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 southern meldop has a massive hump located over its back and can last well over a month without food if well-fed beforehand. Southern meldops migrate around the Etain desert each year, wandering from oasis to oasis in constant search of food and water. During the wet season, they can often be seen running around fertile temporary plains in the far south in great numbers, taking advantage of few weeks when seasonal creeks and rivers overflow their banks and flood. This is an important time for keepers of tamed meldops too, as it is also the meldop breeding season. Many nomads will release their animals to breed with wild populations and graze their herds on the lush greenery, trusting their companions to return when the waters recede. Occasionally those who wander these temporary fields will find abandoned meldop eggs they can raise into their own travelling companions as well.
Sprite art: Jrap17 | Description: PKGriffin