Critter: Preda Ben

Name - Preda Ben(s) / 'Ben(s) [pronounced 'PRAY-dah BEHN(z)]

Size - 5-8 feet high at the shoulder, with their heads 1.5-2.5 feet higher than that; 7-11 feet long.

Physical Description - 'Bens are thick-bodied, long-limbed bipedal mammals. With thin, sleek fur, they have rounded, muscular torsos that extend into tails that are heavy, blunt, and capable of packing quite a punch for a pursuing hunter. Their thick haunches slim down to long shins and clawed, three-toed talons; their forearms are slender, held close to the chest, and somewhat weak; the forearm splits into two long, sharp-clawed digits at the wrist. Their necks are long and lean, holding their small, wedge-shaped heads high; their jaws are narrow and weak with small, sharp teeth designed for shredding tough foliage. Their eyes are large and far-seeing, and they have no visible ears.

Coloration - Preda Bens are born one solid color - dark burgundy - and become silvery-grey as they age. A young adult will be largely burgundy, with silvery-grey on its undersides, stomach, and throat; old 'Bens are almost completely grey, with burgundy lingering only along their spines. Eyes are usually green; claws are grey or black.

Temperament - 'Bens are surprisingly tactical for being nonsentient beasts. They travel in large herds (30-100+ individuals) with a system of dominance; there are a few big bulls who run the herd, and then a dozen or so large hens, and then a few groups of 'Bens that are old enough to have some experience in fending off hunters. When attacked, 'Bens circle up - the groups of 'guard' Preda Bens form rings around the young and weak of the herd, which in turn have circled around the largest hens and bulls. Though 'Bens will flee if attacked on an individual basis, they are quite staunch in their defense as a herd unit, and hunters must battle past their teeth and claws to get to the best meat. Other than this defensive maneuver, 'Bens are extremely skittish and prone to fleeing; they can often be driven into an ambush by experienced predators.

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