Males engage in a ritual combat to mate with females. They wrestle in an upright position to try to throw the loser to the ground, often drawing blood. When ready to mate, females give off a scent in their feces that males can detect. Male Komodo dragons then locate the female, rub their chin on her head, scratch her back, and lick her body. If the female exhibits interest, she licks him back. He then grasps her with his claws, lifts her tail with his, and mates with her. After mating, some males will stay with the female for a few days to prevent other males from mating with her.
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
The mating season of Varanus komodoensis occurs yearly in July and August. Females lay up to thirty eggs about a month later (September) to avoid the hot summer months and allow a chance for a second mating. The eggs are buried in the earth and take about 8 months to hatch. Hatchlings are about 37 centimeters long and have a high mortality rate, frequently falling prey to adults and other species. As a result, they move to nearby trees as soon as they are able. It is estimated that females reach sexual maturity after 9 years and males reach it after 10 years.
Breeding interval: Varanus komodoensis breeds once yearly, but females will often mate more than once to ensure that their eggs are fertilized.
Breeding season: Breeding occurs from July to September.
Range number of offspring: 30 (high) .
Average gestation period: 8 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 9 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 10 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Average birth mass: 100 g.
Average gestation period: 49 days.
Average number of offspring: 22.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 1825 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 1825 days.
Female Komodo dragons dig a nest chamber in the ground for their eggs and cover it with earth and leaves. They then lie on the nest while the eggs are incubating, but there is no evidence of any parental care once the eggs hatch.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female)
- De Lisle, H. 1996. The Natural History of Monitor Lizards. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company.
- 2005. Komodo Dragon. Pp. 94-97 in World of Animals: Amphibians and Reptiles, Vol. 3, 1 Edition. Danbury, CT: Grolier.
- Wikramanayake, E. 1997. Everyone knows that the dragon is only a mythical beast. Smithsonian, 28: 74-79.
- Ciofi, C., T. Jessop. 2004. Tracing the Dragon. BBC Wildlife: 52-58.
- Murphy, J., C. Ciofi, C. De La Panouse, T. Walsh. 2002. Komodo Dragons: Biology and Conservation. Washington: Smithsoniam Institution Press.
- 1991. Lizards and Worm Lizards - Sauria and Amphisbaenia. Pp. 1606-1608 in M Corliss Pearl, ed. Reptiles and Amphibians, Vol. 9, 1 Edition. Lakeville, CT: Grey Castle Press.
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