Wyverns

Foreword

Ever had your face chewed on by a two to four-foot venomous dragon? No? Then you have never encountered a wyvern.

Can you keep a wyvern as a pet? Sure, but after reading about them, why would you want to? If your sparkle bunny is nibbling at your toes that hard, get a puppy.

Species Details

Family: Draconidae

Genus: Wyvernis fí (fí means vicious in Irish Gaelic)

Species: Wyvern

Size

You name it, and there’s a wyvern sized to fit the niche. Wyverns range from the size of a squirrel to the length of a horse.

Description

Essentially, wyverns look like miniature dragons with four limbs instead of six. Their forelimbs have elongated and form the arm bones of their wings. They come in a myriad of colors.

Wyverns are reptiles. They have scales, venom, and lay eggs. However, like the Ddraig, they are homeotherms and maintain a constant internal body temperature across a wide range of environmental conditions. Most mammals and birds are homeotherms.

Wyverns posses a fast-acting poison, and, like many species of venomous snakes, they can regulate its delivery. Seriously, though, the venom is really wasted on these monsters because they often start chewing before they’ve finished injecting the poison.

They are fast, very, very, very fast. Wyverns can hop, run, climb, and fly.

Gender Identification

There are subtle differences between male and female wyverns. The males tend to be smaller and more brightly colored than females. Except during mating season, males also tend to be more even-tempered – for what that’s worth.

Venom

Wyverns carry a potent neurotoxin. The really small ones are the most venomous, and one bite or sting can kill a large animal.

Both sexes and all species can control the amount of venom delivered to their victims. For example, a male will only administer enough venom to incapacitate a female during mating, providing he can get in a strike, and she doesn’t kill him first. Most defensive bites do not envenomate at all. It is the toxic bacteria in their saliva, which ultimately kills.

Temperament and Behavior

Vicious. There are no cute and cuddly wyverns. By the time someone has started to say, “Oh look, how cu….”, they are minus a face. Unless you are a Ddraig and utilize the smaller wyverns as a combination of a vulture and guard dog, they have no redeeming qualities.

Wyverns are born hunters and scavengers. Unfortunately, when the Mother created them, they missed the instructions about killing their prey before consuming it. Dead, alive, rotting, or still running, they do not care. They take one bite and immediately go into a feeding frenzy.

They are also cannibals, although this is likely only due to their short tempers and even shorter attention spans. One member of a nesting pair might awaken and forget they are nesting and eat the other one.

Despite being attention-challenged, wyverns are not stupid. They have roughly the same intelligence as a wolverine (the animal, not the X-Men). They are also cunning and sneaky. Except for themselves and the odd really angry Ddraig, they fear nothing.

Wyverns tend to live and hunt in groups called gangs. A gang of wyverns usually consists of unrelated animals of various ages. Groups have no problems with eating members of their gang if hunting has been poor. In fact, they routinely kill and eat very old and sick members of the gang. Squabbles and fights amongst the gang are common. There is no common bond amongst them. As far as they are concerned, one gang member tastes about as good as another.

Locating Wyverns

Seriously? You want to find one?

Assuming you really do want to find one, wyverns can be found everywhere. They make themselves at home in cities, valleys, forests, the odd stable, abandoned…or not so abandoned buildings…and chimneys. They love caves, hollowed-out logs, and trees; some even burrow into the ground.

They are also easy to locate by the stench of their lairs. The inside of a wyvern lair is pristine but outside…not so much. Bits of their meals litter a midden right at the entrance to the lair.

And by bits, we mean pieces and scraps. Remember the short attention spans? Well, wyverns often get a leg chewed off their latest prey item and forget what they were doing, or another wyvern drags in something that looks tastier…even if it’s long dead. Either way, fighting ensues, and whatever or whoever they were eating winds up dragged out to the midden and left.

Mating and Reproduction

They do both…a lot. Wyverns are notoriously bad mates, but they do often mate and reproduce en masse. Clutches range from five to fifty eggs depending on the size and species of the wyvern. Their offspring is a guarantee that their genes get passed along and a quick bedtime snack.

The smaller species of wyvern tend to lay two or three separate clutches of eggs at a time, cover them and leave them to their own devices. Each clutch can have up to twenty eggs, although it is unlikely more than four or five individuals from each clutch will survive. Upon hatching, the baby wyvern first break open any unhatched eggs and eat their occupants before turning on one another, leaving only the first hatched and strongest to survive. Females will lay two or three times between late spring and end of summer.

Trosqan and Skrill are the only species of wyverns that provide parental care for their offspring. Females lay one or two clutches of eggs per season, usually in the early spring and mid-summer. A Trosqan’s clutch can contain up to ten eggs but usually less than half hatch successfully. Like with the smaller species of wyverns, the unhatched eggs provide the first meal. Trosqans and Skrills construct their nests in caves and grottos, usually close to natural hot springs or over thermal hotspots, to aid in incubation. The parents – or parent if the larger female has killed her mate – will watch over the eggs and feed the hatchlings for about a month. The signal to the others that it is time to leave the nest is when mom eats one or more of their siblings.

