Skinwalkers are what most people call those who can shift between human and animal forms, though they themselves usually call themselves the Kin. Most people don't know of the existence of Skinwalkers. There are different clans of Skinwalker Kin, mostly depending on which Unraveled area they originate from. The most prevalent of these are: Feline Clan Feathered Clan Canine Clan Bear Clan Most of these are scattered around the world, but the bulk of the clans mostly congregate in specific areas. The Bears are in the Arctic, Canines are in the mountains, the Feathered, especially the bright feathers, are in the rain-forest. The Rapar is home to the Felines. The Cats that live in the Rapar are similar to the desert cat caracel, a high jumping cat originating in Africa. They are medium in sized cats, about the size of a German Shepard. It is unknown if they were originally animals that gained the power to shift into humans or humans that gained the abilities to turn into animals, but they where created near the same time as the Unraveling and is thought to have been caused by it. Skinwalkers are caretakers of the Unraveled areas, protecting what is in the center of each, but especially those who live in the Rapar. This is unknown by most normal people.
They look normal in their human form, and look relatively normal in their animal form. Though there are some slight differences of their animal form that isn't too noticeable from a distance. The caracals have a slightly longer tail then the original and the dew claws are lower and shaped like a primitive thumb. Though many normal animals have changed over the years since the Unraveling that most people don't notice the differences.
Genetics and Reproduction
Skinwalkers reproduction cycle mostly follows that of their animal counterparts, usually once to twice a year. Humans and Skinwalkers can mate, though children with the ability to shift is rare. Skinwalkers can of different clans can also mate with each other, however the children will have a fifty - fifty chance of being like the mother or father. For example if a Feline Clan member mates with a Feathered Clan member the child will have an equal chance of being Feathered or Feline. The gestation period of a clan baby is shortened by a couple of months. It is between 7-8 months, instead of the 9 months for humans.
Growth Rate & Stages
If the mother is in human form when giving birth, then the baby is human, but if the mother is in her animal form the child will be in the animal form. It takes 2-5 years til the child is able to first shift. They grow about the same rate as a human child even in animal forms. So there animals grow at a slower rate then other animals. It is easier to learn to shift with their parents, or an older Skinwalker to help them. There have been orphaned children before. But if one is orphaned another Clan member will take on the role of guardian until they are old enough to live on their own. It is rare when an orphaned child is lost to the Kin and is raised by humans instead. In that case the first Shift doesn't happen until much later in life, if at all. If it does happen it is usually from a traumatic experience and the ability to shift consciously is often out of their hands, unless found by a member of the Kin and taught how to control their ability. Rumors of Were-Wolfs have generated from this.
Ecology and Habitats
Many live in an Unraveled area or just outside in the border lands. They can function freely in both Unraveled areas and outside of it. Though they work best in the Unraveled areas if they are in their animal form, they can turn human for short periods of time without any adverse affects. Canines tend to be very social and form packs/communities. Felines are mostly solitary, though if you make friends with on they will be very loyal. Feathers create flocks made of familiar units mostly. The Bright Feathers tend to be more showy and flashy then the others. Bears tend to be very concerned with Clan and Kin, and are the most closely connected to the Unraveled areas and seem to be able to commune with the source of the Unraveling.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Their food habits are similar to that of humans, though if in their animal form they can eat raw meat without trouble, except for the Bright Feathers who eat fruit and seed in their animal forms. Bright Feathered Kin can eat meat as a human, though many prefer not to. Other Feathered forms are built after raptors and can eat meat. Many hunt and forage in animal forms though if they predominantly live outside an Unraveled area, they find a well defended spot and store supplies nonperishable supplies. Many live in border towns like a regular human and live like a normal human, though they often find jobs that allow them greater mobility so they may shift or enter the Unraveled area without suspicion.
Most Skinwalkers can ignore their animal instincts when it comes to seasonal changes, however the Bear Clan tends to become more tired during the winter and eats more to compensate. This could be from the fact that they live in the tundra and winters are harsh, and sleep and food helps to survive in the cold. Skinwalkers can stay in their animal forms for long periods of time and many do, however if they stay in their human form for too long without Shifting then they can become very irritable, especially if they are used to spending long periods of time as an animal. So it's healthier for them to find a good balance between human and animal.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Skinwalkers have the normal senses expected in their animal forms, and heightened senses in their human forms, though not as sharp when they are animals. As an animal they do still have the power of human speech, though they refrain form doing so in the presence of humans