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Can a Komodo Dragon Kill a Human? (+ Monitor Lizard Comparison)

If you are interested in Komodo Dragons or researching them you may be wondering if they are dangerous to us humans…

Can a Komodo dragon kill a human?

A Komodo Dragon can kill a human. In fact, one of the known fatalities was back in 2007 when an 8-year boy was attacked by one. In general, the attacks are deemed rare, but they can kill and will if they have to. So, this why most people would class them as dangerous.

So, now you know. But, could a Komodo Dragon be kept as a pet? What are the effects of their bite? How do they compare to a Lace Monitor lizard? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Can a Komodo Dragon become a pet?

Can a Komodo dragon kill a human?

A Gray Komodo Dragon crawling onto a rock.

Komodo Dragons cannot be considered pets for several reasons. Firstly, they are classed as “vulnerable”, meaning they are one stage from being endangered, their size is not practical for most homes, and their diet and upkeep require an advanced keeper.

Also, there are restrictions on removing these animals from their natural environment. This is to keep them safe while they are classed as vulnerable, or worse in the future.

Could a lion or tiger hunt a komodo dragon?

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A lion or tiger could likely hunt a Komodo Dragon. But, it’s not proven or likely to be an easy fight for either of them. Why? Because a Komodo Dragon is very large and will defend itself quite well if it is provoked.

The reality is a lion or tiger would prefer to avoid it and choose an easier target. They aim to feed themselves and avoid getting injured. Meaning, they would prefer an easier target that will feed them and allow them to hunt another day easily.

How do Komodo Dragons kill their prey?

Komodo Dragons kill their prey using their teeth and claws. This vicious attack causes deep cuts to their victim causing substantial blood loss. There are other theories that they cause bacterial infection in the attack or even inject venom.

However, the latter, bacteria, and venom is hotly debated. Some agree this is their main method of causing fatalities, but others disagree and claim there is no supporting evidence.

One thing that is agreed upon is the damage their teeth and claws do. And, this alone is enough to kill their prey alone.

What are the effects of a Komodo dragon bite?

A Komodo Dragon’s bite is catastrophic. It has teeth, similar to a shark. Meaning they are serrated and cause their prey’s flesh to be ripped up in the attack causing fatal damage.

Is the Lace Monitor bigger than the Komodo dragon?

The Komodo dragon is the biggest monitor lizard. In fact, it’s the largest living lizard on Earth! Komodos can reach lengths of up to 10 feet (3 meters) and weigh approximately 154 pounds (70 kilograms) on average.

The largest verified Komodo specimen was measured at 10.3 feet (3.13 meters) and weighed a gargantuan 366 pounds (166 kilograms)!

But the Lace Monitor (V. varius) is no chump. Lace Monitors grow to between 4.9 and 6.5 feet (1.5-2 meters) long and weigh about 44 pounds (20 kilograms) on average.

How many different species are there in the monitor lizard family?

Any lizard of the Varanus or Lanthanotus genera is considered part of the monitor (Varanidae) family. There are approximately 50 species. These lizards’ typical physical features include elongated heads/necks, long tails, and prominent, muscular legs.

Monitors also have forked, snake-like tongues. They are found in Africa (south of the Sahara Desert), Australia, southern and southeastern Asia, and various islands in the southwestern Pacific.

The smallest monitors can grow to a full length of 8 inches (20 centimeters), and the largest (Indonesia’s infamous Komodo dragon [V. komodoensis]) can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters) long!

Is the Komodo Dragon’s tail longer than a Lace Monitor’s?

Komodo tails are equal in length to their body. Since Komodos can grow up to ten feet, its average tail length is approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters). Lace Monitor tails are usually half to 1.5x the size of the body, measuring around 2.5 to 3 feet (0.7-1 meter).

What color is a Komodo Dragon?

Adult Komodo dragons are greyish-brown. Juveniles can have a more pronounced yellow pattern with bands of varying colors and specks of yellow, green, grey, and brown. Notably, Komodo dragons from the Indonesian island of Flores are an earthy red color with yellow heads.

What color is a Lace Monitor lizard?

Lace Monitors have a more complex color scheme. Juveniles have broad yellow and blue-black stripes spanning the length of the body and tail. They also tend to have scattered yellow, white, or cream-colored specks/blotches. As Lace Monitors age, the colored bands fade, leaving only the paler spots and blotches.

What does a Komodo Dragon eat?

Komodo dragons are very fierce hunters, often preying on much larger animals. They’ve been known to eat water buffalo, deer, and pigs. If needed, they will eat carrion. Komodos have also been known to eat smaller Komodos.

The Lace Monitor also has a varied diet. They eat a wide range of prey, including birds/birds eggs, insects, and small mammals. Like Komodos, Lace Monitors will also scavenge carrion if the opportunity presents itself.

Why is the Komodo called a ‘dragon’ instead of a lizard?

