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Breed: Okula Pikilo
Age: 5 months
The palm-sized Okula Pikilo thrives in warm, arid environments. Nests can be found through deserts and dry temperate forests, though only the entrance is aboveground, which can make identification difficult if no adults are currently present. Rather than a place to lay eggs and raise larvae, nests are used as a communal area for feeding, mating, and hibernation. Newly winged Okula Pikilos will either seek out a nearby nest and attempt to join it or gather with other nestless adults to build their own. They use their powerful arms to dig as well as to catch and carry prey, and a swarm can clear a new nest area within a few days. Mating season occurs right before their hibernation period. To lay their eggs, females will seek out mammals—such as Sabla Regos—and temporarily paralyze them with their venomous stinger. While the animal is unable to move, the female will lay an egg deep within each eye. When the larva hatches, it will eat its way out, a process that leaves the host blind. The larva’s waste contains a numbing sedative that seeps into the host’s bloodstream and keeps it relaxed, allowing the larva time to grow until it is ready to take flight.
The creatures that dwell in this rather desolate world still display some diversity in appearance, eating habits, and social behavior. Whether they have fur or feathers, skin or scales, their unique genetic makeup allows for a variety of colors and markings within each species. Despite limitations in food sources, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores are all present in the food chain, and each species requires specialized care within a laboratory. Although the artificial setting of housing units and breeding pods precludes most opportunities to study true interspecific behavior, the interactions within and between species has been studied extensively in the wilderness by scientists daring enough to venture beyond the outpost’s walls.