The Komodo dragon is the living embodiment of the mythical dragons you never believed existed but now hope to see. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it. Komodo dragons are fearsome creatures, capable of reaching 10 feet and weighing in excess of 300 pounds. They also possess a venomous bite, and their toxic saliva produces life-threatening infections. Nobody has time to deal with that.
This enormous lizard can hunt pigs, cattle, other reptiles, and pretty much anything that they can grab hold of. Their nasty bite contains an anticoagulant toxin that leads to hemorrhage, sending the victim into shock. They also eat their prey alive just to complete the gruesome picture.
However, today we will discuss an unexpected characteristic shared by Komodo dragons – their speed.
Running Speed of Komodo Dragon
You wouldn’t say that Komodo dragons are particularly fast, given their physical appearance and anatomy. These are heavy lizards that move slow due to their relatively short legs. A standard adult Komodo appears sluggish when moving, swinging its front side of the body side to side.
Then you find out that these nightmarish reptiles can reach speeds of up to 13-14 mph. The good news is that Komodo dragons are sprinters, not marathon runners. So, they cannot sustain such high speeds for too long. If the Komodo doesn’t catch its prey within several hundred feet, it will cease the chase. This forces the reptile also to use its ambushing skills to approach its prey unseen as much as possible.
One bite is then all it takes for the Komodo to inject its venom and paralyze its prey. The prey doesn’t even need to remain in place. The Komodo will chase it at normal walking speed until the venom takes effect, at which point the feast begins.
Komodo Dragon Speed in Water
Since Komodo dragons are mostly seen on land, it’s natural to think that water might save you from the hellish lizard. And you would be right, but only up to a point. That’s because Komodo dragons can also swim including underwater. However, these animals aren’t made for an aquatic lifestyle.
There’s no evidence that Komodo dragons can hunt underwater or while swimming. There are also no reliable sources to provide us with accurate speed measurements for swimming dragons. As a general fact, though, Komodo dragons are considerably slower in water than they are on land.
Komodo Dragon Running Ability
Komodo dragons aren’t designed for running. They do have the ability to run, but not for long and only when necessary. Their anatomical composition isn’t meant for running, which means that Komodo dragons deplete their energy fast when in full sprint. There are several factors that influence a dragon’s ability to run, such as:
- Determination – A hungry Komodo dragon will be more incentivized to run compared to one with a full belly.
- Weight – The bigger and fatter the dragon is, the less likely it is for it to run for too long or at high speeds. Unfortunately, you don’t get too many fat Komodo dragons in the wild. One reason for that is that feeding opportunities are scarce, and dragons have to fight for them. Another is that these reptiles are always in shape due to them hunting and fighting regularly.
- Age – Younger dragons are keener to practice their running skills compared to older ones. As the dragons age, their metabolism drops, causing them to become slower and less inclined to give chase. However, it’s worth noting that even older Komodo dragons can resort to short bursts of speed if that ensures a happy meal at the end of their efforts.
- Temperature – Komodo dragons are reptiles, so they’re cold-blooded animals. This means these animals are less active in the morning and dusk when temperatures drop. So, stay away from them at noon, when temperatures are at their highest values.
- Terrain – The terrain will also impact the dragon’s ability to run. Muddy or rocky terrain will cause the dragon to wear out faster. This causes the dragon to choose its running track carefully when chasing its prey.
- Distance – Distance is probably the Komodo’s biggest enemy. Komodo dragons can only run in short bursts and prefer stealth and ambush over open chasing.
Overall, the Komodo’s running speed matches that of the human’s average speed. You should be able to outrun the dragon in a straight line, especially if you’re in a decent physical condition. And, most importantly, if you’re not taken by surprise. Running is no good if you’re getting attacked by a venomous bush 2 feet away from you.
Komodo Dragon Speed Compared to Other Reptiles
Interestingly, Komodo dragons are mediocre compared to other reptiles in terms of land speed. Here are some examples to highlight this point:
- Alligators – These ancient reptiles can reach 30 miles on land, which is double than the maximum human speed. There is no way you can outrun an aggressive and hungry alligator on land. There’s also no way to outswim one. Alligators can reach 20 mph in the water, while the average human’s swim speed is 5-6 mph. They can also swim for far longer than they can run.
- Green iguana – These arboreal lizards can reach twice the speed of a Komodo, capping at 22 mph. This is twice as fast as the average human speed. Fortunately, iguanas only use their running abilities to evade capture and predation, so you’re safe here.
- Perentie – This Australian lizard ranks as the second largest lizard on earth, just behind the Komodo. Despite its size, it can reach 25 mph on land, which is why it ranks as the fastest reptile on the globe today.
- Black mamba – This is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, making it that much more dangerous. That’s because people don’t expect snakes to reach any meaningful speeds on land. Then comes the black mamba, ranking as the fastest snake on land, toping at 14 mph at full speed. The Black Death of the reptile world is also the fastest of the snakes, making this species the stuff of nightmares.
For How Long Can a Komodo Dragon Run?
Only for a few yards. As I’ve mentioned several times now, Komodo dragons aren’t designed to run. Them running consumes a lot of energy, so they prefer only to do it in short bursts. Komodo dragons usually stalk their prey, using the foliage to camouflage their approach. They only run when they’re close enough to the prey to deliver their mortal bite.
It’s unlikely that Komodo dragons ever use running as a fleeing tactic against predators simply because adult Komodo dragons have no predators. Only baby and juvenile dragons are vulnerable to predation, so they might use their running abilities to evade attacks.
The conclusion is simple: keep your distance. Komodo dragons are unlikely to attack you on sight, especially if you’re not close to them. If you are and they charge at you, disengage at full speed, and they will cease the chase shortly. You can even enter a body of water nearby if there is any. Just make sure there are no crocodiles or alligators around.
Climbing a tree also helps since these lizards aren’t known for their climbing abilities. Overall, Komodo dragons are feared animals for their potent venom, unparalleled ferocity, and nightmarish look. And now you know that they can also run.