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  • Peter Fane

A note on Mottled jungle-droppers . . .

MOTTLED JUNGLE-DROPPER (“Spotted Dropper;” “Dropper,” also “Beetle Wyrm,” or “Balloon Drake”) The mottled jungle-dropper inhabits the humid jungles and swamps of southern Junór. While some smaller populations that exhibit slightly different characteristics have been documented in central Junór, these are too rare to be of interest to the pragmatic trainer or breeder. Droppers are natural predators. While they can be trained into service, if raised in captivity or taken early from a wild nest, they are best used as interceptors and/or hunters of Dávanor’s other small dragons, a task for which they require little instruction and at which they excel. Their natural temperament is aggressive, voracious, and belligerent. As a breed, Droppers are one of the duchy’s most hostile. As noted, they can be trained into messenger service, especially when bred for it, but they are easily distracted as their prey drive is high. Droppers are savagely loyal and, in defensive roles, they can be extremely effective. Like the red-throated blood wyvern, Droppers should never be lodged with other small breeds. In the wild, Dropper are solitary hunters and nest only for the purposes of breeding. Broods will be small. These will consist of one male, one or two females, and associated young, usually only one or two foals. Nests will not be constructed, but rather consist of any convenient nook or hole. Wild trapping is hazardous and should be attempted only by specialists with extensive experience with the breed. Both females and males hunt, often together, for extended periods of time. They are fiercely territorial. Conflict often takes place between males and females after foals have left the nest; this combat is often lethal. Droppers are pure carnivores. They will eat almost anything that moves. Favorites include armor beetles, birds of any sort, small mammals, and almost any other small breed of dragon. Droppers have proportionally enormous flight bladders that grant a great deal of dexterity in the air. Once fixed on a target, they are both relentless and fast. They are also quite cunning and will often track their prey, ascend, then drop upon it from above, hence their name. Their teeth are many, small, and sharp, perfect for cracking beetle shells or dragon skulls. They have keen eyes and hunt almost exclusively by sight. Subtle camouflage effects have been observed in some domesticated lines, most notably those bred by House Fel. Typical colors: yellow, orange, light red with random spots of blue, green, or black; undercarriage is marked by a distinct split in the carapace allowing for large flight bladder expansion, most notably in males. Typical wingspan: (f) 7-8 palms [ca. 50-60 cm]; (m) 8-9 palms [ca. 60-70 cm] Typical length: (f) 8-9 palms [ca. 60-70 cm]; (m) 9-11 palms [ca. 65-85 cm] Typical lifespan: 140-180 years Horned? No. Crested? No. Toothed? Yes. Venomous? No. This text was adapted from my field notes with some references made to Katherine II's "The Smaller Dragons of Davanor. A Preliminary Taxonomy" (F.Y. 190). Illustration is by High Lady Milica Celikovic.

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