Bumble Dragon

Bumble dragons are small cousins of the grander wyrm. While incredibly clever, the general consensus is that they're non-sapient.   Bumble dragons are increasingly popular as pets in the high societies of Veshiri and with the bohemian artists. Their popularity has started to spread to other planets, some, leading to attempts to catch more bumble dragons in the wild. However, wild-caught bumble dragons are often ill-tempered and poorly suited to the home, unlike the friendly domesticated bumble, and very little success has been had with taming them. Domestic bumble dragons reproduce only slowly, and not at nearly high enough levels to satisfy demand.   They were domesticated an unknown number of years ago, though they have been recorded in art and writing for at least ten thousand years. Theories vary as to why they were initially domesticated - the larger breeds can certainly help keep down vermin, and they sometimes serve as watch-animals due to their cleverness, keen senses, and loud vocalizations - but the predominant theory is that they were simply considered an exotic pet for nobles. However, there's a competing theory that posits the bumble dragons essentially domesticated themselves soon after elves first entered their native rain forests, identifying people as a ready source of food and shelter, and helping the newcomers keep watch for dangerous predators in return.   Bumble dragons fetch a variety of prices, depending on their size and morph - smaller dragons go for more, as do rarer morphs.

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

Overview

  Bumble dragons range from the size of a bee to the size of a small cat. They have two forelimbs and two hindlimbs with grasping claws designed for climbing up trees and vines, and a pair of wings sprouting from their back. They have a reptilian head on the end of a long neck, with two forward-facing eyes, and a long, thick tail for balance. Their bodies are protected by scales.  

Skeletal System

  Their skeletal structure is designed for flexibility and flight. Their bones are exceptionally lightweight, and they have large air-filled sacs in their chest (named pneumatic cavities) connected to the respiratory system. The spine has cervical (neck), thoracic (rib), lumbar (back), and caudal (tail) regions, with more vertebrae in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions than most creatures their size. Their sternum is a large bone, projecting outwards in a keel, and serves as an attachment point for the dragon's flight muscles.  

Respiratory Systems

  Like many dragons and their distant cousins the birds, bumble dragons have a respiratory system designed to provide a continual flow of air through the lungs. Upon inhalation, 25% of air goes directly into the lungs, while the other 75% is store in a posterior air sac. The posterior air sac extends into the bones, filling them with air to provide further buoyancy. Upon exhalation, the used air flows out of the lungs and the fresh air from the posterior sac is forced out and forward into the lungs.   Sound is produced using a syrinx, which is a type of muscular chamber splitting off from the base of the trachea. The syrinx has multiple tympanic membranes. Unlike some birds and dragons, bumble dragons cannot mimic speech. Efforts have been made to breed one particular strain of bumble dragon to have the ability to produce two sounds at once like some songbirds, but it is slow work. The dragon's trachea is elongated, allowing bumble dragons to sound much bigger than their size would suggest.

Biological Traits

Bumbles have multiple subspecies or breeds, which primarily determine their size and ornamentation (horns, frills, and spikes).

Genetics and Reproduction

Bumble dragons lay one or two eggs at a time, with eggs ranging from the size of a coffee bean to as large as a chicken egg. Their breeding season is in the early spring in temperate regions and the start of the wet season in tropical regions. They form nests for their young, with materials depending on the size of the nest.

Ecology and Habitats

Bumble dragons prefer it warm, being naturally found throughout the tropics of the world. They're prone to illness when exposed to low temperatures for too long, and will rapidly sicken if in a freezing clime. They are not recommended for pet owners far to the north or south, or in ice worlds, though those in temperate areas can keep their pet healthy through the winter with a heat-stone or basking lamp. In addition, outside of the more humid climes, it is recommended to provide them with an extensive amount of water for soaking in, for optimal scale health.   They like cramped areas, and plenty of things to climb upon - the greater the resemblance to their native rain forests, the better. Bumble dragons show signs of stress in wide-open regions, and like having somewhere dark and moist to hide at times.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Bumble dragons eat a mixture of fruit and meat. They often appreciate liquid sweets like honey or cream as treats. They cannot digest nuts or woody plants.

Biological Cycle

Young bumble dragons shed very frequently, replacing the top layer of their scales as often as once a month. When young (and sometimes even as they age), they frequently need a shed box, a moist enclosure containing moss and pieces of bark for them to rub themselves on to help the loosening shed slough off.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Bumble dragons are social creatures, often sleeping cuddled up in the wild, and frequently physically affectionate with their owners when domesticated.

