Fry surgically removed a venom gland from a terminally ill Komodo at Singapore Zoo for the study, and said it contained a toxic poison which would induce strong stomach cramps, hypothermia and a drop in blood pressure.

Komodo dragon at a glance

 Adult male Komodo dragons weigh in at about 100kg and exceed 3m in length.

 Deer are its common prey.

 Australian research has found the lizard uses sharp, serrated teeth to open gaping wounds in its prey into which venom easily flows.

 The wounds naturally bleed profusely while compounds in the venom increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure, inducing shock in the victim.

 The new findings debunk a common belief the dragon's prey is killed by deadly bacteria in rotting food stuck in its mouth.

He also said the venom also blocked the ability for blood to clot.

"Such a fall in blood pressure would be debilitating in conjunction with blood loss and would render the envenomed prey unable to escape," Fry told the AFP news agency.

"These results are congruent with the observed unusual quietness and apparent rapid shock of prey items."

Komodos are the world's heaviest lizard, weighing at around 100kg and growing up to three metres in length.

They are native to several Indonesian islands and are considered a vulnerable species, with only a few thousand left in the world.

They live on a diet of large mammals, reptiles and birds but have been known to attack humans.