Zugret Species in Omari | World Anvil

Zugret

"The expedition was going well, that is, until we heard a loud scuttling from behind us. A deafening screech flooded our ears. As we nearly doubled over, a giant centipede flung itself from the surrounding brush. I looked up to see its venom drenched mandibles looming over me. Thank the divines we had a quick acting ranger on our hands to handle the situation."
— Blog post from Birki Kroon detailing a close encounter with a zugret.
  Prowling many of Omari's forests is the large, wiggling predator known as the zugret. It's a giant centipede with almost no predators or enemies. It produces a potent venom that can devastate an adult in minutes.  

Habitat

Zugrets are primarily found in forests and forest dense mountainous areas. They can be found on islands with tropical to moderate temperatures. Areas with snow are too cold. There are a small group that can survive in the desert, but they are rare.

Anatomy

Like smaller species, Zugrets are long, segmented creatures. Many spindly legs line each side of the body. The tip of each leg is sharp and can pierce most flesh. There are two sharp, tail-like protrusions on the last segment. It can be used as part of their defense. Attached to the head is a pair of large mandibles that can cut through wood and thin metal. They have been observed sharpening them on a regular basis. The venom sacs are located just behind them. Zugrets can release it at will to coat their mandibles. They have two large eyes that provide high contrast vision. Their exoskeleton is thick and strong. It is hard to pierce without a super sharp weapon.
 
"Due to their hard carapaces, it can be quite difficult to hunt down this giant insect. They are not invincible, however, and with precise movements they can be killed. Below is a diagram of the zugret. It illustrates their anatomy. I have the few weak points labeled. Between each body segment is a softer portion not fully protected by the exoskeleton. If timed right, one can stab their blade through that section or attempt to aim their spells there."
— Mighty Mavis' Guide to Monster Hunting
 

Reproduction

Zugrets are fully mature at age four. Once a year mates will seek each other during late spring. After intertwining into a spiral during their mating ritual, the female will seek out a safe spot to deposit her eggs. Between 10 and 20 spherical eggs are laid. The eggs are roughly 7 inches in diameter. They typically use hidden, damp areas to keep them out of sight and moist. If the eggs get too dry the membrane becomes brittle and breaks open. Not all eggs are viable. It is common for only 2 to 5 to survive and hatch.

Life Cycle

Zugret eggs incubate for three months. They hatch at the end of summer and are fully formed. The babies do not have their hard exoskeletons and are easy to pick off if they don't spend their early years well hidden. The shells gradually harden as the zugret matures, staying malleable enough to allow growth until adulthood. Their venom sacs are developed days after hatching. This gives them at least some defense, even if its not fully potent until the second year.
 

Stalking The Forest

  These nocturnal insects are active around 6pm to 6am. Due to their size, they rely on camouflage and slow movement once they spot potential prey. When the opportunity arises, the zugret will strike with accurate precision. If the sharp mandibles doesn't kill them, the venom definitely will. Zugrets either hunt alone or in groups of three. It depends on their population in the area, individual preference, and the size of their prey.  

Social Structure

  Zugrets rarely gather in large groups. Depending on location, some are even solitary, only meeting up with a mate to reproduce. They are able to tell relative groups apart via markings along the body that are only visible under uv light. Their eyes allow them to see this. If these markings are too similar to their own, they know the other will not be a suitable mate.   Mates bond for life. They rarely move on to different partners unless situations are dire enough to warrant it. After dropping a clutch of eggs, mates usually take turns guarding the nest. Sometimes the environment is large enough to support a few families in the same area. In these cases they have designated caves or other safe nesting areas where there is always an adult posted. Sometimes for single pairs, a parent cannot always be present. This is usually the case in times of low food or large hunts. Their eggs are the most vulnerable during these windows to other creatures and hunters.   There is no formal hierarchy or morale code. Zugrets respect each others territories and assist each other when needed, but no individual ranks higher than another. Weakness is not generally tolerated, however. In groups, if an individual gets badly injured or ill, they usually only have a few days to get better and prove their worth. If this zugret does not improve, the remaining members take them out and cannibalize them. This happens when one dies as well. Food is food in their eyes and they do not waste. This is most common in months of drought or disasters that decrease their food options.
Type: Large Insect   Average Length: 14ft   Average Weight: 124lbs   Average Lifespan: 10 years  

Coloration

Zugrets come in several colors and patterns. It varies from location as they need to blend in with their environment for better hunting. The most common are a mix of mottled browns and greens. The rare desert variety ranges from light to dark tans with speckling on top to resemble the sandy and rocky environment.  

