JAKARTA (AFP) – Three young Komodo dragons have gone missing from a zoo in Indonesia, a spokesman said Tuesday, warning that the lost lizards were dangerous and fast on their feet.
The missing reptiles, which measured 50 centimetres (20 inches) to a metre long, were each around one year old and disappeared from their cage early this month, Surabaya zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat told AFP.
"We're worried if the Komodo dragons escaped. They're dangerous. Young Komodos like the ones missing love to climb trees and can move very fast."
The zoo has more than 50 of the giant lizards and trees in the cage had been trimmed to prevent any of the remaining animals escaping, Supangkat added.
"They could have been eaten by predators, stolen or escaped. The zookeepers have said they didn't take them. The police are still investigating."
Until recently Komodo dragons were believed to hunt with a "bite and wait" strategy using toxic bacteria in their saliva to weaken or kill their prey, before descending in numbers to feast.
But in 2005 researchers found that dragons' jaws are armed with highly sophisticated poison glands that can cause paralysis, spasms and shock through haemorrhaging.
The world's largest monitor lizard, Komodos can grow up to three metres (10 feet) long and weigh up to 140 kilograms (310 pounds). They are unique to a small group of islands in eastern Indonesia.