Dartscales

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Dartscales
Information
Natural Habitat: Across Pentland
Classification: Reptile
Average Size: 2'-3'
Average Weight: .5-3 lbs
Coloring: Varies
Distinguishing Features: Brightly colored, 4 legs and 2 wings, crested and horned head. Small in size, able to change color to communicate and blend into surroundings.



Description

Dartscales are the common Pentlander name for the smallest of the dragons. Their appearance is similar to a miniature version of the wyrms. They rarely grow over 2 feet (excluding a 1' long tail) in length with only the dominant male of the area, the bull, able to reach 3 feet (excluding 1.5' long tail). The wingspan of each is roughly twice as long as their body, between 4.5' and 6.75', to sustain flight over the mile or so they're capable of flying. Their weight is considerably less than their terrestrial cousins at only 1-3 pounds and the only part of their skeleton that isn't hollow are their horns, claws and teeth. It makes them delicate but that's a small price to pay for sustained flight. Bull dartscales trade in true flight for gliding in order to maintain breeding rights and to fight off smaller males.

Due to the lizard's chameleon-like ability to change color they can take on virtually any coloration and pattern that they desire. Their natural pigmentation tends to match whatever habitat they reside in. The size and shape of their crest and horn vary depending on region but their wings and other morphology tends to stay the same.

Habitat

Dartscales can be found all across the Pentland islands and their morphology varies depending on the region they call home. The rocky Arrantiada shoreline brings white to medium grey lizards with smaller, stronger wings to help propel them through shallow waters for small fish. Deeper into Arrantiada they're tan with dark patches to match with the Krimian Pine groves, sandy soil and dunes. Spines run down their backs and tail for an added bite to would-be predators and to mimic the explosive pine trees. Female dartscales in the Pentland interior have a brown appearance with dark green mottling to match the Thymvraan Oak trees they call home.

Most curious are the glowscale subspecies found to the west of Valgarde in the lush groves of Iridion Trees. The Wyrdant Nightshade provide shelter, a home and nesting area while the Feyglow fungi attract the insects that glowscales feed on at night. Time spent with the fungi have led to the lizards taking on a measure of bioluminescence so it blends in more effectively at night. Somewhere along the line it developed the ability to generate electrical charges from the hundreds of tiny filaments on their bodies. One shock is usually enough to deter most predators. If many are close together and shock at once a surge can be created that would kill a human.

Trading and stowaway lizards have introduced them to other parts of the world with a growing population taking root in Cabalos Islands, Azaan and Bahija. They pose a threat to some flightless birds and insects, particularly ones with a naturally low population, as an invasive species. The only areas they can't gain a foothold in are the ones too cold to support reptilian life year around.

Breeding Habits

Males and females are dimorphic with males having larger crests and horns than female. Some coloration can vary but, aside from those on the mainland, they share the same basic palette. During the mating period the bull male takes on a garish coloration that makes him stick out from both his fellow dartscales but also the native flora as well. Red and orange are common, as are contrasting colors running along their body in varied designs. Rutting takes place for a few weeks just prior to the rainy season as younger males fight to usurp the bull and win mating rights.

They mate during the spring and lay clutches between 6 and 8 eggs in whatever nest they built. Incubation period lasts 2-3 weeks and the hatchlings are roughly 3" in length. At this point the mother leaves the nest and goes on about her business, leaving the young to fend for themselves. Adult dartscales may eat their young if presented with an opportunity.

For the first couple days of their lives the young will live off their yolk sacs before moving on to devouring small flies. Growth rate is fast and within a few months they'll be juveniles. The next springtime they'll be ready to mate and hatch their own young.

Other Characteristics

Some varieties of dartscales help to pollinate the vegetation that they call home. Glowscales are thought to carry spores from one grouping of fungi to another while feeding on the insects their glow attracts.

Harassed dartscales turn black and darken while stressed. They have a meager touch of intelligence and have been known to grow fond of their keepers. Some are brighter than others but beyond some basic commands they're animals.