Zoo’s new arrival really slays them

Raja is the first komodo dragon to call Perth Zoo home.
Raja is the first komodo dragon to call Perth Zoo home.

The zoo’s newest inhabitant is young Raja and, although relatively unthreatening in appearance now, he will grow into a 70kg reptile over the next five years.

It is the first time a komodo dragon has been on display at the zoo.

With a mouthful of long, curved, serrated teeth, one or two bites from an adult komodo dragon is enough to bring down a deer.

Its venom induces shock and stops the prey’s blood from clotting.

The dragon is the largest lizard in the world but, at just 18 months old and 2.1kg, Raja still has a lot of growing to do. Perth Zoo operations curator John Lemon said in addition to their fearsome reputation, komodo dragons had some impressive traits.

‘To survive during long periods of low prey density they can eat up to 80 per cent of their own body weight at a time,’ he said.

‘And their keen sense of smell enables them to locate food from as far away as 10km if the wind conditions are right.’

In the wild, komodo dragons are found on a handful of Indonesian islands, including Komodo Island, which is where they get their name.

They are the dominant predator on the islands where they bring down prey ranging from water buffalo to lizards and chickens.