Domestication

Domesticated bumble dragons have larger eyes and softer features than many wild bumble dragons, but are still technically the same species. Domesticated varieties often also have more complex patterns, though the same vividness of color is found in all bumble dragons.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

The species' native range consists of the low-elevation tropics of the planet Veshiri in a band around the equator. Sapient desire for them as pets has since expanded their range.

Average Intelligence

The true intelligence of bumble dragons is debated. They can certainly be trained, and often perform in circuses, and owners have reported them engaging in what seems to be efforts at art if supplied with paint. They have a chittering way of talking among themselves, that varies with region, but does not seem to have all the features of a true language. The smartest recorded bumble dragon has been taught to recognize over one thousand items, and a few have been reported observing and mimicking aspects of sapient behavior.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Bumble dragons have a wide visual range, able to see not only the human visual spectrum of color, but also ultraviolet and infrared light, and they can perceive more gradients of color than humans thanks to extra cones in their eyes. Most bumbles have five types of cones, including one sensitive to ultraviolet light and one sensitive to different parts of the standard visual spectrum. They also generally have pits at the end of their nose designed to sense infrared light.

Lifespan
Bumble dragons live 60 years on average, though smaller breeds live longer than larger breeds
Average Height
1-10 inches, depending on breed
Average Weight
0.069 ounces to 11 pounds
Average Length
2.5 inches to 24 inches in total length, including the tail
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Bumble dragons come in a wide variety of different patterns, known as morphs. Most have jewel-toned scales with deep, rich colors. Stripes and spots are not uncommon patterns. Morphs exist across breeds, so a corn bee bumble is a dragon of the tiniest breed, with a pattern of yellow, orange, red, and dark brown scales. The rarest and most expensive morph is the Ivory morph, a pure white morph with little discernible pattern, with one fine specimen selling for 3,000 Veshiri crowns. The next is the Rainbow morph, a shimmering iridescent morph noted for how rarely it breeds true.

Comments

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5 Jul, 2018 18:09

Is the bumble-dragons' size tied to particular regions or subspecies, or are they all of varying size relative to eachother?   They sound neat. Is there a reason to domesticate them or is it purely vanity?

5 Jul, 2018 18:17

It's tied to subspecies, yeah. Larger breeds can be used to keep down vermin, and they can act as effective watch animals because of how noisy they can get, but the main reason for domestication seems to have been purely as a showy pet (although there's some theories a few might've essentially domesticated themselves, identifying people as ready sources of food)

5 Jul, 2018 18:22

Oooh, in that latter case you might research into canine co-evolution with humans. There's a theory that canines affected human evolution and made us more social.

5 Jul, 2018 18:27

Cool! I think they might've affected early settlers in rain forest areas, since their purpose as watch-animals would've been a lot more present there. they definitely helped with avoiding predators, they alarm *loud*, but 'these critters moved in with us, stole our food, and started screaming when they saw a wildcat' is not usually recorded in written history :P

5 Jul, 2018 19:54

Wow, that was really impressive, especially the detail you went into for the respiratory system. I am also curious if there is other purposes to the taming of these guys? Communications? Spying?

5 Jul, 2018 20:54

Thanks! I figured I might as well put my anatomy and phys class to use :) They're not much use for communications, they can't fly as far as like messenger pigeons, but you could teach one a coded musical message, sure, or to go to a place and steal a document - though they might start stealing *your* documents (or random documents) in exchange for treats

5 Jul, 2018 20:37

Very nice, these cuties definitely sound adorable <3 Are they called bumble because they can be bee sized? Also, what kind of meat do they eat? Any preferences? In the wild, how do they get their meat intake? Do they hunt or do they scavenge carrion?

5 Jul, 2018 20:56

Thanks! 'Bee sized' was the doylist reason, yeah, in world it's because they're a bit clumsy. They mostly eat fish, small rodents, and insects, with preferences varying between individuals. Meat intake in the wild's mostly fishing for like minnows, or hanging around the edges of human cities for mice. They're hunters, and prefer getting to chase their own food

5 Jul, 2018 20:48

I saw the title and thought "I hope these are cute" and they were. I want one as a pet! I loves all the details in the skeletal and respiratory sections; it's clear you put a lot of thought into making them not just cool little dragons but feel plausible, like they could be real animals.

5 Jul, 2018 21:00

Thanks! I knew that anatomy class would be good for something :P plus, like, what are wikipedia binges for except knowing weird details about bird and reptile anatomy. I keep wanting to add more so it feels like a full article by someone in the actual field, but for now it'll rest as it is

5 Jul, 2018 21:33

Some nice detail! Can't help but chuckle at the name Bumble Dragon. How could you not want one as a pet?

6 Jul, 2018 01:09

These sound cute. There are few things better than tiny dragons. And love the name too.