The Cornish Whelp
These miniature, flightless dragons are perhaps one of the most ill-regarded species in the Northern hemisphere. They are native to the coastlines of Cornwall in the United Kingdom and thrive in wet, chilly climates. Their population numbers and ecological impact classify them as pests, and anyone who has had to deal with a colony of them can attest to this. Their aggressive and territorial nature makes them challenging to handle.
Cornish Whelps tend to reach about 17 centimeters in height, with no notable difference in size between males and females. Structurally, they are similar to a standard chicken with a lack of functional front limbs, instead having small, flightless wings used for balance. The wings are fringed with soft, cartilaginous spikes that are used to exhibit mating potential and scare away predators. A similar frill of spikes on the face and back of the neck protects them from aerial bombardment, as seagulls frequently try to snatch the whelps from the beach. Sharp talons help scratch through sand in search of food and are used during duels between confrontational males. The teeth of this species are small and short, incapable of doing much damage to the human hand beyond a slight nip. They frequently break and fall out while cracking the shells of clams but are replaced with new, sharp teeth within a few days. The hide is tough and wrinkled, armored along the front and underbelly with overlapping, bone-like plates.
This species lacks an acid sack, the organ responsible for flame production in many media-featured dragons. Upon exhaling, they create steam when their breath interacts with the cold environment, leading to the misconception that they can produce a flame.
Cornish Whelps are scavengers. Like the goat, these dragons can digest materials inedible to other creatures. While primarily carnivorous in their diet, they frequently eat garbage and small objects, such as gardening gloves, trowels, and playing cards. Otherwise, they hunt for fish and clams in shallow tides along the beach. Their voracious appetites and persistent focus make them the bane of local townspeople, who must maintain a close watch on their belonging lest they wind up in the belly of a Whelp.
As scavengers, Cornish Whelps have adapted to a migratory pattern. This pattern is counterclockwise in nature and tends to stick close to coastlines. During the winter months, the dragons travel North along the Cornwall border and observe a fasting period during which they mate. Once they reach the Northern coast, females will lay their eggs.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Cornish Whelps have gained pest status due to their large populations and seemingly invulnerable existence. Many have called them the "Cockroaches of the Coast." During their stay on the Northern coast, females lay between 7-10 eggs, 90% of which will hatch. Female Cornish Whelps vastly outnumber the males, and since these dragons do not mate for life, their populations can quickly explode. During the Great Whelp Crisis of 1921, residents of Boscastle witnessed the most significant number of Cornish Whelp hatching in recorded history. Approximately 3,000 dragons invaded the town, devouring anything left unattended.
Their fast and hardy build makes them difficult to exterminate, so it is preferred to relocate a colony until their subsequent
migration. Cornish Whelps have many natural predators that keep their population somewhat under control. Cats, predatory birds, and foxes frequently hunt and kill the whelps. Otherwise, this species only lives for approximately two years.
Cornish Whelps present little to no threat to humans unless aggravated. They keep to themselves and though highly detested for their nuisance, are otherwise harmless. They can deliver a sharp bite and scratch, but no more than your average housecat. If faced with a colony of whelps, it is suggested that you ignore their presence and put away any items you do not want to be ingested. They will likely migrate away within a few weeks.