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(Vulpelutra ballusshrogus)
Artwork of Ballshrog
Species is extant.
Creator colddigger Other
Vulpelutra ballusshrogus
Week/Generation 27/166
Habitat Maineiac Bush
Size 80 cm long
Support Endoskeleton (Bone)
Diet Carnivore (Teacup Saucebacks, Minikruggs, Vermees, Sapworms, Silkruggs)
Respiration Active (Lungs)
Thermoregulation Endotherm (Fur)
Reproduction Sexual (Male and Female, Live Birth, Milk)

The ballshrog split from its ancestor the Maineiac Rivershrog and moved away from the river in order to colonize the sparse and flat Maineiac Bush. They live in family units based around a dominant mating pair, with several generations of their litters living alongside them sharing in the rearing of their younger siblings. Their nests have returned to a spherical shape, simplifying to have a single Central chamber comprising essentially the entire nest. The nest is made from thin strips of wood as well as more flexible thin dry pieces of Flora weaved together to create a lightweight, insulating, and durable wall. The walls of these nests are woven in such a manner that there are quite a few points of visibility through it that can be closed off if needed but typically left open. Within this wall various shaped pieces of wood can be stored for example extra pieces for patching damage, as well as storage for hunting spears, or short prying pieces of wood and clubs; both of which are used for food processing.

The nest itself is mobile across the ground, the entire family acting as a unit to move it comparable to the movement of a hamster ball. On either side of this unit, during mobilization, each parent will be placed, and the term for each of them will be used to decide the direction that the family will begin moving the ball. If one of the members spots an object of interest while the ball is in motion it will begin to bark out the name of the parent in the direction that it believes the nest should be moving, the orientation of its somewhat ornate head will cause other members to look and try to observe its focus of interest. If they find the decision agreeable they will join in barking the parents name and when a majority consensus is agreed upon then the mass will drift in that direction and shift the movement of the nest.

Hunting is often performed inside the nest itself just jabbing a thin spear through its wall when a prey item is spotted, impaling it and then quickly pulling it in to be eaten, shared, or stored in the nest walls. Running over prey items using the nest itself to squash and trample, while simultaneously impaling with thin Spears, is also a method of hunting, though more often used on larger or opportunistic prey that may be more avoidant or difficult to subdue. Food that is stored is either smashed flat, spatchcocked, or turned into strips that are then stashed into the inner walls to dry or ferment.

Venturing outside of the nest for hunting is less common but does occur if the nest is not in movement and no prey can be found for a period of time. More typically if a member is outside of the nest it's either to deal with bodily waste or to obtain water.

The ballshrog reaches maturity after about 5 years although offspring often stay twice as long in a nest to aid in rearing their younger siblings. After that time they will leave the nest to search for a mate in the wild, this being the most dangerous point in their life purely due to exposure to the elements and potential to quickly run out of resources. If a mate is found and is agreeable with them then they will both work together to build a simple nest to protect them from the elements. They will, as a pair, work together to move the nest around, hiding and hunting in it, until their first litter is large enough to be able to move on their own and help move the nest. As their family grows the nest will expand with it to accommodate.

During a wildfire in the dry bush The first reaction that the ballshrog has is to flee while within their nest, if they're able to determine that it's far away then they continue as the normally do but in the opposite direction. If the wildfire is encroaching rapidly enough to cause major turn to them then often one of the parents will abandon the nest first and quickly the rest of the family will follow. As a group they will flee the wildfire on foot, their nest is generally made of very good kindling and it's safer for them to escape without it. If they manage to survive the wildfire then they will wander as a group until they come across a source of building material that they can use to begin rebuilding there nest. This period of time is of course dangerous for them because they lack any protection from the elements, as well as having lost any spears that they would use for hunting.

As the days grow shorter, and the onset of winter is imminent, the nest increases its food storage as well as the thickness of its walls so the central chamber begins to fill in with insulating fluff and dry flora. Once the walls become so thick that the inside of the nest has become too cramped for comfort the ballshrogs stop moving their nest and hunker down.

They begin to build over the nest further increasing the thickness of the walls from the outside using thatching and send pieces of wood, essentially building a second nest wall unattached to the original nest. The secondary wall has little organization to it compared to the primary wall of the nest, the main structure to it is essentially thin strips of wood and a pocket of air directly above the primary wall in order to wick away water from entering the core of the nest from above, as well as a few basic ventilation shafts and a single inconspicuous entry point.

This very thick double layered nest allows them to stay well insulated from the cold of the outside world, the secondary wall also provides heat through its own decomposition while the primary wall experiences far less decomposition, though it still experiences some and must be cleaned up in spring. Once winter passes then the wet and decomposing pile that remains of the secondary wall is pushed aside and the ball-shaped nest is removed from the center, spruced up, patched and is brought back into commission.

Getting enough food in this biome can be rough. Sometimes the best source of food turns out to be another nest. Although nests will completely ignore any lone ballshrog wandering around, often being a venturing virgin off to build their own nest, if instead another nest is spotted then it's free game. Nests that appear to have been recently abandoned are preferable due to the sheer lack of danger, they do tend to be less bountiful in stored food, and active nests can be profitable targets especially in late summer, if care is taken.

If a nest decides to attempt a raid on another that is active it will approach its target while sizing it up, a smaller nest means there are fewer members to deal with. It's rare that a nest is actually able to sneak up on another, and a chase is almost sure to occur. The pursuing nest will attempt to flank it's target and force several spears between them to lock them together and cease the motion. These spears are broken near their back end into a hook shape which prevents their ease of removal by the assailed nest members.

Once locked together a pathway between both walls begins to quickly be opened, this is the most dangerous point during the boarding as the nest being raided will very actively fight back using their own spears, luckily for the raiders this spearing blindly through two walls can be difficult, all of the raiders really need to do is avoid being stabbed and grasp the first spear that they can and yank it away. Eventually their target will run out of spears and become all the more helpless.

As the danger of weapons with reach is removed and the raiding party is able to board the targeted nest with clubs, normally used for food processing, they beat the other disarmed nest members and chase them out of their home. Now free to do as they wish they strip the inner walls of all its food and quickly stash it into their own nest. This process is done with little concern for the nest being raided, and can be quite messy, however their goal is not the destruction of the nest but rather to simply take its resources. Once all the food is gone they simply patch up the passageway in their own wall and leave. The members of the raided nest return to there now empty and somewhat disheveled home, defeated and in dire need of repairing their only safety from the world. Luckily it's rare that the major wooden structures of the nest are disturbed, more typically it's the smaller structures and thatched weaving that is destroyed.

Although leaving ones own nest to another with the intent to steal is less noticeable to a target, even if a raiding party were to attempt to emulate a solitary virgin drifter, if they were to start just scratching at the outer wall of a nest to access the inner wall where the food is stored they would quickly draw attention to themselves and put themselves in far more immediate danger than if they were to attempt the more typical boarding process inside their own home. This choice of action would immediately be responded to with the standard rapid stabbing action of multiple spears toward them, a behavior taken up when the nest is under attack by any outside source of danger tearing at their walls.