Can I Keep A Komodo As a Pet?

You can find several photos online of Komodos dragons that looks like people are keeping them as a pet. Is it really a good idea?

Can I keep a Komodo dragon as a pet? No, You can’t. It’s not legal in any state to keep a Komodo dragon on your property. The reason why it’s illegal is that it’s a dangerous animal and it has a poisonous bite. Only Zoos and reservations can get permission to own a Komodo dragon.

Here’s a list of very interesting facts about the amazing Komodo.

After reading these facts you will understand why it’s never a good idea to keep a Komodo at home.

Let’s start by taking a look at some basic facts about Komodos. After reading through these you will surely be fascinated by these predators and you will also know exactly why they are not good pets.

Why are Komodos illegal to keep as a pet?

Komodo looking at the camera

There are good reasons why you cannot own a Komodo dragon. First and foremost because they are really dangerous, as we have just looked at.

Furthermore, they are a protected species which only live on a few islands in Indonesia.

The Komodo is the largest living lizard out of over 3,000 species. They are gigantic lizards really and they have a forked tongue like a giant snake. The tongue has caused people to create all sorts of myths and stories about the Komodos because they look almost mythical.

The mouth is full of bacteria. To an extent that scientists used to believe that this bacteria was the main cause of death after being bitten. And they’re constantly drooling which is also a good reason not to keep it as a pet. You wouldn’t want to have deadly saliva all over your property.

They would also require a LOT of space and you would have to buy a ton of meat to keep it satisfied and healthy.

So no, Komodos are not good pets and you cannot buy them anywhere (legally).

Can you train a Komodo dragon?

Yes, you can.

Zookeepers have successfully trained Komodos to be petted on the head. It seems as like they enjoy being padded on the back and on the head. They report the Komodos as being very intelligent and calculated.

But you wouldn’t want to mess around with a Komodo unless you are a trained Zookeeper and you know exactly what you are doing. You also need a good deal of courage to enter the cage!

We have seen a show on ABC Earth where the crew approaches a group of Komodos trying to communicate with them and test their bite strength:

How dangerous are they?

Really dangerous. They can EASILY kill a human being.

They can even kill a Buffalo as we will look at in a bit. The bite is venomous and will kill you slowly if you don’t die directly from the bite itself. You could try to run but the Komodos can run as fast as you and if you have been bitten you will be slowed down significantly due to the venom.

It will paralyze your muscles!

Just how venomous are they?

Scientists recently discovered that Komodos are not killing their prey from the bacteria in the mouth. Instead, they will be killed by a set of glands in the lower jaw. This means that they will actually insert a little bit of venom into the prey.

If you get bitten by a Komodo dragon you need immediate attention from a doctor. You will experience rapid swelling and pain.

The venom is also known to cause paralysis, blood clotting, and shock. This makes it impossible for the prey to be putting up a fight against the Komodo and it will lose the battle.

The venom will weaken and eventually kill the prey if it escapes during the hunt. The Komodo will then track down the wounded (or dead) creature and start eating it. It uses its tongue to find the way to the prey and it can track it down on long distances.

They have been observed to track down an escaped prey up to almost 2,5 miles away (4 kilometers). But normally they will only track the prey up to 1,5 mile (1 kilometer).

When it sticks out its forked tongue it can sample the air and smell its prey. It has a REALLY good sense of smell.

Can they swim?

Yes. Komodo dragons are great swimmers. They can even dive up to 15 ft (4.5 meters) down in the water and they can even climb trees when they are not fully grown!

So they are very effective and deadly hunters which will not leave their prey alone. Even if they dive into the sea and run/fly up in a tree. But as the young Komodo dragon grows up they lose their ability to climb trees. They simply get too heavy.

Komodo dragon attacks

The Komodo dragon will suddenly set after it’s prey and run as fast as it can to put it down. It will try to bite the animal in the throat to kill it.

They have been observed to kill pigs in seconds so they are extremely efficient and dangerous!

They tend to hunt and eat in groups and otherwise, they keep to themselves most of the time. They are loners but will join forces in order to put down their prey.

