I swear it wasn't my eyes, or the drink! I saw a calamity squirrel! Sitting right there, on his fence post, plain as day! I'll never forget the way it stared at me. The way its bones stuck through its matted fur. The twisted shape of its tail. Those beady red eyes, sizing me up to decide if I was it's next meal! It wasn't a hallucination, I tell you! Someone's using Vitriol, and if you don't find them, we'll all be next!Due to the prevalence of squirrels across most of Fillimet, and their enhanced susceptibility to magical effects due to their small size and quick metabolism, squirrels are considered an indicator species. A true calamity squirrel sighting indicates a concentration of Vitriol Magic, requiring prompt action to locate and expel the source before the whole area is overcome by Calamity. Fortunately calamity squirrel sightings across the majority of Fillimet are rare. The largest known colony lives on Kogal Island, twisted by the same Vitriol which destroyed the once-idyllic island and forced its residents to flee for their lives.
Calamity squirrels maintain the basic anatomy of their origin species, but twisted beyond standard recognition. As the Calamity takes hold bones realign or grow spurs and spikes, wounds form and never quite heal, pigmentation condenses to darken colors in patches and drain them away completely in others. Creatures afflicted with Calamity also move differently, in stuttered awkward motions due to the deformations, and yet somehow maintain movement speeds similar to that of the unafflicted. It is hypothesized the Calamity may also deaden a creature's ability to experience pain.
Genetics and Reproduction
Judging by the steady population present on Kogal Island despite their cannibalistic nature and geographic isolation, researchers concede they must breed, and somehow protect the young until they reach adulthood. The details of this process, or whether or not the young begin life as a calamity squirrel or the original species of their parents, remain a mystery.
Growth Rate & Stages
Calamity squirrels occur when a standard squirrel of any subspecies becomes afflicted with Calamity due to close proximity to a concentration of Vitriol Magic. There have been no successful studies of their growth cycle once contracting calamity, as they tend to consume each other when kept in captivity, and those who have managed to locate the wild colonies on Kogal Island for study found themselves quickly overrun, often with disastrous effects. On the plus side, there have been enough survivors to confirm Calamity cannot be transmitted through bites from infected creatures, leaving prolonged or concentrated exposure to Vitriol Magic as the only source of contagion.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Calamity squirrels will eat anything and everything that suits their fancy. Consumption of plants, animals, other calamity squirrels, and overcurious researchers have all been observed. They do tend to prefer food sources unafflicted with Calamity, although nobody has dared enact a study to determine whether this is due to an aversion to the Calamity itself or simply a preference for the nutrition content of the unafflicted.
Some mysteries are best left unsolved.