Hematology, Serum Chemistry, and Selected Nutritional Values of the Wild Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 1997
Don Gillespie1, DVM; Frederic L. Frye2, DVM, MSC, C Biol, FI Biol; Putra Sastrawan3, MSC; Terry Fredeking4; John Arnett5
1Kansas City Zoological Gardens, Kansas City, MO, USA; 2Davis, CA, USA; 3Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia; 4Antibody Systems, Inc., Hurst, TX, USA; 5Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, OH, USA


The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the world’s largest lizard and occupies the smallest range of any large carnivore in the world. Currently this varanid is listed in Appendix I (species threatened with extinction) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In various books and media presentations the bite of this species is supposed to transmit deadly bacteria with death resulting from subsequent sepsis. As part of a comprehensive plan to evaluate this possibility further, normal physiologic values were collected on 11 animals during November 1996. Samples were assayed for vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, trace mineral levels, and routine serum chemistries were performed. Complete hemograms were also performed on each animal. Data collected can be used for better captive management and to help determine potential problems in the wild population. Based on limited sample size and concurrent field biology studies, no significant toxic, infectious, or nutritional problems have been identified in Komodo dragons on the island of Komodo. These data will be used as part of a larger study including virology, parasitology, and microbiology to explore the immune system of this species. Further field studies are planned to expand sample size and for comparison with normal values of captive specimens.


The authors would like to thank the Columbus Zoo Conservation Fund and the Pittsburgh Zoo Conservation Fund for their generous support in sample analyses.


Speaker Information
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Don Gillespie, DVM
Kansas City Zoological Gardens
Kansas City, MO, USA

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