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Dragon

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Dragon
Type avian mammal
Geographical Information
Climate varies
Locale varies
Physical Description
Avg. Height
Avg. Weight
Colouring varies
Description
Incidental Information
Domestication no

Dragons are wild, reptile-like creatures, with large leathery wings. In no case should dragons be considered reptiles, despite obvious similarities such as appearance and reproduction by laying eggs. In fact, dragons are more akin to feline creatures than reptiles, particularly in regards to their posture and movements, as well as being inherently warm-blooded and an eye composition similar to felines, although far more complex. A good example of this is the placement of the legs: Reptiles have their legs placed on the sides of their body, while most mammals have them placed underneath their body- dragons also tend to place their rear foot where their front foot was previously, much like most stalking feline predators.

Contents

Physical characteristics

Dragon subspecies differ strongly in size, tending to increase proportionally with latitude. Large male Snow Dragons can reach a total length of 3.5 m and a weight of 306 kg. Apart from those exceptional large individuals, male snow dragons usually have a head and body length of 190–220 cm and an average weight of 227 kg (the tail of a dragon is 60–110 cm long). Females are smaller, those of the snow or cliff subspecies weigh only between 100 and 181 kg. Isle dragons like the darthaan subspecies are much smaller than mainland dragons and weigh usually only 100–140 kg in males and 75–110 kg in females.

The structure of the open wing is very similar to an outspread human hand with a membrane between the fingers that also stretches between hand and body. The dragon's wingspan is exactly 2.5 times that of their length (including tail).

Dragons come in various colours, depending on their geographical and environmental locations. They have been known to be varying shades of green, blue, red, gold, black, white, and brown.

Biology and behaviour

Adult dragons are fiercely territorial. The size of a dragon's home range mainly depends on prey abundance, and, in the case of male dragons, on access to females. A dragoness may have a territory of 20 km² while the territories of males are much larger, covering 60–100 km². While females can at times be aggressive towards other females, their territories can overlap and they do tolerate each other. Males, however, are usually intolerant of other males within their territory. Because of their aggressive nature, territorial disputes can be violent, and may end in the death of one of the males. Male dragons can mingle easily with females in their territories and will even share kills. Females are often reluctant to let males near their dragonets, but some can make no effort to protect or keep their dragonets from the male. This behaviour may suggest that the male might be the father of the dragonets. Male dragons will allow the females and dragonets to feed on the kill first. Females will also share kills, even more so than the males. They are also much more tolerant of sharing kills with individuals of the same sex.

As far as their senses, which vary slightly depending on subspecies, they are superior in most ways to other creatures - like any predator, they have exceptionally acute senses, which only increase with age. Like avian creatures, they have excellent depth perception and comparably good peripheral vision, able to see twice as well as a human in daylight- unlike avians, they have great night vision, and are able to see even when condition have no light to offer, the only drawback being that there is a lack of color in such circumstances.

Dragons can also pick up scents very well, utilizing both their sensitive nose and forked tongue, much like a snake. Their hearing is on par with human hearing, and their minds can differentiate the sounds it hears. Dragon taste is also refined, although they do not respond well to sweet flavors. Of all its senses, a dragon's sense of touch is the only one to decrease throughout age.

Hunting and diet

In the wild, dragons mostly feed on larger and medium sized animals. Like many predators, they are opportunistic and will eat much smaller prey.

They also may kill other formidable predators, although predation is rare and the predators typically avoid one another. Dragons sometimes prey on domestic animals such as dogs, cows, horses and donkeys. These individuals are termed cattle-lifters or cattle-killers in contrast to typical game-killers. Especially old and injured dragons have been known to attack humans and are then termed as man-eaters, which often leads to them being captured or killed.

Hunting methods

Dragons' extremely strong jaws and sharp teeth make them superb predators. Dragons hunt alone and prefer medium to large sized herbivores. They ambush their prey as other predators do, overpowering them from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock large prey off balance. Dragons prefer to bite the throats of large prey and use their muscled forelimbs to hold onto the prey, bringing it to the ground. The dragon remains latched onto the neck until its prey dies. With small prey, the dragon bites the nape, often breaking the spinal cord, piercing the windpipe, or severing the jugular vein or carotid artery. The prey is killed instantly.

They have been reported to carry domestic livestock weighing 50 kg (110 lb) easily while in flight. Their heavily muscled forelimbs are used to hold tightly onto the prey and to avoid being dislodged, especially by large prey. The combination of claws and power behind a dragon's forelimbs enables it to kill an adult human with one swipe.

Reproduction

Dragons become sexually mature when 2 to 4 years old; females mature about six months earlier than males. Dragons are oviparous. A female is only receptive for a few days and mating is frequent during that time period. A pair will copulate frequently and noisily. Dragon eggs are shiny and whitish in color. The number of eggs laid each time depends on the subspecies of the dragon, but is usually low (between one and ten). The eggs are incubated by the females. The gestation period is 35 to 45 days. The females rear them alone. Wandering male dragons may kill dragonets to make the female receptive. At 8 weeks, the dragonets are ready to fly for the fist time. The dragonets become independent around 18 months of age, but it is not until they are around 2–2½ years old that they leave their mother. The dragonets reach sexual maturity by 3–4 years of age. The female dragons generally own territory near their mother, while males tend to wander in search of territory, which they acquire by fighting and eliminating another male. Over the course of her life, a female dragon will give birth to an approximately equal number of male and female dragonets.

Habitat

Dragons are found in a variety of habitats, including both tropical and evergreen forests, woodlands, grasslands, rocky country, swamps, steppes and mountainous areas, and savannahs. The dragon is also a strong swimmer; dragons are often found bathing in ponds, lakes, and rivers.

A dragon marks its territory with a strong mix of urine and other bodily fluids marked on trees, bushes, rocks, and soil. This territory can vary from only a few square miles in area, to over fifty square miles. It is a common trend of these territories that a males will encompass ground taken by a female. Dragons defend their territory fiercely and actively.

Sub-Species

  • Cliff dragon
  • Darthaan
  • Green dragon
  • Sand dragon
  • Snow dragon
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This page was last modified on 3 February 2009, at 17:12.
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