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May 30, 2024

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Meet 9-feet-long 'Lil Sebastian at Nashville Zoo!

Meet 9-Feet-Long ‘Lil Sebastian at Nashville Zoo

See the the largest habitat on the continent housing the largest lizard on earth at Nashville Zoo beginning July 27.

Attention, reptile-lovers! Nashville Zoo opens a new Komodo dragon habitat to the public on Thursday, July 27. This is the largest Komodo dragon habitat in the Americas! The spacious low-lying dragon home is built for two adult males, three adult females and juvenile Komodo dragons.

See the Zoo’s Komodo dragons, including ‘Lil Sebastian the biggest dragon in the habitat measuring nine feet in length. This species is the largest and heaviest lizard on earth — they reach up to 10 feet in length and weight over 300 pounds. Komodo dragons are dominant predators with powerful jaws and a toxic bite. In the wild, they ambush deer, goats, pigs, horses and water buffalo.

Compared to crocodiles and other reptiles, Komodo dragons have relatively weak bite strength. But they have sharp, curved, serrated teeth and long, sturdy claws to slash and tear at prey with astonishing force. A Komodo dragon’s killing power includes venom and bacteria. The sharp, serrated shape of its teeth hold harmful bacteria that can cause untreated bite wounds to become septic. The dragon’s venom lives in a gland in the dragon’s lower jaw. This venom prevents a prey’s blood from clotting, which causes massive blood loss and induces shock. Even larger prey animals like water buffaloes may succumb to their wounds after escaping an initial attack— although it may take days of infection for that to happen.


About Nashville Zoo’s Komodo dragon habitat

The new Komodo dragon habitat is located by the Zoo’s HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center. The habitat features outdoor viewing areas from an elevated view with several vantage points. A large viewing window offers eye-level viewing when the dragons are inside. Interactive learning elements round out the exhibit, teaching visitors all about Komodo dragons. 

The species (Varanus komodoensis) are native to the tropical Lesser Sunda Indonesian Islands and are endangered. Nashville Zoo participates in the Komodo Dragon Species Survival Plan to help ensure genetically diverse dragon populations in human care. Nashville Zoo partners with Komodo Survival Program, an organization dedicated to Komodo dragon educational initiatives and conservation work in the wild.

In addition to Komodo dragons, this exhibit will feature crocodile monitors and red-crowned cranes. Komodo dragons will be visible in the outdoor section of the habitat during warmer months while crocodile monitors, the second longest lizard species, will be visible from the viewing window. Crocodile monitors are a large, arboreal species native to New Guinea and have long dark-colored bodies with bright yellow spots and patterns. During colder months, see the Komodo dragons in their climate-controlled, indoor habitat while red-crowned cranes, a winter-hardy bird enjoy the outdoor habitat space.

To learn more about the new Komodo dragon habitat, visit

Photos & renderings

Komodo dragon


About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.