Wyvern
Draconis vipera
Family: Reptilian
Classification: Non-sapient
Manifestation: Corporeal
Pronunciation: WĪ-vurn

There are no dragons native to the Americas, save possibly for the Jersey Devil. Wyverns (WĪ-vurn) are an invasive species brought in by European explorers and settlers. They are a smaller dragon species kept as pets and working animals. Wyverns have been domesticated by the Magimundi for millennia. They make fearsome hunters, loyal pets, capable steeds, and dutiful guards. There are hundreds of different breeds of wyvern, each with their own distinctive markings. The American Wyvern Association (AWA) keeps a registry of the different breeds and owners can register their wyverns to mark them as purebreds. The AWA sponsors yearly competitions for both working and show wyverns.

Wyverns also exist in the wilds in the Americas, the result of released pets and escaped working animals. They are an invasive species with no real predators and have caused a good deal of harm to the local cryptosystem.

Because of the wide variety of breeds of wyvern it is impossible to say what a typical wyvern looks like. The Great Meerhünt Wyvern can grow as large as 500 lbs and as tall as a fully grown horse. The Teacup Wyvern is a smaller breed and can fit on the palm of your hand, and is usually worn as a shoulder accessory.

Some wyverns have two legs and some have four. All wyverns have reptilian scales and wings, with talons at the end of the wings and on their claws (which may be cropped in accordance with AWA guidelines). Some wyverns do have tufts of feather-like growths. Almost all breeds of wyverns can fly. Some wyverns, such as the Menorviento breed, are bred to race or carry messages quickly. Wyverns tend to have long tails. In some breeds, such as the Wessex Standard, the tail ends in an arrowhead barb.

Even within breeds, there can be a wide variety of markings. Wyverns can be almost any color, with many being mixed, mottled, striped, spotted, reticulated, or with a belly color different from the rest of the body. Wild or unpedigreed wyverns, which are usually a mix of breeds, can appear with even more complicated markings.

Wyverns cannot, in general, breathe fire. The few breeds that can, such as the Marlborough, can only breathe a small flame and cannot hold it for more than few seconds. It is very unusual for unpedigreed wyverns to have this ability at all.

Wyverns are food-motivated and particularly easy to train. Service wyverns have become common to guide the blind, signal the hearing impaired, and perform other functions. Wyverns can be trained to manipulate smaller objects to aid those with mobility difficulties. Some wyverns are trained as emotional support animals, colloquially known as “comfort wyverns.”

Feral wyverns have spread to almost all parts of the Americas. Scavengers and opportunistic feeders, wyverns are carnivorous, and will eat all manner of mammal, fish, bird, and reptile. In rural areas, wyverns will break into trash and food storage receptacles, so special care has to be made to wyvern-proof the facilities. While wyverns have no real sapience, they are clever problem-solvers and are excellent at opening containers using their claws and teeth.

Feral wyverns mate in the spring and will raise their young during the summer months. By their first autumn, the young are able to fly and hunt on their own, but will still take up to two years to fully mature. Wyverns have a complicated mating ritual, including dancing, bowing, and “singing” to their partners.

Note: Wyverns cannot actually sing, but their vocalizations do sound like strange grumbling birds.

The mating of purebred domesticated wyverns is carefully controlled by their owners. A wyvern will lay 3-5 eggs in a clutch. The eggs will be of different colors and will be warm to the touch. The wyvern that hatches from the egg will have a color scheme that matches the egg.

Wyverns are pack animals and live in groups of about 6-12, plus juveniles. The wyverns will have an alpha, either male or female, who obtained the position by defeating all challengers in combat. Juvenile wyverns usually challenge the alpha when they reach maturity in their second year, just before the mating season.

A just hatched wyvern is called a hatchling; a juvenile wyvern is called a juvenile. The collective noun for a group of wyverns is a legion.

Habitat

Feral wyverns will build nests in areas of opportunity. The nests are usually at about tree level, but wyvern nests have been found on the ground, and on the roofs of tall buildings. Domesticated wyverns do not need nests, but their owners will usually have some sort of nest-style bed for them. Wyverns are particularly popular on Virginia Isle, and are trained wyverns are known to transport riders throughout Solaris Province and particularly to Magnolia Sun Primaschola.

Biology

Wyverns are similar to smaller dragons, much like dogs are similar to smaller wolves. They have a scaly hide and wings. Some wyverns have special glands in the throat that allow them to breathe a short burst of flame.

Diet

Wyverns are carnivores, opportunistic predators, and scavengers. They prefer live prey, but will also consume recently killed animals. There are many brands of commercially available wyvern food for sale, although some owners will feed their wyverns table scraps.

Magical Uses

Wyverns make excellent guards, messengers, steeds, pets, and familiars. They are fiercely devoted to their owners. Their scales and various organs can be used in spells and charms. Some alchemical formulae require being boiled in wyvern fire to work. The heart strings of a wyvern make excellent wand cores.

Defense

Wyverns will attack with claws and teeth, and sometimes with fire. Unless directed to do so by an owner, the wyvern will save the fire as an attack of last resort. Wyverns are pack hunters and will attack en masse if possible. Wyverns prefer to attack from the air as they are particularly unsteady on their feet. The scales of the wyverns do provide them some armor against normal weapons, and they seem very resistant to electric and fire based spells. They are weakest where the joints of their wings meet their bodies, and are especially susceptible to spells that affect their equilibrium.

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