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I was considering that point about clutches of juveniles creating packs, and I really like it. I don't think I'll go with the hidden-clutch method of incubation, however, due to wanting my dragon species to have some degree of wide-spread society. For that, they need to be brought up by at least one adult.

At which point I had a fantastic idea! So, first, each adult individual has a territory. Then there is however breeding works in terms of finding a mate. For this particular example/method, they would not have a joint territory (like human marriage), regardless of whether they mate for life.

So, the clutch is laid. NOW. I was originally thinking it would be laid in the female's lair, but it is entirely possible that it could be laid in the male's lair. Or even either. It depends on how the travelling for mating works. The clutch is incubated by whichever parent is in possession of the eggs until they hatch.

Now, recall that these larger dragons would most likely eat their kill on-site. The more birdlike ones could regurgitate their food for the hatchlings, but that seems unlikely. Instead, the hatchlings could hunt small animals in the area around the lair while the parent gave them basic education, until they were developed enough and had learned how to fly.

At this point, the juveniles would begin flight-hunting together to find food better suited for their increasing size, using the skills and knowledge they developed as hatchlings and adapting it as necessary.

The parent would continue educating and raising them until reaching adulthood, at which point the children would all go off to find their own territories.

The small dragons (who continue hunting in packs through adulthood) would have a substantially different societal structure than the large dragons, due to this sort of thing. And I haven't even started touching on the other types of dragons~
inventrix: (Default)
One of the hunting methods I considered for dragons is pack hunting, like lions or wolves. And I love the idea, so I've been trying to figure out how to make it work. (Once again, discussing six-limbed dragons with toothy jaws.)

One major issue is size. Pack hunting lets you take out larger prey - but at the same time, you have to support more dragons in a single territory. So while your food options are increased somewhat, it's not unlimited. Pack dragons would most likely be smaller varieties, maxing out at the size of, say, a cougar. As opposed to the last post, which covers dragons that can range up to the shoulder height of a large draft horse (though substantially longer).

Pack hunting also means you can scope out more area in search of good prey in less time than if you only had one dragon searching. Of course, more efficient means of locating prey wouldn't counteract the need to avoid depleting the prey in the area.

A reason the smaller dragons may develop pack structures is defense against their primary competitors: other dragons. Especially larger dragons. (Land-based predators pose little threat, and most predators are smaller than even my smallest dragons here, which are about the size of a coyote or maybe a bit bigger - definitely longer.)

I imagine dragons are highly territorial, and a small dragon species wouldn't fare well against a larger species one-on-one. However: in packs, you can get behaviors much like crows with a hawk, or blackbirds or sparrows with a crow. A group of smaller, more agile fliers can harass and drive off a larger, more powerful but slower flier.

I haven't spent much thought on the pack hierarchy yet, as I've mostly been thinking about draconic hunting logistics. I think it would be more like a wolf pack than a lion pride, but not exactly like either. One major difference (and I do mean major) is that dragons, being reptilian, lay eggs. Even being warm-blooded reptiles; they still lay eggs. They are not mammals.

The females therefore do not need to be the ones to incubate the eggs, nor do they need to be the ones to feed the hatchlings, thus removing possibly the biggest biological influence on male/female roles. Said roles may - and undoubtedly will - differ between various pack dragon species.

I copied a brief exchange from twitter with @nathanblevins regarding packs, age, and raising young.

Nathan: Re Dragons: I can see dragons hunting in flights. Assuming dragons live a LONG time, maybe its an age thing. Young-uns pack.
Me: Why would young dragons leave their parents to create packs? (Also I don't think they do live a LONG time. Not these.)
Nathan: Good point. Are dragons nurturing parents or hide eggs and go (like turtles & some snakes)? If the latter, packing could be approrpriate until size & scarcity drive them apart nearer to adulthood.

This is why I like sharing things~ Most of my knowledge/experience is with mammals and a little with birds, so I forget/don't consider a lot of the more interesting angles of dragons being reptilian. Hidden-egg dragons wouldn't develop much in the way of social structures or language, however, due to the lack of upbringing to pass such things along. Which is in itself a fascinating point to consider.

I shall probably write up something about this at some rather later date!
inventrix: (hwee)
Well this is supposedly supposed to be my world-building-type blog so let's do some~

I've been thinking about the... I guess logistics of dragons, lately, as a sort of spin-off of playing with anatomies. Things like hunting methods, social hierarchies, habitats and suchlike. For this, I'll be talking solely about six-limbed winged dragons, like the typical European variety.

Dragons are carnivorous predators, of course. I toyed with the idea of them being scavengers and it's a possibility I'm keeping in mind for some species, but the angle I've been thinking over is for the predators.

Now, the common view of draconic hunting is clearly based on raptors - swoop in, grab an animal, fly off with it. Often back to the cave/lair to eat it. This... is not very likely, for a number of reasons. Nor is it necessary.

The first and obvious point of difference between birds of prey and dragons is the number of limbs. Birds have only four limbs, so they only have two limbs which they can use for standing, walking and grabbing their prey. Additionally, hunting beaks are not well designed for carrying prey, so that option is also out.

The particular variety of dragons I am currently discussing have jaws with teeth, as well as four feet for walking and grabbing. The resulting implication is that there is absolutely no need for them to grab and carry. They can easily attack the prey from the air, land with/on it, and then eat it on the spot (or, if necessary, nearby). Since they have those teeth, four clawed limbs, and possibly other means of attack/defense, they also don't need to worry as much about being vulnerable while on the ground.

An additional benefit of this is not having to lug a sheep or deer or cow all the way back home, which saves energy and thus means the dragon's overall food consumption doesn't need to be as high.

J happened to know a bit about fox territories and eating habits, which were extremely useful. Foxes eat small rodents, which are a comparably sized meal for a fox as a typical temperate ruminant is to these dragons. A fox's territory averages at about a day's journey (for the fox) from one end to the other.

This is a reasonable size for a dragon's territory as well. Since dragons are larger, they need a large hunting territory to be supported without wiping out the local prey. However, dragons can also fly, which greatly enhances their ability to quickly and easily travel distances. It's therefore a reasonable conclusion that a given species of this class of dragons would have a territory ranging about half a day's flight radius out from the lair.


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