There have been several stories about divers getting lost from Komodo attacks. It’s not that common that Komodos will eat humans.

Komodo skull

The Komodos have a pretty strong bite. They can bite with more than 600 pounds per square inch (around 2x the bite strength of a Pitbull). But they will typically not bite their prey to death. Instead, they can sway their tail really hard to knock out its opponent.

How fast can a Komodo run?

A Komodo can run at approximately the same speed as a human. So you need to make a run for it if you are hunted by a Komodo dragon!

They can reach a top speed at 13 mph (20 km/h) for sprints. But over longer distances, they will not reach these speeds.

What do they eat?

Komodo dragons are carnivores, which mean that they eat meat.

They will hunt and prey on a lot of animals. Some of the biggest animals they will eat are Water Buffalos! Here’s a list of animals they typical eat:

  • Deers
  • Pigs
  • Buffalos
  • Goats
  • Birds
  • Eggs
  • Monkeys
  • Wil boars
  • Horses
  • Snakes
  • Fish
  • Other Komodos
  • Etc.

They use the force of gravity to drink. They will suck water into the mouth and lift their head to let the water run into the throat.

A Komodo is an effective eater. It has been taught well by its parent to empty its plate. It typically eats around 88% of an animal. In comparison, a Lion will only eat around 20 to 30% off a carcass.

They can consume as much as 80% of their own total body weight. This is somewhat similar to giant snakes.

Can humans eat Komodo dragon meat?

Yes, you could. But you shouldn’t and you probably won’t find any restaurant who will serve it. The reason is that the Komodos are a protected species so you would be violating a law by eating it (or killing it for that matter).

It will probably taste a bit like crocodile meat.

What do Komodo babies look like?

Much like lizards. They are lizards after all. They are the biggest lizard breed and the young ones look just like smaller lizards as we know them from warm areas.

Here’s a picture of the baby’s head.

komodo baby head

Here’s a picture where you can see more of the body structure. Notice the claws. They are already starting to look pretty scary. They use them as weapons when they get bigger but as babies, they also use them to climb trees.

Baby Komodo dragon

How big is the biggest Komodo dragon?

The Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina has reported a giant Komodo dragon weighing more than 366 pounds (166 kilograms). It was around 10 feet long (3 meters).

But typically the Komodos will weigh up to 150-200 pounds (70- 90 kilograms).

Are Komodo dragons and endangered species?

Yes. They only live on a few islands (see below). The Komodos will live up to around 30 years and there are not too many left. Around 4,000 have been reported to be left.

Where do they live naturally?

The Komodos only live a few places in the world. They are a protected species for the same reason. This is also a good reason why you cannot buy them, own them, or keep them as a pet.

These are the regions you can find wild Komodos:

  • Komodo Island
  • Rinca Island
  • Gili Montang Island
  • Gili Dasami island
  • The Island of Flores

All of these islands are located in southeastern Indonesia.

Zoos with Komodo dragons

These are some of the Zoos where you will find Komodos:

  • San Diego Zoo, California
  • San Francisco Zoo, California
  • Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Akron Zoo, Ohio
  • Houston Zoo, Texas
  • Atlanta Zoo,
  • Birmingham Zoo, Alabama
  • Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, DC

An alternative (legal) pet that looks like a Komodo

There are several other lizards you can keep as pets.

The coolest one (in our humble opinion) is the Bearded dragon. It looks somewhat like the Komodo dragon, and it’s definitely related to it.

bearded dragon

I have been babysitting a Bearded dragon for a week once, and it’s really sweet. You can pet it and you can play with it. It won’t constantly drool like it’s Komodo cousins and you can fit it in your living room inside a terrarium.

You can read more about the Bearded dragon here and we also have a really long article covering all the exotic animals you can keep as pets.

Like what you read? You can Pin it 🙂

(that would mean a lot to us 💕)

Komodo Pinterest Pin

Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic, riverbanks.org

Morten Storgaard

I love pets and I've had several pets including hamsters, reptiles, birds, and fish. I have written extensively about pets and educational content about wild animals.

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