Conservation

They are neither endangered or protected by laws. Zugrets are typically seen as threats to forest settlements and travelers. These insects are also considered an invasive species. It is believed some juveniles may have found their way aboard a ship leaving one of the sinking islands they may have originated from. Specialized adventurers are hired to hunt them down on occasion for purpose of gathering useful materials or to protect settlements that may be in danger from them.  

Diet

Zugrets are omnivores. They'll gladly devour a wide variety of living or dead things. Aside from gobbling up unfortunate adventurers and travelers, they have been observed eating just about any smaller creature that passes through their habitat. They use their mandibles to slice things into small pieces. Their venom helps break material down for easy slurping. Fruits and forgotten carcasses are also on the menu.  

Useful Parts

Over time, as people figured out how to kill the zugret, discoveries were made about their body parts. The hard exoskeleton can be used in armor plating. If ground into a powder, the shell dust can be used to fortify bricks and concrete. The process requires special tools to break down, but is possible. Zugret venom can be used to coat arrows and weapons for quick kills. Egg membranes can also be used in medicine and potions for their anti fungal properties. If boiled for long enough, the eggs produce a vibrant red dye/pigment.    Zugret meat is surprisingly tender and juicy. It is advised to avoid the head and first body section due to the potential of venom contamination. The rest of the body meat is edible. Many say the meat tastes like a mix of crab and shrimp, but with more earthy undertones. The preferred cooking method is boiling the meat in the shell and serving with melted herb butter. Some enjoy eating it from the shell with a spoon after boiling. Others enjoy removing the meat from the shell and grilling it after coating in a sweet and savory sauce.    All parts tend to be expensive, however, due to the dangers of fetching them. There are currently no farms to breed and raise them. Some research is being done to make farming them safe and possible.


Cover image: by Krzysiek

Comments

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Dec 20, 2020 02:22 by Sailing Ocelot

The average length is 14ft?! That's terrifying. As an insect, I would also be afraid they would breed quite quickly yet live to 22 years? (Are they cannibals?) AND they deliberately sharpen their mandibles? Ahhh! I wouldn't want to go in any forests infested with zugrets :'(

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
Dec 20, 2020 02:27 by Ezra Aldrich

Some info may change (as I'm still working on this, kinda placed numbers down to start with), but yeah, they're pretty scary. Oooh, the cannibal idea could be neat. Like they pick off weak members (and not waste a food opportunity if one dies).

Dec 20, 2020 18:39 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

Imagine running into one of these! I think I would die of fear before it got close to me. Very interesting take on this prompt. :)

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Dec 20, 2020 18:51 by Ezra Aldrich

Thanks! I'm about maybe, halfway done with it. But yeah, centipedes in general are one of the more creepy critters out there in the insect world and I thought "but what if big". haha

Dec 21, 2020 19:51 by Angantyr

That is a cool creature! And it makes we wondering, is there meat edible? I see many parts utilized as ingredients but meat is not one of them.

Playing around with words and worlds
Dec 21, 2020 20:18 by Ezra Aldrich

Thanks! And good point, I seemed to have overlooked that. I do still have some tweaks to make to this article, but I must go to work haha. Will keep in mind whenever I get around to adding to this. c :

Dec 22, 2020 00:43 by Gege Escriva

Great job! The article is pretty complete and interesting and...wow! These fellas are really huge! I must confess that even as someone who likes insects and miriapodes (centipedes & millipedes) I would run away if a zugret were by me ...

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Dec 23, 2020 09:15 by Ezra Aldrich

Thank you! I love millipedes, they're so cute. But centipedes, some of them are down right vile lol.

Dec 22, 2020 21:10 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Aaaah! Noooo! Too many legs!!   These are really interesting. I like how you've gone into detail on how they reproduce and how they grow up from small slightly less scary bugs to big ones.

Dec 23, 2020 09:17 by Ezra Aldrich

Hehe, glad to see I've gotten the creep facto down~ I try my best lol. Even if I don't actually know much about things, I do what I can to make 'em fleshed out and interesting.