|Official Name||Desert Mouse|
|Common Nicknames||Sand Demon|
There is a saying Farah’deen, “It is not the things you see that will kill you.” This saying comes from the desert mouse, which may be one of the deadliest creatures in the desert, despite not being venomous nor aggressive. It is synonymous with the sands of Farah’deen, a bane to nomads and city-dwellers alike, preying on any food source it can come across. It lives within the various cities that sprawl across Farah’deen as well as the vast deserts that stretch over the continent. Many nomads fear this rodent, as it will eat through their supplies like little else, causing them to die within the unforgiving wastes. Its infamy comes from an incident that is often spoken in many taverns across Farah’deen, in which a colony of these mice overtook over the food stores of an entire town, and pushed them into starvation.
It is thought that the desert mouse has been around as long as Farah’deen has been a continent, though it was first recorded in 100 AC, within a book called “Alqawarid” translating to “Rodents”. It details the story of a town that was overrun by mice, resulting in the townspeople starving in the weeks following the incident. Many of its readers take this tale to be a real ordeal, though this story turned out to be nothing more than a folktale construed by Qadir to strike fear into the hearts of the ignorant. The true origins of the desert mouse are unknown, though it is theorized that they’ve been isolated on the desert continent of Farah’deen for centuries, even millennia.This is due to their stark contrast in comparison to other mice found around Aloria. Some even mistakenly identify them as a different type of animal altogether.
In an effort to combat the ever-looming threat of this rodent, the Qadir came up with gadgets that made screeching noises unsettling enough to deter the mice from settling near food stores, as well as homes. The Songaskia had troubles of their own, as platoons of men would lose their rations to these mice which would come out at night and dig away at their food until it was gone. This battle, often called “The Mouse War” has been fought since the Songaskia appeared in Farah’deen, and continues to rage, especially during times of civil strife.
The folktale detailed in “Alqawarid” began to evolve into rumors. It is said that if you travelled through the sands at night, hordes of mice would overrun you and your crew, and leave you with nothing but a bare wagon and some water to drink. Songaskia actively despise these creatures, and are called ‘Sand Demons’ by nobles and nomads alike. To this day, all peoples in Farah’deen are careful to take precautions, often with little success, to deter these creatures from eating away at their food.
The desert mouse is an oddity in comparison to other mice found around Aloria, as it is native to the deserts of Farah’deen, and unable to live outside the desert climate. It has developed unique traits to help it survive in its harsh environment. A full grown desert mouse is the size of an Ailor’s fist. The most prevalent trait found in an adult desert mouse is its ears, which tend to be nearly the size of its entire body. These allow for them to be able to hear even the slightest movement in the sands or cobble. The tail of the desert mouse is nearly two inches in length when they are fully grown. It is unclear why their tail is so long, as it appears to be more harmful to them than helpful. Predators tend to be able to identify or mistake the rodent’s tail as a small creature that they can prey on, thus making it a target. They have a long snout ending with their nose, adorned with two sharp teeth. They use these to poke holes in bags, and defend their young when necessary.
The back legs of the mouse are shaped similar to those of a jaded pintry roo, which allow them to jump across the sands at a rapid pace. Their back feet are long and thin, so that the surface area of the feet minimizes burning from the sands. Their front paws, which have five-finger hands, are significantly shorter than their back legs and are used to feed themselves as well as to grasp onto things. Their eyes are large and located between their large ears and their snout. They are observed to be beady and entirely black with no iris. They have reflective properties as the desert mouse is almost entirely nocturnal and uses the moon’s light in order to see in the dark. Their eyesight is almost as good as their hearing in the dark, but they are almost entirely blind in the daytime due to the bright light of the sun overwhelming their senses. The fur color of the rodent varies from brown, grey, white, tan, and generally any color that can be used to blend into the sands. Their fur is thick and medium length as to keep them from freezing to death during cold desert nights.
The male and female varieties of this animal are nearly the same. The males of this species are actually slightly smaller than the female, and usually have a shorter lifespan. There are no significant differences in hair color between the male and females, they come in all varieties.
Life Span and Development
The lifespan of this rodent tends to be three to five years in the wild, and only three years in captivity. In the wild it is the source of food for many of the larger mammals that inhabit Farah’deen’s deserts. The Desert Mouse gives birth to up to six live young, known as litters multiple times a year, as its pregnancy cycle is only two months long. At birth, the mice are blind and deaf for two or three days before opening their eyes and being taught how to survive by their mother. Its ears are rather small until it is about a year old, where it begins to develop the signature large ears that it is known for. At age three it will be fully grown and begin reproducing until its death.
It is entirely possible to tame these mice, but it is suggested that if you tame one, then you should tame multiple and start a colony because of its decreased lifespan in the absence of other mice. For this reason, along with it being nocturnal and generally considered a pest, it is not common to see a domesticated desert mouse.
Like all mice, the Desert Mouse can be trained and tamed, though it is not often done due to several reasons. It sleeps during the day within whatever burrow it has created, thus making it a far less useful pet than a dog, or even a Candle Mouse. Additionally, it will refuse to eat in the absence of other mice to socialize with, very quickly starving itself to death. It is suggested that if you wish to tame one of these mice, you start a small colony with minimal food so that they don’t refuse to eat. Most Songaskia consider this rodent to be a pest that needs to be exterminated, causing their domestication to be a rather rare sight.
The desert mouse is a docile creature, unless its young are threatened, in which case they will use their sharp front teeth to bite whatever foe might be attacking their burrow. These animals are omnivorous, though tend to mainly stick to eating the grains within food stores. That isn’t to say if there is an opportunity to eat they’ll pass it up. It isn’t uncommon for one to be found consuming human corpses, animal corpses, various cacti, and snake eggs.
Territory and Groupings
The desert mouse lives in colonies, of which their sizes can range from up to one thousand in one colony in extreme cases, though generally, it is the norm to find a hundred or so living together. Every pack has an alpha, though the alpha does not have exclusive breeding rights to all females in the colony. They are not territorial, and sometimes two colonies can be found less than a few hundred yards apart. The desert mouse is not considered migrational though, if there is no food nearby, the mice will move on until they find another food source that can sustain their colony. Interestingly, the mice will eat itself full before revealing a food source to the rest of the colony. In the desert plains, it is not uncommon to only find a couple of these mice living together, as there is less food to go around. This rodent cannot live outside the desert, so any mice that happen to stow away on ships die shortly after leaving the desert. It is unclear why they perish so quickly outside of the deserts of Farah’deen.
- Songaskia have notices around major ports to warn travellers of these mice.
- In some places outside of Farah’deen the mouse’s meat is considered a delicacy, as it is hard to obtain and very little is able to be used from each mouse. The preparation for the meal is also difficult, only adding to the expense of the meal should the customer want it.