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The Komodo’s intimidating name comes from Indonesian lore. It is named after a mythological, dragon-like creature that is rumored to have once lived on Komodo Island. Locals call these behemoths ora, meaning “land crocodile”, or biawak raksasa (“giant monitor”).

The name was coined by W. Douglas Burden in 1926. Fun fact: Burden’s expeditions to Komodo Island were the inspiration behind the famous 1933 film King Kong. Many speculate that the creature’s unprecedented size helped give credence to the unusual name. Mythology aside, though, these dragons are still technically lizards.

When does the Komodo start mating?

The period between May and August is the Komodo mating season. If you’re lucky enough to be in their territory during this time, you’re bound to see male Komodos warring with one another over mating rights.

The battles can be intense! But the winners of these epic bouts aren’t free to just take their prize. Females will fight aggressively, biting and scratching would-be suitors. Mating males need to fully subdue their female mates during fornication to avoid serious injury (That can be a real challenge after a hard day of fighting!).

Once the female has been impregnated, her aggressive nature toward the male will cease. Mated Komodos can sometimes form monogamous pair-bonds, a characteristic exclusive to only a few animals in the world!

What is the most common species for monitor lizard pets?

In general, smaller monitors are the easiest to care for. It should be noted here that monitor lizards are NOT typically recommended for beginner pet-owners, as their temperaments and special needs can be costly and time-consuming.

Popular monitors for pets:

  • Blue-tailed Monitor (Varanus doreanus)
  • Dumeril’s Monitor (Varanus dumerilii)
  • Mangrove Monitor (Varanus indicus)
  • Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus)
  • Ornate Monitor (Varanus ornatus)

Find a fuller and more detailed list of popular monitor pets and their needs here.

Are Komodo dragons dangerous?

Yes! Komodos that haven’t formed a mating pair are solitary by nature. They prefer to be left alone. Not only are they incredibly territorial, but their huge claws and teeth can rend the hide of fully-grown water buffalo.

They also tend to use their huge tail as a powerful and effective battering weapon, known to knock down small trees and rocky outcroppings. Perhaps the deadliest feature of the Komodo is its saliva, which contains fast-acting toxic bacteria analogous to venom.

In general, it is advised to stay well clear of Komodo dragons if you spot one in the wild. Luckily, there’s a low chance you’ll accidentally happen upon one. Park rangers at Komodo National Park will strictly enforce safety procedures to ensure you’re protected.

That said, attacks on humans—though rare—have happened. Komodos are surprisingly fast (maximum land sprint speed of 12 miles per hour), and they’re shockingly stealthy despite their size.

You should not assume you’ll hear or see a Komodo coming at you just because it’s large. These beautiful and amazing lizards should be viewed at a very safe distance.

Are Lace monitor lizards aggressive?

Lace Monitors are notoriously hard to tame. Those born in captivity are usually easier to domesticate. Some domesticated monitors can enjoy being scratched under their chin, atop the head, and behind the “ears”.

Tip: if the lace monitor is breathing heavily, it probably means they’re enjoying the affection. If they start inflating their throats or hissing: stop immediately. It is generally unwise to underestimate the potential ferociousness and physical danger of these lizards.

Owning monitor lizards as pets have become quite popular over the years, and it’s no wonder: these creatures are entrancing, entertaining, and wonderful to look at.

But there’s also no denying that they are dangerous. In general, pet owners should only consider owning a monitor if they have some experience with handling monitor lizards. Many experts recommend against owning them as pets. Bonding with humans is not commonly considered a usual characteristic in monitors. Their loyalty to owners is questionable.

Many monitors are venomous (though their bites are typically only fatal to smaller animals). These bites do, however, pose a health concern. They can be especially dangerous for children and the elderly. Monitor bites—even from the smallest of monitors—have been known to break bones, penetrate skin and muscle, and cause excessive bleeding.

Which one is the best, Komodo or Lace Monitor?

Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘best’. Komodo dragons are the largest and most aggressive living lizards. When it comes to sheer size and power, there’s just no other lizard on Earth that matches these titans.

However, Komodo dragons are an internationally protected vulnerable species, and it is not legal anywhere in the world to keep them as pets. Honestly, knowing what they can do, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with one in my home!

Lace Monitors can be kept in captivity, but only by licensed and trained professionals. So, unless you’ve got the qualifications, you won’t be getting one from your local pet store anytime soon. They can be just as aggressive (and nearly as big) as Komodos, so keeping them as pets is inadvisable anyway.

If it’s a fight, my money’s on the Komodo.

Monitor lizards are beautiful and mesmerizing creatures, and they should be admired. But they’re just as ferocious as they are pretty. Uneducated owners are hurt all the time by their monitor pets.

With proper knowledge, anyone can appreciate them safely. My goal is for more people to reach a respectful understanding of monitor lizards so that humans and monitors can live together happily and peacefully.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.