|Official Name||Calemberger Ferret|
|Common Nicknames||White Rat, Anklebiter|
|Habitat||Calem regions, Regalian Archipelago|
Calemberger Ferrets are a species of a rare mustelid local to the mountainous regions of Greater Calem, the term for the quartet of Calem regions that once made up the Wirtemcaller Kingdom. Rendered almost extinct by the kingdom in a strange fervor against the creature, they eventually returned, only for greedy Ailor merchants and hunters to again cut their populations. Now, the animal is a protected creature, its fur rare and highly valued on the fashion market. The species is also known for its odd practice of favoring certain members of their litters and for a ferocious disposition given they have been nearly rendered extinct twice.
The Calemberger Ferret has a more limited history in the region now containing the Calem regions than might be imagined. It is believed that the Wirtemcaller Kingdom knew of it from an early period, but considered it of lesser importance than other creatures, like the Calemberger Fox. As a result, the Ferret was sidelined for decades, allowed to thrive in the wild and persist across the lands of the ancient kingdom. However, beginning around 100 BC, a craze swept through the area, seeking the animal’s extinction. Some believe an outbreak of plague in the ancestral capital of the kingdom caused this sudden dislike, while others believe an aborted attempt by a cabal of fur traders to take over the kingdom’s capital led to their source of revenue being stomped out, or perhaps the animal of their sigil greatly vilified. Regardless, the negative opinion swept out of the Wirtem capital and ended with thousands of the species dead, though many now able to afford food that winter or keeping warm off the skinning and use or sale of the animal’s fur.
At this point, the animal was thought to be extinct. In the decades after the Cataclysm, the loss of the animal turned into a tragedy for the Wirtemcaller people, and it wasn’t until 110 AC that reports emerged of living specimens in the wildest, rugged communities of the deep forests. However, by that time, the kingdom had torn itself apart, and its people further ignored the animal while they focused on seeking out an existence. It wasn’t until 280 AC that the animal’s population climbed back up to a notable level, but an ill-advised business move by a hunting company caused a stiff plummet in the animal’s numbers. But this time, the region was ready; the company was forcibly dissolved, and House Typhonus made the animal illegal to kill, followed by large portions of the New Regalian nobility. The animal now survives in the protected lands of the Calem regions, off-limits to even the hunting groups allowed to operate in these grounds. However, every few years, a few illicit deals take place, and new Calemberger Ferret pelt clothing is made, bringing scrutiny to those involved, save the person who actually bought it.
The Calemberger Ferret reaches between a foot and a foot and a half long and weighs only a few pounds. Their head has a flat, small nose, short, black whiskers, a short snout, with two small pointed ears sitting on top, and a pair of small brown eyes. Their bodies are lithe and delicate, with four limbs and four small paws helping to support them. Their body ends in a short, pointed tail, and furthermore, is covered in a thick layer of uniform white fur.
The Calemberger Ferret is suspected to have a higher birth rate of males, given the number of specimens that have been killed in the past two centuries being of that gender, but this is ultimately unknown. The species also possesses sexual dimorphism, with males always larger than females.
Life Span and Development
Calemberger Ferrets give birth to litters of up to six babies, but it has a curious mentality that goes against the instincts of most other mammals. Mothers will actively pick favorites from their brood, caring for one or two children over the others, sometimes to the point of full neglect. Single females living close by will sometimes come and take the neglected babies, raising them alone as their own. When they are born, Calemberger Ferrets are small, pink, and hairless, but within two weeks, rapidly grow their first layer of fur and open their eyes, and are able to walk and interact with the world. They mature relatively fast after this point, being capable of mating at six months old. They live for about four years and mate for life.
The Calemberger Ferret, as mentioned earlier, has a curious mentality laced with the concept of favoritism. Of their litters, one or two “prime children” are chosen to be fully cared for while all others are neglected, to varying degrees. This has likely resulted from the species’ previous extinctions. Additionally, should a prime child die, the Ferrets will not choose another one, and instead sink into a depression, neglecting both themselves and their remaining offspring. However, single female Ferrets have been observed to intervene during these and other times, spiriting away the neglected litter not for consumption, but for care. It appears only after a female is mated does she give up on the mentality of properly caring for a full group of offspring. Male Calemberger Ferrets are described as vicious, murderous creatures. They are ruthless during the mating season, battling for over an hour in order to defend their claim to a chosen mate, sometimes even killing the other suitor in the process. However, females can also reject mates, and thus go unmated for a season, being just as vicious in their refusal should a suitor try and push their luck. Male Ferrets are also aggressive with hunters and Humans overall, often attacking them unprovoked or first upon sighting a figure or figures nearby. This can be hard however, as it is believed their sense of smell is limited, though others suggest their eyesight is enhanced to make up for this deficit.
Territory and Groupings
Calemberger Ferrets dig tunnels and burrows to live in through a small area of earth, which is known as a congregation. These groups number between four to six mated pairings, with single males and females keeping close by, though in their own individual burrows. Congregations are never built close to one another, suggesting some sense of territory in the creatures, but their low numbers have made assessing this impossible. They are most commonly found in and around mountains, where their white fur makes it easiest for them to survive.
- Some darkly compare the mentality of Calemberger Ferrets to that of the New Regalian elite, combat-focused, favoring one or two children while neglecting others
- Calemberger Ferrets are considered by some to be connected to Dragons, given that their congregation are supposedly gathered around the scant few Dragon Temples sitting in the natural peaks of Greater Calem.