Fighting, Mating, Egg Laying and Hatching Season For Komodo Dragons
The period between May and August is when you might be lucky enough to witness the fierce fighting of rival komodo dragon males. During this time - which is the komodo dragon mating season – the large dominant males will fight each other intensely over females and territory.
A komodo dragon fight can be an equally bizarre and impressive spectacle. Before fighting the dragons can often be seen vomiting or defecating in preparation. The fights themselves most often resemble wrestling matches in which the males, supported by their hind legs, grapple with each other in a fight for domination. The loosing dragon is wrestled to the ground until submission.
The winning komodo dragon will select his desired female and using his most important sensory organ – the tongue – try to assess her receptivity. Initially, the female will be resisting approaches very aggressively, using both teeth and claws. For this reason the male must fully subdue and restrain the female during the actual act of mating to avoid getting injured. In what is an almost unique behavior for lizards, after the female dragon has been impregnated, komodo dragons sometimes form bonds in pairs – being essentially monogamous.
A dangerous early Life
During the month of September the female komodo dragon will lay her average of 20-30 eggs in a dug-out burrow in a hill side, or occasionally in the abandoned nest of an Orange-footed Scrubfowl. After an incubation period of 7-8 months the hatchling dragons will apply their special “egg-tooth” in breaking the egg shell to escape. Soon after hatching this egg-tooth will fall off. After breaking through the egg shell, the infant dragons are exhausted and often rest for a long time before digging their way out of the nest. As newly hatched komodo dragons are generally defenseless, they easily fall prey to a range of predators, including birds, which means that many hatchlings do not make it to adult life.
Bizarrely, roughly 10% of komodo dragons’ diet is actually made up of young komodo dragons – cannibalism! As a result, young komodo dragons spend a large part of their initial couple of years in the trees, where they find relative safety from larger dragons, as well as other potential predators. If successfully reaching maturity around the age of 3-5 years, komodo dragons often live for as long as 50 years.