Lifespan

20 years, providing they are fast and very lucky.

Types of Wyvern

There are numerous types of wyverns. This list contains the four most common breeds.

Vennon

The vennons are about the size of large squirrels. These are common in almost every environment with the highest concentrations in woodlands, although there are ground burrowing varieties. Their common prey ranges from very large insects, rodents, small birds, even small livestock when the pack is large enough to bring them down. Vennons tend to nest and hunt in larger packs than other wyverns. Like bats, vennons prefer to nest in large caves, open barns, or abandoned buildings but will also accumulate en masse in treetops.

Kedin

Like the vennons, kedins are indigenous to almost every known environment. They range in size from small to medium-sized birds of prey. Unlike vennons, they tend to live in smaller packs that do not remain together very long.

Trosqan

This is the second largest of the known breeds of wyverns. They range in size from medium to very large birds of prey. Trosqans create their lairs within caves, grottos, and rockfalls. This wyvern grows up to 3.25 feet in length (excluding their tails) and can have a wingspan over six feet in width. They rarely form large and long-lasting groups, but it is common for hunting groups to all converge when the prey has been located and/or killed. A lone Trosqan can bring down medium-to-large livestock and humans.

Skrill

Skrill are a variety of wyvern that have a few different characteristics. Some people have successfully tamed and bred skrill. However, it should be noted that these creatures remain as vicious as their smaller cousins. They do not become attached to the person handling them. Skrills simply refrain from eating them because they bring food.

Size

  • Full-grown: 16 – 18 feet, including the tail which is half-again the length of their bodies.
  • Hatchlings: < 2 feet
  • Juveniles: 10 – 16 feet (including the tail)

Description

Skrills have four limbs instead of six (think smaller versions of the dragons on Game of Thrones). They have two long, very powerful legs and two forearms that have elongated into the support structures for their wings.

Venom Spitting

Skrills can spit their venom. The neurotoxins and other acid-like substances blend with their thick, viscous saliva and can be sprayed on their prey from a short distance.

This substance can cause everything from mild irritation or itching to serious burning, depending on where it lands. It is next to impossible to wash off. Skrill venom can be removed with vinegar, salt water, or a brine mixture. If it gets into the eyes, it will likely lead to damage, even blindness.

Temperament and Behavior

Skrills are no less vicious than their smaller cousins. However, hatchlings actually bond with their parents. By exploiting this trait, it has been possible to quasi-domesticate them. Baby skrills also depend on their parents for food for a longer period.

Distribution

Skrills prefer mountainous regions with a warm or tropical climate.

Mating and Reproduction

Mature breeding pairs of skrills normally remain together for several breeding seasons, although they separate after their young leave the nest. Sooner or later, one of the pair will eat the other one and then have to find a new mate.

A female skrill will lay one clutch of eggs per season (usually in the spring or early summer). If something happens to the entire clutch, she might lay another one. Like with all other wyverns, the first out of the eggs eat their unhatched siblings. The parents will feed the hatchlings for several weeks. When one of the parents kills the smallest of their offspring, that is the signal for everyone to abandon the nest.

Domestication

Despite all of the negative press, one group of people have found a use for the skrills. Quite by accident, a young man living in the Howling Islands became stranded on one of the islands when his small fishing boat sank. He found an abandoned skrill nest with one egg. While waiting for rescue, he tended the egg. Knowing the evil temperament of the animals, he also laid in a stock of dried fish. Eventually, the egg hatched, and the baby skrill immediately began wailing for food. So, Cinder fed it. As the animal grew, it learned to hunt on its own, but Cinder managed to control it by supplementing what it could hunt with fish, mollusks, and other goodies from the sea.

When Cinder was finally rescued and, much to his surprise, the skrill followed him home where it promptly pounced on and ate the family dog.

Long story short, having seen the famed Morrighan on their great dragons, Cinder made a riding harness and gave the skrill a try. It was a trial, error, and a few sharp nips from the easily annoyed reptile, process, but eventually, Cinder was able to ride it.

The rest is history! The Howlers and even some of those that have become inland raiders learned to domesticate the creatures.

Domestication Process

A Howler or other person that wishes to become a Skrill Rider must first have bought or inherited an egg. They tend to the egg until the skrill hatches when they immediately feed the ravenous reptile. This causes the angry not-chicken to imprint on the person feeding them. As the skrill ages, their handler sees to it that they are deprived of all opportunities for hunting, keeping them totally dependent on the person for food and water. Full-grown wyverns cannot be domesticated after the fact. They have to be taken just before hatching to be raised and fed by their eventual rider.

When the baby skrill reaches four or five months old, they are spayed or neutered. This prevents them from the seasonal urge to find a mate. They reach a ridable size by the time they are a year old. By then, they have been wearing a training harness for several months. Unlike Ddraig, who wears no headgear, riding skrills wear a hackamore style bridle. It has no bits, but pulling the reins will cut off the skrills air supply.

