How to care for your Komodo Dragon

You should not have a pet Komodo Dragon. But if you do, the Smithsonian's National Zoo has kindly shared a fascinating guide to "Caring for Komodo Dragons, the World's Largest Lizards." For starters, have plenty of frozen-thawed mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, chicken, beef, oxtail, herring, and tilapia on hand. From Smithsonian:

Keepers can't pick up a huge and potentially dangerous lizard like [the zoo's 22-year-old Komodo Dragon] Murphy, so they train him to participate in his care. One of their main tools is a large crate that stays in Murphy's habitat, where it has become a familiar object. They can place the crate on a scale and ask Murphy to climb in to be weighed or use the crate to transport him to the veterinary hospital. Holes in the crate allow keepers to give Murphy bits of food as a reward to reinforce his good behavior.

His training also includes getting used to different experiences, such as the touch of a keeper, the sensation of a needle, and the feel of being scrubbed or groomed with a brush. Male Komodo dragons typically live to be about 20 years old in human care. That means Murphy is elderly in Komodo dragon years and requires some special care for conditions that are a natural part of aging, like arthritis in his legs. Thanks to his many years of training, keepers and veterinarians can work together to give him laser therapy treatments for his arthritis twice a week.

image: Danadi Sutjianto (CC BY-SA 4.0)