If you hear any strange noises while visiting Komodo Island, don’t go to check them out. Because you might find yourself face-to-face with the world’s largest, most dangerous lizard. And it looks hungry. As it starts charging towards you, you realize – you’ve never seen a creature move that fast before.
If you thought dragons only exist in fairytales, we have a surprise for you. This is a Komodo dragon. They have shark-like teeth, strong muscles, and more than enough power to kill a human being.
Komodo dragons are the heavyweights of the lizard world. They weigh more than 136 kg (300 lb), and grow up to 3 m (10 ft) long. They’re only found on several islands in Indonesia, and estimates say there are about 5,700 of them. About 176,000 people visited Komodo National Park in 2018. You’re allowed to travel across the park by yourself, but you’ll need to be careful.
If a hungry dragon comes looking for you, what could you do to survive? Can you outrun a Komodo dragon? Why is their bite so dangerous? And why could zigzagging save your life? Dragons in Komodo National Park have attacked 31 people since 1974. Five of those people died.
Step 1. Don’t go alone
When a Komodo dragon goes hunting for a meal, it prefers a target that is alone. So, always stay around other people. And don’t be cheap. Paying for a guide or a ranger’s services is the safest way to walk through the park.
Step 2: Stay on the Path
It’s very important to stay on the park’s official trekking paths. If you leave these paths, you run the risk of coming too close to a Komodo dragon. They’re really good at hiding in bushes and the shade below stilt houses.
Step 3. Keep your distance
If you get too close, Komodo dragons will feel threatened and are more likely to attack. Even if you’re observing the Komodo dragons from a safe distance, making sudden movements can scare them and ignite an attack.
Step 4. Lay low
Komodo dragons have an incredible sense of smell, so it’s a good idea not to use any strong fragrance. Leave your cologne at home. Women who are menstruating are not allowed near the dragons since they can smell the slightest bit of blood. When the dragons smell blood, they think it comes from their prey. And If you make a lot of noise, it can invite a hungry lizard or disturb the lizards. They may attack because they feel threatened.
Step 5: Run in a Zig-Zag Pattern
You couldn’t resist being noisy. Now an angry Komodo dragon is charging at you. The good news is that you might be able to outrun it. The dragons can speed up to 21 km/h (13 mph), but not for long. So give it all you’ve got, and you might escape. If you’re not a fast runner, you’re tired, or the dragon is close enough to lunge at you, this tip could save your life. Komodo dragons can only run straight ahead. So run in a zigzag pattern, and the dragon will stop chasing you.
Step 6. Fight back
If a komodo dragon bites you, it’s bad news. If you try to run, the big lizard can follow you for miles, waiting for its venom to take effect. So, force the Komodo to let you go. The dragon’s scales are like armor, so you won’t hurt a Komodo by hitting or punching it. Instead, use a tree branch or a rock and hit its nostrils, eyes, or the inside of its mouth.
If the dragon is not too big, and it grabs ahold of you, you can try and open its mouth with your hands. Actress Sharon Stone arranged a special birthday gift for her husband–a visit to the Komodo dragon at Los Angeles Zoo. As he tried to take a photo, the dragon grabbed his foot. He forced the dragon’s jaws open, threw it aside, and dragged himself out of the cage.
Step 7. Be quick or be dead
Call for help, and get medical care as soon as possible. Don’t waste any time because the venom could make you bleed to death. Getting medical attention is your number one priority. And remember, the blood could attract other dragons.
If you can move, get back on the trail and ask a guide for help. They have forked-sticks to keep the dragons away. They only attack if they feel threatened, are provoked, or smell blood, and humans are not their usual prey. But the dragons are losing their natural habitat and their food sources.
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- “11 Surprising Facts About Komodo Dragons”. Jaymi Heimbuch. 2021. Treehugger.
- “Komodo Dragon, Facts And Photos”. 2021. Animals.
- “Dragon Tales: Zookeeper’s Komodo Bite Raises Questions”. Elizabeth, Palermo. 2021. livescience.com.
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