If you would find yourself in the Forest of Contamar of Blain Woods, chances are you might spot a snake unlike any other. A snake with fur; snow-white if it is as cold as usual and golden if a tiny, lousy, bit of warmth is in the air. This creature is called a "Snynx". When icy winds blow through the hrugchuck grass, the snynx will keep on its business while other snakes would have frozen stiff. The origin of the word 'Snynx' is unknown, but may possibly be related to the local elven name for the creature 'Ermyníc'.
The Snynx is a snake
covered with soft, snow-white or golden brown fur. It has no legs and it
slithers fluidly along the ground, in sinuous coils.
The Snynx's head has a serpentine shape, slightly offset from the neck. The eyes, on the other hand, are decidedly non-reptilian, large, shining with liquid, and black, reminiscent to those of a fox or a deer. At the back of the head, the Snynx has a pair of feathery antennae, supposedly used for communicating with other Snynxes. They are moved about much like a pair of cat's ears. Snynxes have sharp fangs without poisonous qualities and forked, black, tongues. A Snynx moves its tongue to taste the air, so fast it seems to be but a blur.
The fur is thick and white in the winter, and slightly thinner and golden in the summer. If no warmth is received in the spring, the Snynxes keep their white coats. The exception to this are certain permanently white Snynxes bred by Malysan in captivity. A special oil from the glands at the end of the tail is used to keep the fur glossy and soft, allowing the Snynx to glide smoothly along the ground.
The skeletal structure shows a long, slender, flexible spine. The jaw can be dislocated from the skull, allowing the Snynx to consume prey that would seem too large to fit in its long, slender, throat. It has been observed that some larger Snynx can open their jaws wide enough to swallow a shupsh whole.
Snynxes grow to reach, on average, two peds in length. A few longer specimens have been seen by hunters. Female Snynxes are larger than males, without anyone knowing why that is, but otherwise they are similar in appearance.
The Snynx's thick fur and skin allow it to withstand bites of furious mother
mice trying to defend their nests, as well as offering some protection against
Snynxes are not limited to hunting at ground level. These creatures are able swimmers, climbers and burrowers, enabling them to diversify their diet. When floating on the surface of water, their oiled fur is water-repellent. Snynxes have been seen in both bushes and trees, stretching their bodies from fixed points, then drawing them together before pushing out again, wormlike. They wrap their bodies around branches and stretch for others. This is what makes snynxes such excellent climbers. The slender body makes movement underground an easy task. Tunnels that would be inaccessible to broader creatures only make their fine coats dirty.
Territory. The Snynxes' main territory is the Peninsula of Iol, particularly along the west coast. They will be seen aplenty in the Forest of Contamar, Blain Woods and as far as the Lofty Lake, but are a rare sight beyond that. They like to hide in the hrugchuck grass, but the easiest way to spot them is when they climb trees or the occasional boulder.
Habitat/Behaviour. Unlike other snakes, Snynxes don't hibernate. The fur is thought to be the reason to this; if one have a coat, one doesn't need to stay indoors during the winter.
The Snynx typically uses several dens for ordinary sleep, often taken from prey species. Any self-made nests are made of whatever soft materials found in the frozen world in which the Snynxes live, in hollow trunks, river banks, rock crevices or thickets. Snynxes usually are the most active during the day. During the mating season, or in warmer areas, they may be active during the night.
Snynxes are silent hunters and can approach without a sound, then rush upon their prey. The slender body allows them to easily enter underground burrows. Snynxes do spend a lot of time under frozen logs, rocks, or underground in rock openings or rodent burrows, but they are also able to climb. Snynxes kill their prey by constriction, wrapping their bodies around the unfortunate creatures they come across.
Larger carnivores eat Snynxes, particularly the nasty eagles. If feeling defensive, Snynxes may roll up into balls, biting as swiftly as lightning and hissing loudly.
Diet. Being carnivorous, Snynxes will hunt for hrugchuck and field mice, fish, nesting birds, bird eggs and insects. Baby mice are the favorite prey. Snynxes kill their prey by constriction, wrapping their body around them until their hearts stop and they can’t breathe. Snynxes can constrict multiple prey simultaneously, though that has only rarely been seen. Prey above ground is stalked silently through the hrugchuck grass and ambushed.
Mating. Snynxes give birth to live young that don't suckle. Instead, the young are fed baby mice, though they eat surprisingly little. Snynxes breed once a year, around Singing Bird or Rising Sun. When mating, the male will climb onto the female, teasingly rubbing her body and enticing her with seductive hisses. The actual copulation is usually over in less than an hour. The pair remain together for a week or more, mating several times. Then the male leaves, as he doesn't assist in caring for the young.
A litter of 3-8 young is produced in late autumn, allowing the family to nestle together during the winter. The babies are born a fore long, with white, silky fur and huddle together. The nest is lined with fur from animals that the mother Snynx has killed. The young leave in spring, hoping for warm weather, but they are not mature until they reach their third year.
Usages. In rare cases, Snynxes may used as pets. The reason for this rarity is their geographically concentrated territory in a forgotten corner of Northern Santharia. As pets, Snynxes are docile and seldom bite. When being picked up, a tame Snynx will gently wrap around the holder's arm.
The Evanthorhim elves have a special relation to Snynxes, living side by side with them. While some might be shocked by the notion of giving snakes to children, that doesn't bother the Evanthorhim. They are wary of keeping them with infant children, though, lest an accident should happen.
The Evanthorhim rarely eat Snynx, as there isn't much flesh on the creatures. Instead, the fur is used to make caps, mittens and muffs. If the fur is going to be used for anything larger, more than one Snynx has to give its life - considered a waste by the elves since larger creatures are available.
Researchers. Malysan of the Evanthorhim is to receive credit for all the information provided of Snynxes here, few having the patience or inclination to travel to the Snynxes' domain. Malysan is a breeder of a special strain of Snynxes that remain white despite the shifting of the seasons. He has been kind enough to tell us of how his grandmother, Guinilla, found the first permanently white Snynx. Here is a rough translation of his words:
It was an unusually warm summer, many years ago.
Guinilla set out from her home village to scout for game. No movement, no
breath of wind nor any buzzing insect escaped her notice, for she was an
apt huntress. The sun peeked between the clouds and a family of five
eagles flew in and lined themselves up on some cracked boulders among the
icy roots of the Phéran'Exhonanhé, the frozen trees.