Friday, December 05, 2014

Dinner with a Dragon

I'm sure Phil Bronstein has dined out for years on his story about being attacked by a Komodo Dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo. Failing that, he can always resort to describing his married life to Sharon Stone which sounds remarkably similar.

I can hear the zoo keeper suggesting, "It's a good idea to remove those white shoes and socks before we enter the Komodo enclosure. Komodo's snack on white rats...better safe than sorry."
And I was worried about fleas on the beach!!!

Probably nobody guessed that feet could be as white as Phil's were. Then he was the editor of the San Francisco Examiner and one would surmise he spent most of his days behind a desk with very little time to tan his tootsies. Phil walked into the enclosure and the Komodo promptly attacked him. He was hurt so badly he required surgery to reconnect tendons. I can imagine the dragon was probably a little embarassed once he realized a fancy schmancy editor was attached to his would-be snack.

Phil comported himself bravely and actually pried open the Komodo's jaws and released himself.

We're visiting Komodo Island next week and learning from Phil's experience we know to stay out of striking distance from one of these creatures, the largest lizards on earth. They look lethargic and slow moving but they can be lightening fast and deadly. 

Snacking is not a natural part of the komodo diet. The creature's eating routine is so gross I can assure you if you're ever invited to dine with a dragon, say NO, NO, No.

How bad is it? Really bad.

They eat about twelve times a year, so it's pretty unlikely you'll get an invitation anyway. A whole goat or a deer is the preferred bill of fare in the natural habitat on Komodo Island but the dragon doesn't have sufficient tooth or tearing power to tear a goat into manageable pieces. Instead, it attempts to swallow the whole goat and weak peristalsis in the throat means the goat frequently gets stuck part way down. So, when a dragon is sitting there with 2/3rd's of a goat sticking out of it's mouth, what does it do? Why it runs up against a tree of course and tries to slam the goat down the gullet. If one run doesn't do it, it continues to try two or three times or until the tree is knocked down. The polite dinner guest will avoid drawing attention to this bizarre behavior and keep on eating, eyes down.

You'd think suffocation would be a danger from this kind of eating, but the dragon has a small tube under the tongue that connects to the lungs and allows it to continue to breathe despite the ruckus.

After eating up to 80% of it's body weight it drags itself to a sunny location to speed digestion. Sounds like my family after Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm not even going to mention the bloody red saliva dripping from the Komodo mouth - or the gastric pellet it regurgitates "covered in malodorous mucous (Wiki)", a mass of bones, hair and horns. After it coughs up one of these monstrous hair balls it rubs it's face in the dirt attempting to get away from it's own horrible smell. 

Nor will I mention the Dragon breath - a mild description of the horrible emanations from a Komodo mouth.

Nor will I mention that in a pinch, the Dragon digs up human corpses from shallow graves. Hey, any port in a storm!! It's not like they can go to In-N-Out once a month if there's a lean month with no deer or goat on the menu. Villagers on Komodo have learned to bury their dead in deep graves with stones piled on top.

We're hoping our timing for the Komodo visit ends up being between meals.

Besides the dragons which are dwindling in numbers, there's a population of over two thousand people living on the island: the people are descendants of former convicts who were exiled to the island. They recognize five genders: men, women, Calalai or "false men" (who sound like gay women), Calabai or "false women" (who sound from the description like gay men) and Bissu who are "gender transcendent", whatever that means. Complicated.


  1. disgusting creature.

    1. I agree. So disgusting it's interesting.

  2. So California isn't weird enough for you?

  3. I'm so glad you didn't mention what you said you wouldn't mention because I was eating breakfast!
    I can't wait to hear about the "gender transcendent". Maybe it means people who aren't concerned about the whole thing!