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The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), also known as the Komodo Monitor, Komodo Island Monitor, Ora (to the natives of Komodo), or simply Komodo, is the largest living species of lizard, growing to an average length of 2-3 metres (approximately 6.5-10 feet). This great length is attributed to island gigantism, as there are no carnivorous mammals to fill the niche in the islands that they live on, and the Komodo dragon's low metabolic rate. As a result of its great size, these lizards are apex predators, dominating the ecosystems in which they live. Komodo dragons are a member of the monitor lizard family Varanidae, and the clade Toxicofera. They only inhabit the islands of Komodo, Rinca (or Rintja), Padar, Flores, Gili Motang, Owadi and Samiin in central Indonesia.
Parental care in Komodo dragons is restricted to the females, who guard clutches of around 20 eggs for seven months. After hatching, young Komodo dragons often move into trees in order to avoid predation by adults. Young dragons take five years to reach maturity, after which they can live for fifty years. In captivity Komodo dragons have reproduced by parthenogenesis.
In spite of their large size, Komodo dragons were only discovered by Western scientists in 1910. Their large size and fearsome reputation makes them popular zoo exhibits. In the wild their range has contracted due to human activities and they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. They are protected under Indonesian law and a national park was founded in order to protect them.