Wyvern Deterrents

Wyverns are hard to eradicate and tend to return to the same lair over and over. The only thing that seems to keep them at bay is burning a lair with living wyvern inside. Most think that the scent of fear and the burned bodies of the torched wyvern serve as a warning to others.

Admin Note

Do not credit the Howler’s wyverns with too much in the way of intelligence and personality. They have far fewer smarts than a Game of Thrones wyvern (dragon). They are reptiles. They are not docile reptiles. However, they are rideable and, with effort on the part of the rider, will learn basic commands.

Wyvern Poisoning

The wyvern is one of the most venomous non-Shadow creatures known on Aereth. The males are more poisonous than the females and contain a combination of toxins, including a mild neurotoxin used to subdue females during mating or to subdue prey, which they bring back to the lair to feed their young.

Effects of the venom include severe pain and shock, limited or total paralysis, and tissue death.  A large dose can be immediately fatal to humans and human-like species. Fortunately, wyverns prefer not to expend a full dose of venom since it takes a great deal of energy to manufacture.

The venom consists of a mixture of proteins, including the hemolytic wyvustoxin, the proteinaceous verrucotoxin, and the cardiotoxic cardioleputin.

Lethality

The venom is dangerous, but the actual cause of death is usually shock because of the incredible pain combined with injury and blood loss. It is rare that envenomation results in death. The challenge to physicians is controlling pain and infection.

Symptoms

As with most toxins, a person’s reaction to wyvern venom will vary. It also depends on the amount of venom the creature administers and how large or small the animal is. The larger the wyvern species, the less potent its venom is. Additionally, females will automatically inject more venom via a bite as there are four points of contact as opposed to a single point of contact from a male’s stinger.

Like many venomous snakes, wyvern can regulate the amount of venom they inject, providing they remember to do it. The manufacture of venom costs energy and most animals will not waste it. A person can be bitten and not envenomated. However, a wyvern mouth and saliva contain extremely toxic bacteria, so immediate treatment is an absolute necessity.

A wyvern bite causes immediate, intense pain and swelling at the wound site. Swelling can spread to an entire arm or leg within minutes. If bitten in the chest or abdomen, swelling can impact internal organs.

Physical Effects

Below are symptoms of a wyvern’s venom in different parts of the body. It is highly unlikely an injured person will experience and present all of these symptoms.

Airways and lungs

  • Difficulty breathing

Cardiovascular System

  • No heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Collapse (shock)

Skin

  • Bleeding
  • Severe pain at the site of the sting
  • Whitened color of the area around the sting
  • Change to the color of the area as oxygen decreases

Stomach and Intestines

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Nervous system

  • Delirium
  • Fainting
  • Fever (from infection)
  • Headache
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Treatment and Recovery

Wash the area with fresh water. Remove any debris at the wound site. Detritus should be removed via gentle rinsing rather than rubbing the area. Soak wound in the hottest water the person can tolerate for 30 to 90 minutes. Removing any necrotic tissue or skin is also necessary.

Recovery usually takes about 24 to 48 hours. The outcome often depends on how much poisonous venom entered the body, the location of the wound, and how soon the person receives treatment. Numbness or tingling may last for several weeks. Skin breakdown and infection are sometimes severe enough to require surgery (i.e., amputation of a hand, foot, or entire limb).

*Vital signs must be monitored continuously for the first twenty-four hours (temperature, pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure).

The wound will be soaked in a cleaning solution, and any remaining debris will be removed. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

Hydration: The patient will be given clear fluids and kept hydrated with water and juice.

Pain Relief: administration of pain-relieving narcotics may be administered.

Topical Pain Relief: poultices of topical pain killers may be applied as needed.

Immersion: Hot compresses (as hot as the person can stand) are applied to the wound site or, if the wound is on a limb, the limb may be immersed in very hot water. The belief is that this will help denature the proteins in the venom. It is also possible to immerse a wounded individual in a very hot bath. However, they should be closely monitored since they can lose consciousness from the pain.

Venom Extraction: There is a compound comprised of various herbs and a liniment that is normally associated with use for sprains and tendon soreness in horses. Mixed with the compounds and stabilized in hot fat or hot bear grease wrapped in a porous cloth, this mixture will draw the venom to the surface of the wound. The poultice must be changed often and is usually alternated with the hot water treatment for the first few hours.

If available, there is a naturally occurring mineral-rich mud (natural hot mud spring) that can be used as a pack or with the poultice to reduce swelling and draw out the venom.

**Yes, the medical arts on Aereth include knowledge of how to manually monitor vital signs.

Please see the following quote from an online aquarium enthusiasts’ forum for an example of what a person might expect from a wyvern bite or sting…

I got spiked on the finger by a stonefish in Australia … never mind a bee sting. … Imagine having each knuckle, then the wrist, elbow, and shoulder being hit in turn with a sledgehammer over about an hour. Then about an hour later, imagine taking a real kicking to both kidneys for about 45 minutes so that you couldn’t stand or straighten up. I was in my late 20s, pretty fit physically, and this was the tiniest of nicks. I got sensation back in my finger after a few days but had recurrent kidney pains periodically for several years afterward.