|Common Nicknames||Roly-Poly, Snifflebug, Skrunkly|
|Habitat||Snowy plains of Ellador bordering on forests|
The Skrunklehog also commonly just called Skrunkly, is a very common rodent on the Ellador Continent (though it is actually not a Rodent, Ailor scholars have classified it as such due to its behavior). The Skrunklehog both has large populations in the wild, as well as in domesticated households, as these animals have a very temperate disposition that makes them very suitable to domestication. Skrunklehog are especially popular in Ellador, where children frequently catch a wild Skrunkly, and then tame it. These critters are in fact so grateful for being hand-fed, that they can be domesticated in a single generation, and then provide domesticated offspring beyond that point. Skrunklies can be found as far south as Hadar, imported as house pets, or just for entertainment. Nearly every house pet store in Aloria has at least one Skrunklehog for sale, with potential breeding mates in the back in case they ever run out.
The Skrunklehog does not have much of a storied history. It simply existed from the moment the Altalar arrived Ellador, and will likely exist long after the Isldar are gone from Ellador. The Skrunklehog used to actually have an auburn-brown fur color and spikes before Ellador became frozen. The single most important event in Skrunklehog history, is the final battle between the Dwarves and Cult of Dregodar, where the Isldar were made, and Frisit the Undead Dragon was born. Presumably, while Frisit's spell was unleashed on the valley, some Skrunklehogs had a colony in the nearby treeline. Because the Dragon's spell only targeted hostiles (Dwarves), it presumably did not consider the Skrunklehogs hostile, and turned them into ice-bound versions of their old selves, just as it had done to the Isldar. Presumably, when the continent became a frozen mass, all the Skrunklehogs who were not caught by this spell froze or starved to death outside of the battlefield, but the few Skrunklehogs that survived quickly replaced the lost population, as these critters do not have any natural predators and occupy a single nut-eating niche that is barely found on Ellador. The Skrunklehogs were adopted by Isldar as pets, notably because they too were changed like the Isldar were.
The Skrunklehog is a small mammal with a pointy large-button nose, large inquisitive eyes, and extremely soft fluffy fur on the lower part of its body, and prickly spikes on the back of its body. The Skrunklehog is entirely colored white, save for its brown eyes and black nose. However, due to the extremely densely fibered spikes on its back, they let no color except for blue pass through, causing the roots of their spikes to appear blue like sheets of ice, even if when removed these spikes appear entirely white. The Skrunklehog also has four small three-toed stumpy feet, but rarely uses them to move around, as they only provide stable footing while eating or sleeping upright. Unlike normal hedgehogs, the Skrunklehog also has a small fluffy tail that sticks out in the back. This tail is used to attract mates during mating season by rapidly clopping it onto the floor, producing a high rate of tapping noises. The higher the rate of tapping, the more successful the male is at attracting females.
Life Span and Development
Skrunklehogs are liveborn in small litters of three to five. They are born small and black and remain inside burrowed holes until they form the spikes on their backs, after which the parents stop feeding them and they venture into the world alone. The act of burrow building is actually not something Skrunklehogs do themselves. Rather, when Skrunklehogs are in mating season, they seek out a den built by any of the other burrowing species and creatures of Ellador, and simply claim it as their own. Their spiky back is then used to block off the entrance, while another parent goes out and searches for nuts to feed the infants. After four weeks, a Skrunklehog is essentially mature, and can feed itself. Skrunklehogs live up to five years, but can live up to 10 in captivity if taken care of well and given lots of attention.
Skrunklehogs are very inquisitive and playful, if a little stupid animals. They do not naturally fear any predator, though even if a predator were to be close, they have the ability to defend themselves. The means of rolling up into a spiky ball serves several purposes. Firstly, the spikes are good a preventing a predator from biting them. Secondly, while rolled up into a spiky ball, the Skrunklehog can rapidly travel across snow and ice by manually rolling itself. The thin spikes puncture the ice and snow, thus giving it traction, and the smoothness of the spikes prevents an accumulation of snow that would otherwise cling to fur, allowing the Skrunklehog to rapidly roll across the snow (hence the name Roly-Poly). Lastly, the spikes are also hollow and trap air, thus causing them to have buoyancy. Skrunklehogs can drift on water and never sink, though it does require them to go onto their back. Groups of Skrunklehogs have been witnessed crossing rivers this way, or even colonizing distant lands by simply floating on the river. Skrunklehog are not particularly clever. They can be taught tricks, but frequently get stuck while trying to get snuggly or cry for attention. They can throw a temper tantrum if not given enough food, causing a loud pitch squealing noise, particularly when domesticated.
Territory and Groupings
Skrunklehogs do not really have territory. More often than not, if a Skrunklehog is not in mating seas and it encounters another, it will simply go in a different direction. Skrunklehogs only eat nuts and seeds (they are particularly adept at prying seeds from pine cones with their teeth). Once a Skrunklehog feels like it has exhausted nuts or seeds in an area, it will simply ball up and roll on to the next location to eat. Unlike normal hedgehogs on other continents, Skrunklehogs do not hibernate. Sometimes a Skrunklehog may choose to spend long times of summer asleep to avoid the wet climate of Ellador, but more often than not are they the only rodent out in the open during winter. This also makes the Skrunklehog a good pet to keep all year round.
- Skrunklehogs when held in domestic ownership must be washed frequently. While their needles do not catch snow, they can quickly accumulate dust from the environment, which causes mold to hurt the Skrunklehog. As such, Skrunklehogs must be allowed to dobber around in a bowl of water at least once a week.
- Skrunklehog held in domestic ownership have also learned to appreciate candied and dried fruit. Nuts must always be given to them to balance their diet however, as Skrunklehogs can develop diabetes from eating too much fructose. A diabetic Skrunklehog can always be told apart from non-diabetic Skrunklehogs as it will hyperventilate when it smells food.
- Skrunklehogs do not drink water, nor do they ever require water supplements. Why is not exactly understood, though it is assumed that somehow their back spikes transfer water onto their skin underneath, and that their skin is porous and allows water through, thus hydrating them. It is however recommended not to cause their white fur to become wet too often (they stick out of the water when they float around) as this can result in the animal catching a cold.