Are Komodo Dragons Poisonous or Dangerous?

Apex predator: Komodo dragon

Written by Taiwo Victor

Updated: September 28, 2023

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Komodo dragons¬†are undoubtedly one of the¬†world’s largest and most dangerous lizards. With their huge, muscular bodies and highly venomous bites, komodo dragons can¬†take down prey¬†many times larger than them, such as¬†deer,¬†pigs,¬†water buffalo, and even humans. Komodo dragons are extremely dangerous and venomous, and the best thing to do is stay away from them.

They are not the best idea to keep pets as they are fierce hunters and difficult to tame. They can be very dangerous to keep around children or even adult humans, especially animals. Their name suits them well, as Komodo dragons are true carnivores that attack all sorts of animals in the wild, even humans. While the Komodo is not known to feed on humans, attacks have been reported.

Komodo Dragon Bite

Dumbest Animals in the World: Komodo Dragon

The venom a Komodo dragon possesses makes its bite lethal.

©Yudi S/

The Komodo dragon seems terrifying because of its 60¬†sharp, serrated teeth. However, the komodo dragon’s bite is relatively weak compared to other animals. Like other¬†lizard species, Komodo dragons can generate a bite force of only 500 to 600 PSI or 39 Newtons, which is weak¬†compared to an Australian saltwater crocodile¬†of the same size that can generate a bite force of 252 Newtons.

Technically, the Komodo dragon’s bite should not be enough to create colossal damage or impact on animals or humans. So what makes a Komodo dragon’s bite lethal? Komodo dragons possess a potent venom delivered through their razor-sharp teeth. This venom can kill humans within a few hours.¬†

Komodo dragons are aggressive and forceful hunters, and there have also been incidents where they have attacked humans. Their bites are excruciating. Apart from their ripping teeth, Komodos also have a unique technique in biting and ripping their victim’s flesh off. Komodo dragons use a customized bite-and-pull strategy when biting prey or attacking humans.

They do this using their powerful neck muscles that aid them in taking a forceful bite. Komodo dragons will often bite an animal or sometimes humans, pull back the flesh while oozing the venom from their mouth into the victim’s wound in a frenzied attack. Komodo dragons leave massive, gaping wounds filled with the lizard’s venom in humans. The venom quickens the blood loss process and sends the victim to lethargy or shock.¬†

Are Komodo Dragons Dangerous to Humans?

Are Komod dragons poisonous or dangerous

A Komodo dragon’s bite can be very dangerous to humans.


You might think that lizards are all harmless and non-venomous, but not the Komodo. The Komodo is the largest lizard on the planet and is extremely dangerous. Komodo dragons are known to hunt and take down even massive mammals, but more importantly, they can also take down and kill humans. These giant lizards have a ferocious bite that injects venom into their victim, sending them into a state of shock as the venom speeds up blood loss, decreases blood pressure, causes massive bleeding, and prevents wound clotting. These events weaken and incapacitate victims, including humans, hindering them from fighting back.

Komodo dragons have a natural predator mouth with shark-like teeth and strong venom. Studies say that a Komodo’s venom can kill an adult human within hours. Apart from that, the Komodo dragon’s bite itself can leave deep wounds that can cause excruciating pain.

Because of the recorded fatalities, the Komodo dragon has been a fearsome reptile in Indonesia, inducing terror in its natives. Yet, experts claim that Komodo attacks are still rare. For decades, scientists believed in the myth that Komodo dragons were not venomous and instead killed with their saliva filled with bacteria. However, in 2009, Bryan Fry and his colleagues proved that Komodo dragons possess venom glands loaded with toxins and therefore use the venom to kill their victims. The Komodo dragon’s venom glands are located between their teeth and are designed to “exaggerate the blood loss and shock-inducing mechanical damage caused by the bite.” 

Komodo Dragon Human Attacks

Although rare, Komodo attacks on humans have been reported. Unlike most lizard species, Komodo dragons are aggressive and may track even when unprovoked. Some Komodo dragon attacks have left villagers with deep bite wounds and some others dead. Both in captivity and the wild, the Komodo National Park has gathered 24 reported attacks from 1974 to 2012. Unfortunately, five of these attacks were fatal. 

