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 heels that hard, buy a puppy.

Species Details

Species: Wyvern (animal)
Class: Dracos arcanus

There are three species grouped within the family of creatures known as the dracos (dracos arcanus). Draconians are not reptiles although they share some characteristics with them.

Description

Size

You name it, and there’s a wyvern sized to fit the niche. Some wyverns are no bigger than squirrels. Other species reach the size of Griffin Eagles (two – four foot in length discounting tail).

Appearance & Physiology

Wyverns resemble quasi-bipedal miniature dragons. They come in a myriad of colors, have shorter forearms with curving claws and clawed hind feet.

They are primitive endotherms (akin to birds and mammals) rather than cold-blooded. Their ability to regulate their internal temperature, unlike other mammals, is rudimentary. Wyverns cannot tolerate extreme cold temperatures and hibernate during the winter. They are egg layers although the eggs are incubated for a period within the mother’s body cavity (egg chamber or womb). Once the shells are fully formed, though not yet completely hardened, the female lays them in a nest that is usually located somewhere quite hot (volcanic caverns, near thermal springs, etc.).

Wyverns posses a fast acting poison and, like many species of venomous snakes, they can regulate its delivery. Seriously, though, the venom is wasted on these little buggers because they often start chewing before they’ve finished injecting the poison. Due to their diet of meat and carrion, even dry bites often become infected very quickly.

They are fast, very very very fast. They can hop, run, climb, and fly. They hunt solo and in packs (or flocks) or pairs.

Gender Identification

It is actually easy to tell a male wyvern from a female wyvern. The males have a scorpion-like tail with a sharp barb on the end which they use as a weapon and for subduing females during mating to avoid being eaten. Oddly enough, once mating is done, females will accept the presence of a male unless something annoys her, then all bets are off.

Although a female may sport a tail with barbs, they are not poisonous. Her poison is contained in venom sacs in her jaws (upper and lower) at the base of her upper and lower fangs. Females whose wings are attached to the front legs have poison glands at the base of the wing claws.

Venom

Wyverns carry a potent neurotoxin. The larger the species, the less potent its venom is. The really small ones are the most venomous and one bite or sting can kill a large animal. The larger species’ venom is less concentrated but still quite dangerous. It can kill or permanently disable a grown person.

Both sexes and all species can control the amount of venom delivered to their victim. For example, a male will only administer enough venom to incapacitate a female during mating providing he can strike first, and she doesn’t kill him.

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 wyverns as sort of vultures/guard dogs, they have no redeeming qualities.

Wyverns are born hunters and scavengers. Unfortunately, when they were created, 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. Your average gnat can focus longer than a wyvern. One 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. So far, except themselves and the odd really angry Ddraig, they fear nothing.

Wyverns rarely travel or hunt entirely alone, and they will share dens and lairs for the sake of warmth. Hunting cooperatives will form but normally these are limited to very small groups as the temptation to eat one another is usually overwhelming. In most cases, large groups will only cooperate in a killing and feeding frenzy if other groups have been lured in by the sounds and smell of a successful hunt.

Where to Find Wyverns

Seriously? You want to find one?

Wyverns can be found, assuming you really do want to find one, everywhere. If the climate gets too cold, the nasty things bromate in warrens that hold hundreds. 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.

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 do mean bits. 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 mass. Clutches range from twenty to fifty eggs depending on the size and species of the wyvern. Offspring guarantee their genes get passed along. They are also a quick and nutritious bedtime snack.

The smaller species of wyvern tend to lay two or three separate clutches of eggs, 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 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.

Hogofs are the only species of wyvern that provide parental care for their offspring. Females lay one clutch of eggs per season, usually in the spring. Clutches 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. Hogofs 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

The really fast and lucky ones can last twenty years and lay two clutches of eggs per year.

Types of Wyvern

There are numerous types of wyverns, and most have been documented by scholars who specialize in the natural world. In general, however, most people on Gaia simply designate them based on their size. The three main categories are listed below.

Rocs

Rocs are the smallest of the animals and only 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 is very large insects, small to medium rodents up to small livestock when the pack is large enough to bring them down. Rocs tend to nest and hunt in larger packs than other types of wyverns. Like bats, Rocs prefer to nest in large caves, open barns, or abandoned buildings but will also accumulate en masse in treetops.

Cyfrwng

In Heniaith, the Cymry Old Language, cyfrwng literally means medium. This has come to be synonymous with the most abundant variety of wyverns. Like the rocs, cyfrwng are indigenous to almost every known environment. They are comparable in size with small to medium birds of prey. Unlike rocs, they tend to live in smaller packs that do not remain together very long and usually form just before cold weather when the animals brumate ( the reptilian version of hibernating).

Hogof

In Heniaith, hogof means cave or grotto. These are the largest known types of wyverns. They range in size from medium to very large birds of prey and get their name from their predilection for creating their lairs within caves, grottos, and rock-falls. Hogofs can reach up to 3.25 feet in length (excluding their tails) and have a wingspan of over six feet. They rarely form large and long-lasting groups, but it is common for hunting groups to all converge when prey has been located and/or killed.

A single hogof can bring down prey up to the size of medium to large livestock and even humans.

Note: The different species of wyvern do not usually share a den or lair as the larger ones tend to view smaller ones as bedtime snacks.

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.

Wyvern Poisoning

The wyvern is one of the most venomous non-Shadow creature known on Gaia. 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 fatal to humans, generally young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

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

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 alone 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. Therefore, it is possible that a person will not be severely envenomated when bitten or stung by a wyvern.

Note: Wyvern in an attack or feeding frenzy will almost always inject copious amounts of venom. Even if they don’t, there is a small amount that will be injected as a matter of course because it has dripped into venom tubes in the fangs or tail stinger.

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

Below are symptoms of a wyvern sting 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 wound
  • Change to the color of the area as oxygen decreases

Stomach and Intestines

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Nervous System

  • Intense pain
  • Delirium
  • Fainting
  • Fever (from infection)
  • Headache
  • Muscle twitching, spasms, contractions
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Treatment and Recovery

Wash the area with fresh water. Remove any debris at the wound site. It is preferable that dirt and detritus 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. Then, disinfect the wound by rinsing with an antiseptic such as alcohol.

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 is 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: 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 painkillers may be applied as needed.

Immersion: Hot compresses (as hot as the person can stand) are applied to the wound site or, if 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.

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

Heat & Steam: If facilities are available, a victim of wyvern poison can be put into a steam room, a hot spring, or have hot mud packs applied. This aids the body in removing the venom by sweating it out of the body.

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 the course of 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. Got sensation back in my finger after a few days but had recurrent kidney pains periodically for several years afterward.”


Wyvern Gallery

The following images of wyverns are not to scale. Please read the descriptions above for their size, colors, etc.