Young meldops have yet to develop the fatty humps their parents have, and require food and water more frequently. They remain close to their mothers for their first year of life, and often remain within her sight for a few years after. The juveniles are shy at first, but often learn to be playful around other meldops. When the herd stops to create a mirage refuge for the night, the youngsters can often be seen exploring the oasis and running around with other young meldops. It takes several years for a meldop to master the ability to create a physical mirage, and in wild herds the eldest animals usually team up to create the strongest mirages they can manage. Youngsters may take years before they even attempt to conjure these temporary sanctuaries, and some individuals never learn this ability at all. Most of them do however learn how to spit a mild acid, and will often use this when roughhousing with each other.
Meldops are peculiar and occasionally dangerous creatures but essential to life for nomads and traders. They thrive in dry environments, whether the hot deserts of the Etain or the northern prairies leading up to the Arkene. They get most of the water they need from the plants they consume, and can go for long periods of time without either food or water thanks to humps of fat on their backs. The northern meldop has a shorter hump located over its shoulder and cannot last as long as its southern cousin without food, but in the high prairies it rarely needs to. The northern meldops migrate around the plains each year, wandering into the foothills of the mountains and as far north as the Dark Lake during the summer when the snow is shallowest. In the winter, these creatures can be found passing by the Keep in small herds of ten to twenty, along with other creatures like latifra beasts and musk oxen. Wild northern meldops rarely walk on ground that isn't covered in at least a little bit of frost, though they prefer to avoid larger snow drifts in the winter. They fare surprisingly well in warm climates too, however, and make for hardy pack animals that can easily travel the full trade routes from remote villages in the Arkene down to the southern coast, though their stubborn nature makes them less common travel companions than the southern variety.
Sprite art: Jrap17 | Description: PKGriffin