The fatal attacks include the death of an 8-year-old boy on Komodo Island in 2007 after being attacked by the giant lizard. The boy succumbed to his injuries and massive bleeding. In 2009, on the other hand, a 31-year-old man gathering sugar apples on Komodo Island fell from a tree. He fell on two Komodo dragons, which ravaged him. The victim was reported to have bites on his hands, legs, neck, and all over his body. The man died shortly after the attack. Some other reports of Komodo attacks have left individuals gravely injured.

Are Komodo Dragons Poisonous?

Komodo Dragon Teeth

Due to the presence of toxins in their venom glands, Komodo dragons are very poisonous to animals and humans.


Contrary to popular belief, Komodo dragons are incredibly venomous. Their venom is highly poisonous and enough to kill animals in a few hours, even humans. Scientists have believed that Komodo dragons have killed their victims through bacterial infection for decades. These lizards were said to have extremely dirty saliva that could poison the blood within a few hours with the help of their teeth. However, the Komodo’s venom glands are discovered to be oozing with toxins, not bacteria, that are capable of speeding up the bleeding of wounds and preventing it from clotting. This is why most of Komodo’s victims die of blood loss. 

Komodo dragons uniquely deliver their venom. They tear the flesh and forcefully pull them back using their strong neck muscles, weakening the victim and sending it into a state of shock. These giant lizards may have been living only in a specific region, but they have the potential to be one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. Equipped with 60 shark-like teeth and snake-like venom, the Komodo dragon is an apex predator in the wild and a dangerous threat to humans.

What Do Komodo Dragons Eat?

Komodo dragons are carnivores who will eat anything that crosses their path, including humans. They prefer to hunt live prey, but as they have huge appetites if they find any dead animals they will consume them, too. Large adult Komodo dragons typically eat large mammals introduced to the habitat by humans, including pigs, goats, deer, dogs, horses, and water buffalo. Animals that are indigenous to their habitat, such as small rodents, deer, wild boar, and monkeys, are also on the menu. Smaller or younger Komodo dragons target prey closer to their own size and eat insects, smaller lizards, rodents, birds, and snakes.

A Komodo dragon will eat another Komodo dragon, with the bigger of the species hunting the smaller like any other prey. The threat from other Komodos begins immediately after they are born. The juvenile pups begin hunting their own following hatching. Due to larger Komodos preferring mammals on the ground, the smaller ones are more inclined to use their climbing abilities and scale trees to hunt for food and evade any attacks from their bigger counterparts. Young Komodo dragons will also roll in the fecal matter of larger dragons in order to cover their scent and try to avoid detection.

The species remarkably has a stomach that is able to expand when needed, so it’s possible for them to consume up to 80% of their body weight. If a large Komodo dragon weighs 330 pounds, it is capable of eating 264 pounds of meat in one meal! Find out more about Komodos’ diets here.

Is it Safe to Pet a Komodo Dragon?

Although the Komodo dragon is not known for being inherently aggressive, it poses a significant danger to both humans and animals, making it unsuitable as a pet. The serrated structure of its teeth can carry as many as 50 different bacterial strains, including some that are septic and naturally present in its saliva.

A Komodo dragon’s assault can result in fatality, even when targeting humans. In contrast to crocodilians and various other reptiles, Komodo dragons possess relatively modest bite force.

Instead, they depend on their sharp, curved teeth and long, robust claws to slice and rip into their prey with remarkable power.

Komodo Dragon vs Crocodile

Historically, saltwater crocodiles were competitive predators with the Komodo dragon when they shared the same hunting grounds of coastal areas and mangrove swamps within the Komodo State Park. Crocodiles no longer exist in the area and would not normally face off with this reptile in the wild but if they did, what would happen in a fight between a Komodo dragon and a crocodile?

Both are about equal when considering their physical defenses. However, as crocodiles can reach up to 20 feet long and weigh in at 2,000 pounds, they have the size advantage over Komodo dragons, who grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 300 pounds. Crocs are also faster, achieving speeds of 22 mph on land and 15 mph in water, while Komodos’ top speed is 11 mph.

When it comes to senses, Komodo dragons have the advantage as their very keen sense of smell allows them to detect prey from miles away.

While both have dangerous sets of teeth that they put to deadly use, crocodiles win out when it comes to the bite factor, as they have one of the most powerful bites on Earth measured at a force of 3,700PSI, compared to Komodos’ weaker bite power of roughly 100-300PSI.

Overall, crocodiles are bigger, stronger, and faster than Komodo dragons. A crocodile would win a fight against a Komodo dragon. You can read more about what would happen in a battle between the two here.

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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