| Shruma |
14/95, Shrew Plague
|Size||Medium (70 cm) Long. Please note that since tail length varies, the length measurement does not include the tail.|
|Diet||Omnivore (Azelak Scavenger, anything that wanders into the area, Snow Puff)|
|Reproduction||Sexual, two sexes, live birth, pouch and milk. Litter size is never more than three.|
|Descendant of||Ancestor of|
The shruma is so named because of its striking resemblance in behavior to the cougar (puma) of Earth. A solitary creature, it does not tolerate another member of its species except during breeding season. During winter, the mountains are filled with low pitched drones; this is caused by the males placing their jawbones on the ground and making those sounds. They do not realize that there is an audible sound, but females can feel the vibrations through the bottoms of their feet from up to three hundred yards away. Cubs remain with the mother for about three years before they seek territories of their own.
A truly strange feature of the shruma is its tail. At birth, the tail is very short, but as it grows, the tail becomes very long. The tail continues to grow throughout life, until eventually, it is so long that the old shruma must drape its tail over its back to avoid dragging it. The tail grows throughout life so that shrumas can tell how old another shruma is. If a male wants to mate, he will not "call" a female he sees that has a tail too much longer than his own. If a male calls a female, and his tail is at least a foot longer than hers, she will refuse him. This is because the closer a shruma gets to old age, the more likely it is to pass on diseases to the offspring. The tail gains about seven inches per year.
When a shruma hunts, it first seeks out a dead carcass. But instead of eating the carcass itself, it hides behind a boulder, a clump of snow puffs, or whatever happens to be handy. It waits, sometimes days, for azelak scavengers to show up; this is its primary prey. If such is the case where it cannot find a dead creature, it will seek out and stalk an azelak scavenger or whatever caught its fancy, until the opportune moment to pounce. It kills in a similar way to a lion, by asphyxiating its prey. If it's a plent, it will bite down on its butt-nostril to suffocate it; if it's anything else, it will use much the same tactic, covering the breathing passages until it dies. If no meat is available, the shruma will eat snow puffs.