Large venomous reptiles inhabiting many environments.
Dragons hatch from eggs laid near deep bodies of water. They are mostly aquatic during their juvenile years, during which time they grow from snake-like wyrms to develop the mature features of their species. A female dragon will lay and abandon up to 10 eggs in separate pits in the ground. Depending on the species, it takes ten to twenty years for the eggs to hatch. A hatchling wyrm’s first meal may well be its own sibling, as these creatures are extremely antisocial and territorial. Only very large bodies of water can accommodate more than one wyrm at a time. Lakes and swamps inhabited by wyrms — so-called wyrm waters or wyrm bogs — become slowly contaminated over the centuries by the animals’ acidic venom until they can no longer support wildlife, which effectively weans the young dragons off their “mother waters” and sends them out to find a nesting ground. The venom will dissipate within a few years of the dragon leaving, allowing the habitat to recover.
The nestling age is perhaps when dragons are their most dangerous. When the young, inexperienced and hungry dragons are on the move, looking for a place to nest and hunt, they are most likely to come into contact with settled populations. Nestling migrations account for the vast majority of deaths, livestock losses, and property damage caused by these animals. The other most dangerous period in dragon life is mating, which, fortunately occurs very rarely.
For nesting, dragons prefer mountainous habitats with high altitude caves they can fly in and out of over open land or water to hunt their prey. They will migrate thousands of miles to find an appropriate spot, and fights over nesting areas can be deadly. The area around a dragon’s nest will show signs of frequent burning, and one may detect the acidic odor of the beast’s venom near its cave. Depending on their size, dragons will hunt everything from domestic livestock up to creatures their own size. The largest dragons hunt mainly other dragons and rocs.
Mature dragons have long bodies balanced by long necks and tails, membranous wings, and large, often bone-armored heads. They metabolize their own venom into a gas that allows the creatures to fly despite their un-aerodynamic shapes, rather like an airship that can propel itself with force of its wings. The gas is highly combustible, and when exhaled, will ignite. By breathing fire, dragons control their weight and buoyancy and can execute swift and complex aerial maneuvers, including hovering, high-speed flight, acrobatic changes of direction, plummeting to hit prey from above, and slowly and gently landing on solid ground. Dragons exhale fire regularly to vent gas. The venom infuses their blood and saliva throughout their lives.
Flight, fiery breath, acidic venom, and leathery wings are the hallmarks of all dragons. The different species may have two, four or six legs, likewise multiple heads or tails, a vast array of scaly and bony plating, horns, colors, even some feathers. They display a wide variety of calls and vocalizations with which they alternately warn each other off and attract mates. Dragons are extremely long-lived, and their growth periods are measured in centuries. Fully grown adult dragons can reach sizes comparable to a good-sized house.
Commercially traded dragon products include scales, claws, teeth (for armor, weapons, magic), blood (for potions and magic pigments), and wyrm water (for magic and medicine).