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Animal Themes
Endangered Animals Theme Unit
Reptiles
Komodo Dragons



Komodo Dragons
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.3

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    belated, hatchling, short-distance, meat-eaters, wounded, dealing, despite, ambush, wounds, mating, failure, unique, hatchlings, flesh, stealth, flick
     content words:    Komodo Island, When Komodo, If Komodo


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Komodo Dragons   

1     Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world. They can reach a length of ten feet and a weight of over 250 pounds! Komodo dragons are endangered animals. There are only about 5,000 Komodo dragons left living on four small islands in Indonesia. Komodo dragons got their name from the island on which they were first discovered - Komodo Island. Some people also call them "Komodo Island monitors" because these animals belong to the monitor lizard group. Monitors have tapered heads, long necks, snake-like tongues, strong legs, and powerful tails. They are meat-eaters. They may attack living animals or feed on decaying meat. Savannah monitors (also known as Cape monitors) and Nile monitors are also in the family of monitors.
 
2     Despite their large size, Komodo dragons are fast short-distance runners. They can run as fast as 12 miles per hour for a brief period of time! However, Komodo dragons rarely chase after their prey. Instead, they are stealth predators. They hide and sit motionlessly for hours to wait for their food to come nearby. When Komodo dragons spot prey, they ambush it by running out of their hideouts at top speed! Komodo dragons may use different attack strategies depending on the size of their prey. If Komodo dragons are ambushing larger prey, such as a deer or a water buffalo, they attack its feet first in order to knock it off balance. If they are dealing with smaller prey, such as a bird or a young Komodo dragon, they go for its neck first.
 
3     Sometimes their attack appears to be a failure, as their prey is able to get up and run away. Nevertheless, the wounded animal is not going to live long. Komodo dragons' saliva contains deadly bacteria. When Komodo dragons launch an attack and bite their prey with their flat, serrated teeth, they also pass along their saliva to the doomed animal. The escaped animal dies hours or days later from the infected wounds.

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Endangered Animals Theme Unit
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Reptiles
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