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Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) Fact Sheet: Summary

Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis)

Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) Fact Sheet

komodo dragon

Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.



Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia — reptiles

Order: Squamata — amphibians, lizards, snakes

Family: Varanidae — monitors, monitor lizards

Genus: Varanus

Species: Varanus komodoensis — Komodo dragon

Body Weight
Male: up to 136 kg (300 lb)
Female: up to 70 kg (154 lb)

Body Length
Male: 3 m (10 ft)
Female: 2 m (6.6 ft)

Gray or clay-colored skin, finely spotted with orange and yellow as adults. Brighter, speckled skin when younger. Distinctive light yellow tongue.

Distribution & Status

Behavior & Ecology

Five islands in Indonesia, including Komodo

Flat savanna, rocky valleys, beaches

IUCN Status
Endangered (2019 assessment)

CITES Appendix
Appendix I

Other Designations
Protected under Indonesian Law

Populations in Wild
Approximately 3,500 individuals, including adults and juveniles. Approximately 1,400 mature individuals (400 female).

Body, head, and tail undulate from side-to-side when walking. Hold tail and body rigid when running. Good swimmers, like other monitor lizards. Climb trees as juveniles.

Activity Cycle
Primarily diurnal. Activity peaks during mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Spend most time thermoregulating and sleeping.

Social Groups
Solitary. Interact with other Komodo dragons only during breeding or at feeding (carcass) sites.

Carnivorous diet, wide range of prey species. Feed on carrion and hunt animals along game trails.


Reproduction & Development

Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
5-7 years of age

Incubation Period
2.5-8 months

Clutch Size
1-30 eggs (18, on average)

Hatching Weight
80 g (2.8 oz)

Typical Life Expectancy
Wild populations: most males do not live past 30 to 40 years; most females do not live beyond 20 years
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 20 years for males, 13 for females


Feature Facts

  • World's largest living lizard
  • One of the few venomous lizards
  • Skin covered by protective scales; often compared to chain-mail
  • Able to eat a lot of food quickly
  • Sharp, curved claws for digging burrows
  • Young Komodo dragons live in trees and eat insects
  • Habitat loss and illegal wildlife trafficking pose the greatest conservation threats
  • San Diego Zoo received its first Komodo dragons in 1963
  • New Komodo Kingdom habitat to open at the San Diego Zoo in 2021

About This Fact Sheet

© 1998-2021 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Population estimates updated Aug 2018. Husbandry information updated Mar 2021. Content update May 2021. IUCN Status and population estimates updated Sep 2021.


How to cite: Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) Fact Sheet. c1998-2021. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. komododragon
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)


Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to


Thank you to Mike Garr and Davis Provan for sharing their knowledge of Komodo dragon husbandry for the Managed Care section of this fact sheet.

Mike and Davis are wildlife care specialists for Komodo dragons at the San Diego Zoo. Mike has 14 years of experience caring for Komodo dragons at the San Diego Zoo and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Davis has been part of the San Diego Zoo’s animal care team for 3 years and has extensive experience in reptile husbandry. In addition to providing care to the Zoo’s Komodo dragons, Mike and Davis most enjoy providing care for the San Diego Zoo's endangered turtles, crocodilians, and venomous snakes.

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