Watch A Mighty Komodo Dragon Snag A Seagull And Down It In One Bite

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Written by Nilani Thiyagarajah

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Komodo dragon
© vladivlad/

Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards. One of the things that makes them so fascinating is their ability to quickly consume animals that are almost as big as they are! In this clip, we see one essentially eat a seagull in one bite! Keep reading to learn more about this extraordinary lizard. 

What Does The Komodo Dragon Eat?

The Komodo dragon is willing to eat nearly any kind of meat. These dragons can be both hunters and scavengers. They will stalk live animals and scavenge for carcasses as well. The animals they pursue can range in size from tiny rodents to larger animals, such as water buffalo.

Komodo dragon hunting

Komodo dragons will eat almost any type of meat.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/

Young Komodo dragons typically feed on insects, small lizards, birds, and snakes. Once they reach about five years of age, they start pursuing larger prey, such as goats, rodents, monkeys, deer, and wild boars. They can also be cannibalistic, eating other Komodo dragons.

Experts hypothesize that the Komodo dragon evolved to be so large in response to sharing its habitat with large prey such as mammals. Currently, the sheer power and size of this species allow it to hunt and kill animals much larger than itself. 

How Does The Komodo Dragon Pursue Its Prey?

Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragons are relentless hunters.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/

Komodo dragons are tertiary predators. Although they can run at speeds of 10 to 13 miles per hour for short stretches of time, they tend to use stealth to capture their prey.

Komodo dragons primarily use their sense of smell to locate prey. Their sense of hearing is weaker than that of humans, and their vision is fairly poor in the absence of light.

The curved, serrated teeth of the dragon sometimes kill prey animals instantly by tearing through their flesh. Otherwise, venom and bacteria in their saliva will kill the prey within a few days. Once the animal dies, the dragon can locate the carcass with its sense of smell.

Komodo dragons are also adept climbers and will hunt in trees to find food. The smaller members of the species are most likely to climb to catch prey while avoiding larger dragons. Large dragons refrain from climbing to hunt, preferring the larger mammals on the ground.

How Does The Komodo Dragon Eat?

Dumbest Animals in the World: Komodo Dragon

The Komodo dragon has muscles in its jaws and throat that allow it to swallow massive pieces of meat very quickly.

©Yudi S/

The Komodo dragon has muscles in its jaws and throat that allow it to swallow massive pieces of meat very quickly. Their lower jaws open up shockingly wide because of movable joints, including the intramandibular hinge. Their stomachs also expand very easily, which allows an adult Komodo dragon to eat a staggering 80% of its own body weight in just one meal.

When the dragon eats, it holds its prey down with its four legs. Often, it will tear off large chunks of flesh and swallow those whole. However, in some cases, the dragon will swallow the entire animal whole.

For smaller prey animals, like the seagull in the video below, the dragon will typically swallow the entire animal whole. Their anatomy (loosely articulated jaws and expandable stomach and throat) make this possible. These dragons produce large amounts of red saliva that allow them to lubricate the food so that it goes down more easily.

After the dragon digests its prey, it will regurgitate the parts of the animal that its system rejects. Typically, this includes matter such as hair, teeth, horns, and feathers. This mass is known as a gastric pellet, and it is covered in mucus secreted by the dragon. Once the dragon regurgitates this pellet, it will rub its face on surrounding objects in order to get rid of the mucus.

Is It Normal For a Comodo Dragon To Swallow a Bird Whole?

Yawning Komodo Dragon. Rinca island, Indonesia. Canon 5D MkII.

The Komodo dragon’s jaw can expand unusually wide when it is attempting to consume a larger animal.

©kiwisoul/ via Getty Images

It is completely normal for a Komodo dragon to consume a bird. It may be surprising to witness it swallow the bird whole, feathers and all. A Komodo dragon would typically eat chunks of meat from its prey, especially if it’s a larger animal. The reptile has special tools in its jaws like an intramandibular hinge which can make its jaw open very wide, as well as movable joints. Its stomach can expand enough for the Komodo dragon to take in up to 80% of its own body weight in a single sitting! 

Imagining (or in this case witnessing) the dragon swallow such a large bird, the thought of it consuming those feathers may inspire your gag reflex. But as stated earlier, it is able to regurgitate parts of the animal that its stomach would struggle to digest, including horns, teeth, hair, and feathers.

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