Turtle gorillas, or "shellback gorillas" are a species of sprite that ressemble mortal plane gorillas in appearance and mannerisms but they have claws and shells reminscent of mortal plane turtles.
"It is rare for Fair Folk to become sprites and it is rare for sprites to become Fair Folk, but neither event is unprecedented. Turtle gorillas and kappas bear a lot of superficial similarites to each other in appearance and habitat. This has led some to speculate that kappas are possibly a hyper-evolved offshoot of turtle gorillas or turtle gorillas are the degenerate descendants of some kind of kappa Remnant. Unfortunately, turtle gorillas are even more elusive subjects of study than kappas are, so we will never know for sure" -Daishiro author of A Comprehensive Guide to Kappas
"What is to know? We both have shells and like fresh water sources but there is no familial relationship between us noble kappas and these feral beasts. Humans bear a lot of similarity to monkeys? Do you want me to say humans come from monkeys? -Chaifung, kappa
Turtle gorillas have the size, body shape, and posture of mortal plane gorillas but with back shells and scale patterns ressembling mortal plane turtles. Their heads ressemble snapping turtles. They have fully opposable digits. They don't have the full manual dexterity of humanoids but their hands are great for snatching fish from shallow water or picking fruit. They don't craft tools, but they can use tools such as using a stick to knock down a high hanging piece of fruit or using a rock to crack open a hard shelled nut or shellfish. Males have much thicker scales and shells with vaguely rhinolike horns on their heads (which are used primarily for mating challenges with other males). Females have larger and more pronounced backclaws (which helps for digging nests).
Genetics and Reproduction
Shellback gorillas practice tournament mating where one alpha male typically has a harem of females and the alpha drives away or kills rival males until such time as a rival male defeats the alpha. Females produce eggs at more or less random intervals, so a cluster of females is likely to have different females lay eggs at different times. Females usually lay one or two eggs at a time, roughly the size of a human head. They will normally bury the eggs in the mud or sand of a shallow body of freshwater. Eggs take about a year to hatch and the females raise their young. While the primary caregiver is their biological mother, but females will put forth modest effort to look after the young of other females. Males do not actively care for juvenile shellbacks but they do not harm them, even if they are pretty sure the young turtle gorillas are not theirs.
Growth Rate & Stages
After hatching, shellback gorillas reach their full adult size after about ten years. After about eight years, young adolescent males are usually driven away by the alpha male and adolescent females sometimes leave of their own volition, possibly instinctually avoiding inbreeding issues (though creatures of Fae Home seem to have fewer issues with inbreeding than mortal plane creatures). Shellback gorrilla females can theoretically live for over fifty years though they tend to become infertile around forty. Males can theoretically live for over sixty years, but they tend to start losing muscle mass in their late forties. Neither sex is likely to live out a full lifespan.
Ecology and Habitats
Turtle gorillas are fully amphibious and can breath air or water equally easy. Turtle gorillas are strong swimmers and lay their eggs in the water but they live most of their lives on land though they rarely move far from water. They prefer to dwell in places with easy access to fresh water and tall trees. They can take shelter in either the food or water depending on what threatens them and they have access to a wide variety of food sources. It is very rare to find turtle gorillas in the mortal plane by accident, if one sees a family of turtle gorillas in the mortal plane, a Fair Folk probably sent them there against their will. A lot of lone males have to eke out a living in subpar territories and lone males can be found in unlikely places in the realm of Fae Home that don't seem like an ideal habitat for them. When a shellback gorilla accidentally stumbles into the mortal plane without being manipulated into it, it is probably a lone male.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Shellback gorillas are omnivores and are healthiest and happiest when they have a mix of plant and animal matter. They prefer fruits and fish but they can eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter. On average they tend meet two thirds of the calorie needs from plant matter. They prefer to hunt and fish for much smaller creatures than them. They will attack human sized opponents if they feel that the humanoids are threatening their territory, mates, or young but they will generally only try to eat humanoids or Fair Folk if they are desperately hungry.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Fair Folk have not been able to domesticate shellback gorillas, but some Water Aspect Fae have been able to tame them and utilize them as guard beasts. It is relatively easy with care and feeding to teach them to be less hostile water aspect Fae and to be extra hostile against all non-Water aspected Fae. Unfortunately, this means that turtle gorillas are not good guard beasts when the watery Fair Folk in question wants to keep out hostile watery Fair Folk, but when a Fair Folk employs turtle gorillas as guards, the beasts are usually one piece of their security system and not the entirety of it. The shells of shellback gorillas can be crafted into armor and shields. They are not most practical armor material and they require a master Fae craftsmen to make sure they are not too bulky and heavy but turtle gorilla armor is receptive to water based enchantment. They are commonly used to create magic armor that bestows water breathing and underwater mobility to terrestial creatures meaning that non-watery fae find the beasts more valuable dead than alive.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Shellback gorillas have keen hearing and keen senses of smell. Their eyesight is below that of humans but not terrible. They have a supernatural ability to sense the essence of elements other than water. They cannot pinpoint these creatures per se but they can tell when they are near meaning any non-watery mortals or fae can trigger a fight-or-flight reflex.