, food, and water. Al- though he occasionally crosses a ridge and looks around for prey and other dragons, as a rule he follows smells rather than relying on his sight. This experienced giant usually follows dry creek beds and long savanna valley paths, game trails, and human-created paths.
Some trails are so frequently used that they become "virtual ora highways" Auffenberg, There are a number of other dragons in this val- ley, but the dragon is not searching for any of his kind. Aggression between monitors of the same species, espe- cially Komodo dragons, is so great that chance meetings can lead to severe injury or death. Due to his great size, this dragon is in far less danger than the hatchling, but the ingrained habits of a lifetime keep him from deliberately joining other dragons except at a carrion feast. He bears long, slashing scars from fights in the past, as well as a few puncture scars from attacks on wild boar.
The crow settles on a nearby murraya bush, low enough to watch the dragon approach.
Komodo dragons move like other lizards, lifting the front right and rear left feet at the same time, then switching to the opposite feet for the next step. However, other lizard species usually carry their bodies closer to the ground and spend much of their movement time running.
Only the tip of the dragon's tail touches the ground, leaving a track that mirrors the undulations of his walk. Like all adults of his species, this dragon has a long head and neck and a heavy tail almost as long as his body, so his deliberate pace is in "three-part harmony," with the head and tail swinging in one direc- tion and the body in the other with each step. Why the dragon evolved a bright yellow tongue - it was the only lizard species to do so - is unknown, but the reason that all monitors have forked tongues has been determined.
The dragon uses its tongue to "taste" smells, gathering minute particles from the air and ground and putting them against its Jacobson's organs, a sort of paired "super nose" in the roof of its mouth that acts like a combination of taste and smell. Like snakes, which also have Jacobson's organs, monitors use their forked tongues to determine the direction of scents.
The human equiva- lent is not in taste but in hearing; if the same sound reaches both ears but sounds louder in the left ear, the human with normal hearing can assume that the sound carne from the left side.
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The tongue tips are not far enough apart to make this directional reading work well, so the dragon swings its head from side to side as it senses the location of its prey. The crow moves to an azyrna bush to watch the dragon patrolling the edge of the forest, scanning the hot savanna occasionally in search of prey. Each front paw drags forward bent at the wrist so that the top rubs across the ground until the paw is lifted and flopped into place. This inelegant movement is no hardshi p on feet sturdy as a bear's, though with slightly longer toes; the dragons' sharp-clawed foot is as solid as "the bottom of a brass table leg" Adams and Carwardine, Despite his impressive size, this dragon's muscular midsection is relatively lean, indicating that he probably has not eaten a large meal for a week or more.
Dragons can and often The Life of the Dragon 43 do die of starvation during the long dry season, and since this dragon is a transient, with no established core area of his own, he may well lead a marginal existence from season to season. Auffenberg once found an adult dragon "so emaciated it could hardly walk". But this dragon, though no doubt hungry, can survive without food for another three to five weeks if necessary.
A large Russell's viper, disturbed by the vibra- tions caused by the dragon's heavy steps, slithers across the path toward its hole, but the dragon quickly seizes it behind the head and breaks its back with a strong jerk of his head.