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Komodo Dragon Bite, Teeth and Venom

The Komodo dragon is the largest, most famous, and arguably also the most dangerous monitor lizard out there. Renowned for their lethality, Komodo dragons have deadly venomous bites and razor-sharp teeth which they use to hunt, kill and eat their preys.

Surprisingly, the bite of a Komodo dragon is not very strong, and its teeth are more suitable for cutting than crushing. What makes this reptile so deadly is the venom they inject with their bite, which can send large animals (and even humans) into shock and make them bleed to death within a couple of hours.

Komodo Dragon Teeth

Komodo dragons have 60 sharp teeth, which they use to cut through the flesh of their preys and of large animal carcasses. They have ziphodont teeth, which are laterally compressed, sharp, and with serrated edges, and more similar to those of sharks than of other reptiles.

Size

Komodo dragon teeth are actually quite short for such a large creature, the maximum size is around 1 inch (2.5cm). Because Komodos also have very thick, fleshy gums, the teeth appear to be almost completely hidden, giving the impression of a toothless lizard.

Regrowth

A peculiar ability of Komodo dragons is that they can actually regrow their teeth. Because they tend to feast on hard animal meat and carcasses, their teeth actually tend to get damaged in the process and fall quite often. When this happens, they simply grow new ones.

Komodo dragon skull

Komodo Dragon Bite

The bite of a Komodo dragon is extremely deadly and allows them to hunt down prey that is considerably larger than them, such as water buffalos. While their jaws are not too strong, all it takes for them to kill is one bite, which allows them to inject their potent venom into their victim which will then die within a couple of hours.

Bite force

Despite their size and ferocity, Komodo dragons have a relatively weak bite force of only 39 newtons, or around 500 to 600 PSI. This is considerably less than other non-venomous reptiles such as crocodiles or tegu lizards which rely on their teeth to crush and kill their preys. Komodo dragons rely heavily on their venom in order to kill their prey, so the strength of their bite is not as crucial.

Venom

For many years, scientists have been debating whether Komodo dragons are venomous or simply have “poor oral hygiene”, since their bites tend to become infected as a result of countless amounts of deadly bacteria living in their mouth.

As it turns out, Komodo dragons have both venomous glands and can transmit infections through their saliva. In most cases, though, it is their venom that ends up killing the prey by causing a drop in blood pressure and preventing the blood from clotting, sending them into shock and causing them to bleed out to their death (unless they get eaten in the process, of course). If for whatever reason the prey ends up surviving the venom, then they also have to deal with the bite becoming infected and leading to blood poisoning.

FAQs

How many teeth does a komodo dragon have?

Komodo dragons have 60 razor-sharp teeth shaped like sickles. They also have the ability to regrow new teeth when one gets damaged or lost.

How long are full size Komodo dragon teeth?

Relatively to their body size, Komodo dragons have somewhat short teeth, only around 1 inch (2.5cm) long.

Do Komodo dragons regrow their teeth?

Yes, Komodo dragons are able to regrow their teeth. The reason for this is that Komodos are voracious eaters who tear the flesh of large animals and carcasses, and tend to hurt their teeth in the process. When a tooth is damaged or lost, they can simply replace it by growing a new one.

Why are Komodo dragon teeth hidden?

Komodo dragons have very thick gums which cover their teeth almost entirely. Because their teeth are also relatively short compared to their size, Komodos sometimes appear as if they were toothless. Because of this, people sometimes may see a photo of a Komodo dragon with its mouth open and get the impression that they have no teeth. But as a matter of fact, Komodo dragons have teeth – and they are numerous and very sharp.

Do Komodo dragons have retractable teeth?

No, Komodo dragons do not have retractable teeth. Their teeth are fixed however they can be “hidden” by the gums in their mouth. Additionally, when a tooth is broken they can lose it and grow a new one.

Are Komodo dragons venomous?

Yes, Komodo dragons are extremely venomous. Because their bites are not very strong, they inject venom through their teeth to paralyze and eventually kill their prey. The venom acts as a blood thinner and anticoagulant, and a single bite can cause the prey to bleed to death.

How do Komodo dragons hunt?

Most of the time, Komodo dragons simply hide and wait for prey to come to them. When they sense a prey nearby, they will ambush it by charging it at high speed and biting the underside or throat. A single bite is all they need to send the prey into shock, at that point the Komodo will start tearing the flesh apart and eating its victim while it bleeds to death. In most cases the Komodo will hunt alone, but when there is a very large prey such as a water buffalo it is not uncommon to see “packs” of Komodo dragons hunting together.

Can you survive a bite from a Komodo dragon?

There are very few people who survived a Komodo dragon attack, and they got extremely lucky. The bite itself won’t kill you but the venom and potential infection can lead to death within a few hours. The only way to survive a bite from a Komodo dragon is to seek medical attention immediately.

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