"You need to get there fast, get a horse. You need to take a heavy load and time isn't an issue, take some oxen and a wagon. But if you need to worry about bandits, predators, rough terrain, flooded rivers, and/or desert crossings, or you just want one mount for the rest of your life, get yourself a tortoise." - Jasper Cameron, Leader of The Bronze RavensWith average speeds somewhere between those of an ox and a horse, and being more durable than either, Hauler Tortoises have become the favored mounts and companions of anyone who goes by the road less traveled... or the path more dangerous. It is also nice knowing that you mounts first 2 instincts when in danger are to stop and withdraw into its shell, or attempt to bite whatever is bothering it. Natural armor, low maintenance, and little motivation to wander as long as there is food nearby make them an ideal traveling companion for those able to acquire one.
Ecology and Habitats
Believed to have originated in the Myrdhor Desert, domesticated hauler tortoises are now found around the world.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Having originated in the Myrdhor Desert, hauler tortoises can and do eat just about everything. Best described as an opportunistic omnivore, the tortoises have strong jaws capable of breaking up branches or bone, both of which it has been shown to digest with little issue. In a curious bit of evolution the tortoises neck between skull and shell is somewhat elastic and contains a series of cartilaginous "ribs" between the base of the jaw and the shell. These are capable of flexing in a rippling motion to assist in swallowing as the tortoises main eating behavior is to break down its food the the point that it can shut its jaw, and then swallowing. Hauler Tortoises get most of their water from their food supply, and only need to drink on occasion.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Typically used to haul heavy loads over terrain unsuitable to a wagon, a single Hauler Tortoise, properly loaded, is capable of carrying up to 1/3 of its body weight. This, combined with their durability and somewhat surprising swimming proficiency has led them to be one of the most prized mounts for adventurers, treasure hunters, and trappers. While useful as a mount or pack animal, Hauler Tortoises show a surprising reluctance to pulling anything, as if there is tension on their shells to long they simply stop and attempt to back up, in the wild usually promptly eating whatever branch or vine they were caught on.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Hauler tortoises are known for having excellent sight and hearing, and almost no sense of smell to speak of.
Actually hauler tortoises have a quite good sense of smell, how else would they find food from miles away in the desert. This common misconception rose simply from the fact that nothing smells bad to a creature that evolved to eat everything from the sweet fruits of cacti to rotting corpses and sun baked bones.
Wild:60 years Domestic:80-100 years
Shoulder: 4 ft (1.2m) Shell Peak: 6.5ft (2m)