Komodo dragon sticking its forked tongue out

Dragons are real!

A pair of komodo dragons

When you think of dragons, you probably picture those giant, flying, prince-fighting creatures from fairy tales. But did you know there really are dragons, right here in real life?

Komodo dragon face

King of the lizards

Komodo dragons are living, breathing dragons, even if they don’t breathe fire. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t really cool—and fierce—reptiles. Komodo dragons are the largest of lizards, and there are 3,000 kinds of those! They live on only five islands in southeastern Indonesia. And while they may not be big enough to tear down a castle, the Komodo dragon is plenty big—adult males can be 10 feet long. They are ready, willing, and able to protect themselves with their more than 60 sharp teeth and long, sharp claws.

Komodo tongue

Secret weapons

Komodo dragons also have some almost-magical secret weapons. They use their long tongues to pick up smells in the air, even if they’re a mile away! And for these dragons, meat is what’s for dinner. They eat pigs, Timor deer, buffalo, snakes, and fish that wash up on the shore. And should an animal manage to escape the dragon’s long claws and short, sharp teeth, the dragon has a back-up plan. It just follows the wounded prey, because the dragon’s bite contains deadly bacteria that eventually kill its intended meal!

You can see a video about one of the Zoo’s Komodo dragons here. Is he to be feared or admired?