Also known as: land vulture, platypus dog, the beaked blight.
Identification and Field Marks
These nasty little relatives of the Mute Chukarandos are also members of the ghastly-things-with-fur-that-lay-eggs family and have certain traits in common with other members of their family, namely thick, brown, curly fur with black stripes and a white underbelly. However, the tuckarando only grows to a maximum size of two nanits. Also, these wicked little beasts have the unusual feature of a hooked beak, quite reminiscent of Crank's Pocket Eel (no relation). Oddly enough, that predatory beak conceals a vicious set of carnivorous teeth with which the tuckarando tears its prey.
Tuckarandos are, as previously mentioned, related to the Mute Chukarandos. Also, there are at least two sub-species, the dwarf tuckarando, which never exceeds a single nanit in length, and the giant tuckarando, which always exceeds five nanits in length. There is rumored to be a more heavily furred mountain tuckarando as well, but no one has survived to verify, or renounce, their existence.
Originally found in the foothills of Mount Yurch, the living blight known as the tuckarando has migrated to virtually any area of Ghyll that has soft enough ground for them to make their burrows. They can also be found in many major cities, thanks in no small part to the illegal tuckarando trade perpetuated by the infamous Jack "Jackie Tuckarando" Tockanski (below).
The favorite prey of the tuckarando is the Ghyllian ankle. Alternately, they will gnaw fingers stuck into their burrows and, as a last resort, will eat anything else they can get their furry, little paws on. It is unclear on how early their natural development was disturbed by Ghyllians hiking up Mount Yurch, but tuckarandos must have surely sought other prey at one time. They have a very sweet song, rather like an astatic [You call this a word? --Burgengute (Sorry, that should have read athsmatic. Damn pyxies! --Doctor Phineas Crank)] Freege Horn, which will draw animal visitors from miles around. However, it is their amazing ability to mimic sounds, including the Ghyllian voice, that naturalists find so interesting. Is it this ability that let them lure their earlier prey to its doom? Or have they simply made a pact with the forces of darkness? Who can say? In any case, it is this ability that makes them both so valued and so illicit ("Economic Importance", below)
Young and Breeding
As implied by their family name, tuckarandos are egg-layers. They prefer to lay their freshly fertilized eggs in the toe-jam of Ghyllians who have hiked up Mount Yurch, but they'll tuck their eggs into any fleshy nook or cranny that they can find. These eggs hatch just a few days after being fertilized and implanted on their host. The resulting immature tuckarandos are a fraction of a nanit in size and quickly burrow into the soft parts of the unfortunate Ghyllian who incubated them. The result is not pretty at all and results in painful warts in the affected area. Six to eight weeks later, the adolescent tuckarandos work their way back to the surface of their host and begin to devour him or her. Any tuckarandos that survive the process scamper off to find their first ankle to bite, thus perpetuating their species. No one has actually seen tuckarandos mate, but it is assumed to be a process rather like Ghyllian reproduction, but without as much fanfare.
Because of their reproductive habits, tuckarandos are outlawed in every "civilized" Ghyllian settlement; however, as previously mentioned, that has not prevented a stiff trade in "Back Market" tuckarandos. The individual primarily responsible for creating both the demand and the supply in this illicit pet market is none other than Jack "Jackie Tuckarando" Tockanski. He discovered that the vile, little beasts had one interesting ability which made them quite popular pets with a certain wealthy class of people, namely, their ability to imitate sound. Rather like a mynah bird, these disgusting creatures can mimic virtually any sound, including the Ghyllian voice. Specially trained tuckarandos became quite the sensation for some time and there were even rumors that some of the poxy creatures could actually carry on conversations with their Ghyllian owners. In fact, it is this rumor that inspired the story of the most famous tuckarando of all, P'Jubal, Fijjit Mejora’s long-time friend in the best-selling "Fijjit and the Fefferberry Failure".
--Doctor Phineas Crank 00:22, 12 Mar 2005 (EST)