Dr Johan and the Curious Case of the Komodo Dragon
Sometimes the STS team gets called out to assist with some unusual patients. Komodo dragons, or Komodo monitors, are the largest, heaviest lizards in the world — and one of the few with a venomous bite. Therefore, Dr. Johan, was quite apprehensive and nervous when asked to share a room with this 50 kg large creature. There he was to take radiographs of his right hindlimb, which is pointing in the wrong direction.
However, the facility staff was really excellent and got him onto the x-ray plate fairly easy. This will allow us to take images of his leg. Unfortunately it appears that his stifle is dislocated. He will receive treatment in the next few weeks.
Komodo dragons have long tails, strong and agile necks, and quite sturdy limbs. Adults are an almost-uniform stone colour with distinct, large scales. Juveniles may display a more vibrant colour and pattern. It was interesting taking x-rays through the scales, as it definitely seems to deflect the x-rays. We had to significantly increase our exposure settings.
Komodo dragons are limited to a few Indonesian islands of the Lesser Sunda group, including Rintja, Padar and Flores, and of course the island of Komodo. The largest at 22 miles long. They live in tropical savanna forests but range widely over the islands, from beach to ridge top.
All in all, a very interesting experience for the STS team, and again pleased to be able to assist with a specie that is currently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.
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