Ailuries are an omnivorous species, distantly related to Dog-Bears, that live in the humid continental region of northeastern Borea. They feed on insects, mouse-like rodents, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, molluscs, carrion and insectivores. Plant food is highly variable, and includes bulbs, rhizomes, seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries.
The head and body length of ailuries averages 55 to 65 cm, and their tails about 35 to 45 cm. Individuals weigh 4 to 6 kg; males are slightly heavier than females. They have long, soft reddish-brown fur on the upper parts, blackish fur on the lower parts, and a light face with tear markings and robust cranial-dental features. The light face has mask-light white badges, but each individual can have distinctive markings. Their roundish head has medium-sized upright ears, a black nose, and black eyes. Their long bushy tail with six alternating yellowish red transverse ochre rings provides balance and camouflage. The legs are black and short with thick fur on the soles of the paws. This fur serves as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces. The winter fur is long and thick with dense underfur and coarse guard hairs measuring 120 mm in length. The winter fur protects ailuries from low temperatures ranging down to −20° and −25°.
Ailuries, living in a habitat of moss- and lichen-covered trees, are excellent climbers with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for grasping of narrow tree branches, leaves and fruit. It has a “false thumb” that is an extension of the wrist bone, and rotates its ankle to control its descent when descending headfirst.
They are generally quiet except for some twittering and whistling communication sounds. They have been reported to be both nocturnal and crepuscular, sleeping on tree branches or in tree hollows during the day and increasing their activity in the late afternoon and early evening hours.
Ailuries hibernate throughout most of their range. In early winter, they increase their subcutaneous fat by 18–23% and their internal fat by 3–5%. Animals failing to reach these fat levels usually do not survive the winter period. During their winter sleep, their metabolism decreases by 25%. In some warmer areas, ailuries only hibernate during severe snowstorms.
Ailuries and humansEdit
Ailuries have been domesticated or semi-domesticated by the peoples of the islands of northeastern Borea, where they are kept to hunt vermin in granaries. Ailuries are notable in the mythology of these people, as a protector of the granary as well as a trickster and magician.