Iguanas VS Komodo Dragons: Differences To Set Them Apart

Written by Peralee Knight
Published: May 11, 2022
© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:


The main difference between the iguana and Komodo dragon is their size.

Iguanas and Komodo dragons are some of the most fascinating lizards in the animal kingdom. However, apart from both being species of monitor lizards, these two could not be more different! When comparing iguanas and Komodo dragons, the key difference that sets them apart is that Komodo dragons are much, much bigger. But that is only one of the many ways these two stand out from one another!

Iguanas VS Komodo Dragons: Physical Appearance

While both are grouped in the same genus, commonly known as monitor lizards, these two could not be more different! In terms of appearance, they’re both very distinct and easy to tell apart. Luckily, both amazing animals are so interesting, there is no risk of getting bored when learning more about them!

Komodo Dragons Are The Largest Lizard On Earth!

Komodo Dragon Stretching
Komodo dragons are the biggest lizards on earth and weigh up to 150 KG, where the Iguana tops off at 30 pounds.

©GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock.com

Only The Top 1% Can Ace our Animal Quizzes

Think You Can?

The Komodo Dragon is the largest species of lizard found on Earth. Weighing up to 150 KG and over three meters long, they are larger than many dogs. Komodo dragons have strong, heavily muscular bodies with powerful hind legs. Their thick, massive tail provides balance and allows them to stand upright. Their scales are a greyish brown and are so small, they appear skin-like, with folds near the neck.

Komodo dragons have powerful claws used for digging, and small heads with extremely strong jaws filled with sharp teeth and deadly bacteria. The largest Komodo Dragon ever weighed 365 pounds!

Iguanas Are Smaller, But Still A Big Lizard!

Yellow-backed iguana
Iguanas come in all sizes, scales and colors! Even without the obvious size difference, iguanas are easy to identify by their dewlap and dorsal crests.

©Charlotte Bleijenberg/Shutterstock.com

Depending on the specific species, iguanas are between five to seven feet long and can weigh up to thirty pounds! While the Komodo is clearly much bigger, large iguana species like the blue iguana are far from tiny! Scale size, coloring, and patterns vary depending on a multitude of factors, including species, mood or even environment! You can tell if it’s an iguana by the dewlap under the throat and the dorsal crest that extends from the base of their neck to the tail tip.

To learn more about each species of iguana, check out our article on how big iguanas get!

Iguanas VS Komodo Dragons: Habitat Differences

Though both of these monitor lizards prefer warm temperatures, you can find them on opposite sides of the world! Also, the iguana is a well-known lizard to many and a popular pet worldwide, but the Komodo dragon is a discovery. The Komodo and the iguana both have their ways of making a habitat their own!

Iguanas Are An Invasive Species

Best lizards - Green Iguana
Native to Central and South America, the overpopulation of iguanas in Puerto Rico and Florida can be a real nuisance!


Iguanas are native to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands. While they are indigenous to the jungle, they are also a highly invasive presence in Puerto Rico and Florida. In Florida, they’re classified as an invasive species. Since they are commonly kept as pets, abandoned iguanas have resulted in an iguana infestation! Though Florida is close to the equator, it occasionally experiences cold temperatures. During those times, iguanas that go into brumation can be found falling randomly from trees!

Iguana species have adapted to many habitats, such as marine locations. For more about how each species of iguana fares in the wild, check out this article about how long iguanas live!

Komodo Dragons Are Only Found In Indonesia

Komodo Dragons are only found on five Indonesian islands.

©Raul / Creative Commons

The Komodo Dragon is only found on five distinct Indonesian Islands and was not discovered until after World War 1. Scientists weren’t the ones to discover this massive lizard. The first human to see the Komodo dragon was a pilot! After he crashed into the ocean and ended up stranded, his sighting on Komodo Island earned the lizard its name!

Due to their isolated habitats and lack of natural predators, the Komodo is at the top of the food chain. Experts believe that their extreme size is due to the presence of now-extinct large land mammals that the Komodo evolved to prey upon. Due to their isolation, the Komodo dragon developed into a massive, powerful, and utterly wild creature!

Iguanas VS Komodo Dragons: Pets And Predators

The most significant difference to keep in mind between the Komodo dragon and the iguana is their status regarding human contact. While the iguana is a popular pet, the Komodo dragon is one of the deadliest animals on the planet. One thing both lizards have in common is that neither should be approached in the wild!

Wild animals of any type should be left to professionals. While the Komodo is the more dangerous animal, the iguana can cause injury too. It is important to know more about both the Komodo and the iguana to appreciate why one is a pet, and one is a predator.

Komodo Dragons Are Dangerous Predators

Komodo dragon hunting
Make no mistake, the Komodo Dragon is one of the most deadly predators on Earth. Unfortunately, iguanas don’t stand a chance against their massive cousin!

©Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.com

If you are wondering which would win in a fight, trust us when we say that the Komodo dragon beats the iguana no-contest.

The Komodo is one of the known man-eaters, an animal that has no problems with hunting humans. These lizards evolved to be a highly efficient and very deadly carnivores. The Komodo dragon preys on animals brought to their islands by humans over the last century. The Komodo stalks their prey relentlessly, often able to wait for hours before an ambush.

Their biggest threat is the loss of habitat due to volcanic activity and human expansion. The Komodo can consume both living and dead animals. They are immune to the multitudes of bacterial strains in their saliva. However, once bitten by them, these bacteria cause sepsis and death without immediate treatment.

Pet Iguana
Unlike the Komodo dragon, iguanas often make wonderful pets for the right owner! However, wild iguanas should be left to their own devices.


In the wild, iguanas prefer to make their homes in the canopy, with larger and more dominant iguanas near the top. They are rarely aggressive toward each other unless there is not enough room to sun themselves. While some species of iguana are carnivores, many are also omnivores or even herbivores too! When attacked or threatened, they will freeze or run rather than attack and can drop their tails to evade. As a pet, iguanas require specialized care but make wonderful pets for the right owner. They are on our list of the Ten Best Lizards To Keep As Pets!

Share this post on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.