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Xeni Jardin at 8:45 pm Wed, Feb 6, 2013
Oh, and the old story about Komodo dragon bites being particularly bad because their mouths were full of harmful bacteria turns out to be false.
They’re just venomous.
Not ‘just venomous’, they really do have lots of harmful bacteria in their saliva. It seems still to be somewhat controversial as to whether venom, bacteria or trauma is the major factor.
It doesn’t matter why they’re dressed like a tiger. Have they have my leg?
I think the general attitude of Komodo dragons was summed up nicely in a documentary or news report or something I saw years ago. A researcher had put a dragon into a sack in order to weigh it. It was thrashing around angrily as one does when one is in a sack, and the host or reporter said “It doesn’t look as if he likes this very much”.
The researcher replied “Komodo dragons don’t like anything”.
Kind of makes me want to introduce one to an alien egg and see what bursts out of it.
Maybe the experience wasn’t presented to the dragon in the intended positive light.
One nature program showed a Komodo dragon putting the host (it may well have been Steve Irwin, but I’m not sure) up a tree, and the only reason he made it was because he was in shape and moved very fast, The dragon came up after him as far as it could and still tried to take a couple of reaching bites at the top of its lunge.
I thought Komodo’s were scavengers? I would have thought that it was more likely spooked from ending up in a confined space with another big animal, rather than being a nasty bastard.
No, Komodos are a particularly lazy predator but they’re still a predator. They hunt by biting prey animals, and then waiting patiently for the horible biochemistry in their mouths to do its work – a toxic stew of venom and septic bacteria, along with big ragged wounds to maximize surface exposure in the victim.
They follow the victim around for days waiting for it to weaken enough to just start eating it.
They also eat carrion, but that’s nearly universal for carnivores of any kind. I think it’s pretty much cheetahs that won’t scavenge.
You are of course totally correct. Think I must have unlearned that at some point. Brains ay?
The dragon was just coming in to check their TPS reports.
Apparently didn’t like what he saw…
If you want to read/listen to an hilarious account of them, Douglas Adams wrote about them in a chapter of his excellent book, “Last Chance to See”. The book is fantastic, but this talk is equally delightful:
He talks about quite a few things in there, but one of them is reading an excerpt from the chapter about komodo dragons.
If you’ve read that book, you’ll also know that the longest anyone has ever survived after being bitten is two years.
That was likely true in 1992, when LCTS was published, but it hasn’t been true since at least 2003 (two years after Phil Bronstein was bitten by a captive dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo).
What’s sad is that the dragon realized that the rangers were helpful and necessary for its protection, but that day his ‘lizard brain’ got the best of him, and he was just, ‘fuck it, I’m going to eat one.’
That’s it. I’m not going to Indonesia unless accompanied by a professional dragonslayer.
I visited Komodo Island last year and stood 4 ft from the largest one in a group of 3. There were probably 8 park attendants with us-they used long forked sticks to move the dragons around and we decided upon leaving that the dragons were most likely sedated for obvious reasons…
Also took this awesome picture of one staring me down…
Pet peeve mode ON: The original story quotes the source as describing the lizard as two metres long. The way people use numbers, that’s not likely to be very precise. It probably amounts to ‘between one and three-quarter metres and two and a quarter metres’. Converting it to Imperial as 6.5 feet, as the WashPost article does, very likely introduces spurious precision. It would make far more sense to say ‘about six feet’ or ‘about two yards’.
On behalf of the Campaign For Precisely-defined Vagueness.
How’d they get into the office? The old “candygram” trick?