In my opinion, its the Komodo Dragon. But to be truthful, its really a subjective choice when you are comparing these two beauties! If you want the real comparison, that has led me to this choice, please read on.
Monitor lizards, like the impressive Komodo dragon and Lace Monitor, are some of the most astonishing creatures on the planet. Monitor lizard interest and ownership has increased dramatically in the last century.
As more homes are welcoming new scaly friends, it’s important that potential owners and lizard-lovers are staying educated. Below is a quick, informative Q&A that sheds some light on these amazing animals.
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. Typical physical features of these lizards include elongated heads/necks, long tails, and prominent, muscular legs.
Monitors also have forked, snakelike tongues. They are found in Africa (south of the Sahara Desert), Australia, southern and southeastern Asia, and in 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 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.
Which one has the longest tail?
Komodo tails are equal in length to their body. Since Komodos can grow up to ten feet, this makes its average tail length 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 are their differences in color?
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. (Here’s an excellent photo album.)
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.
Do they eat the same food?
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/bird 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?
The Komodo’s intimidating name comes from Indonesian lore. It is named after a mythological, dragon-like creature that is rumoured 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 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 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 of 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 has 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.
So, which one is the best?
Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘best’. Komodo dragons are the largest and most aggressive living lizard. 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 endangered 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.
If you like the article, or if you have some experience with monitors that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below! Was this article informative? Is there anything we should add? Let us know! The more accurate the information, the more we can protect monitor-lovers and their pals!