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THE KOMODO DRAGON

By: Efraim Harari



The Komodo dragon (pronounced kuh–MOH–doh), also known as the Komodo monitor, is the largest and by far the deadliest lizard in the world. It is extremely aggressive and so strong that it can hunt and kill prey much bigger than itself. This menacing lizard has a long, flat head; powerful jaws; scaly skin; curved, sharp claws; and a large, muscular tail. If that wasn’t scary enough, it can grow up to ten feet in length!

The Komodo dragon is able to use its long, yellowish, split tongue to track down its prey. It does this by flicking its tongue in and out of its mouth, which allows the tips of the tongue to pick up scents from theair. The Komodo dragon then places the tongue tips in the roof of its mouth. Nerves there are able to “taste” the scent particles in the air and thus help the Komodo dragon locate both live and dead prey.

Thankfully, the Komodo dragon does not live in many parts of the world. It can only be found living in five islands that are all located in southeastern Indonesia.

The Komodo dragon is a carnivorous creature that eats carrion and hunts and kills large animals such as goats, deer, horses, and water buffalos. Young komodo dragons, however, prey on smaller animals found in the trees, such as snakes, smaller lizards, and birds.

The teeth of the Komodo dragon are sharp and serrated, like the teeth of a saw. However, this creature is unable to chew food, so it needs to swallow its prey whole. When it kills a large animal, the Komodo dragon tears it into pieces in order to completely consume it.

The Komodo dragon is usually a solitary predator that relies on patience and camouflage to capture prey. It generally hunts during the day, because it does not see so well at night. It will wait for hours until an unsuspecting victim crosses its path. The lizard’s skin coloring camouflages it well, as it lies in vegetation and waits for the right opportunity to pounce upon its prey.

Due to the fact that an adult Komodo dragon is the most dominant predator in its environment, it does not have any natural predators to fear (other than man).

I’ll Be Back!

The Komodo dragon is an expert hunter, and most of its initial attacks on its targeted prey are successful. There are times when an animal does escape from the jaws of the Komodo dragon; however, even in this type of scenario, the Komodo dragon will usually catch up with its victim in the end and consume it.

The Komodo dragonis known to have about fifty different types of toxic bacteria in its saliva. These bacteria thrive on traces of flesh. When a Komodo dragon bites an animal, the bacteria is transferred from the Komodo dragon’s mouth to its victim, which causes the victimto become quickly infected. In addition to the deadly bacteria that it transfers, the Komodo dragon also has venom glands in its jaws. With all this, the bitten animal usually dies from blood poisoning within twenty-four hours.

So, even when a bitten preyis able to run away from the Komodo dragon, it is only a matter of time before it collapses and dies from the infectious bite. The Komodo dragon then uses its delicate sense of smell to locate its victim and finish off the job.

TORAH TALK

In the past, thevillagers of Kampung Komodo, in Indonesia, would provide the Komodo dragon with its food, by hanging the remains of deceased goats for them to eat. The Komodo dragons would pounce on the food and devour it in just a few minutes. Over time, though, as the villagers continued with this practice, they noticed a change in the Komodo dragons. The creatures became slower and more lethargic; they seemed to lose their hunting talents. This led to the decision by an environment protection group, called Nature Conservancy, to ban this feeding practice and allow these enormous creatures to do their hunting work by themselves, just as the Almighty intended.

One might have thought that a giant, frightening creature such as the Komodo dragon would not be able to change into a more docile animal; that it could never lose its ferocious hunting techniques. As it turned out, however, when the Komodo dragon received its food without effort, its character did change; the vicious creature began acting like a quiet and peaceful lizard.

This teaches an important lesson about one’s ability to change. There are people who claim, “I have done so many sins already; I am a lost cause. I will never be able to do teshuvah.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter how low one has fallen, he can still do teshuvah; he can still change his behavior and have his repentance be accepted by Hashem. Nothing stands in the way of one’s will, especially if one’s will is to sincerely repent.

After all, if a beast such as the Komodo dragon can change its ways, how much more so can man.