In praise of the rare and unfamiliar…

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!             
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”…

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

Those of us who grew up on nonsense and fantasy can likely recite “Jabberwocky” in our sleep. Though ending badly for the magnificent burbling beast, for many Carroll’s verse was a popular introduction to the much populated realm of lesser—or pseudo—dragons who range from the massive wyrms and wyverns to the (relatively) minute aitvaras and pisuhänd. Some have wings, some don’t; some have two legs, four, or none. Some are aggressive, some benevolently domestic. Every geographical nook and cranny, every culture and sub-culture, has their own passel of pseudo dragons.

Testy wyvern.

It’s impossible to talk about every single species (see The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook for a more detailed discussion of these marvelous creatures). The familiar (nagas, gowrows, ouroboros, kiaus, et al.) are international in their range.

Ouroboros

The lesser-known—fen-flappers, bi-polar Equator jumpers (a depressive lot), lowland marsh drachs (who have such rapacious appetites for water fowl that they’ve driven more than one canard to the verge of extinction)—are delightfully unique and environmentally idiosyncratic.

 

 

 

 

 

Diggers, tree-skimmers, house dragons, they are the touch of the draconic which resides in the corners of the everyday and makes life prismatically interesting. In the end, every dracophile has their own favorites.

Tree-skimmers

Pseudo dragons, like their True cousins are vital to the health of the planet. They clean the waterways and keep vermin under control. Where they thrive, the Earth thrives. If for no other reason than this, today we celebrate them in their infinite variety.

In the name of the Jabberwocky, it’s time to embrace and appreciate all the rare and unusual dragons of the world. So cook up a nice herb omelette for your house dragon, stock your pond with koi for the local kiau. As for the rest, set vorpal sword aside, leave your bandersnatch at home, pick up your camera, and go dragon watching. No better way to honor dragon diversity!

A word of caution: As a rule, pseudo dragons are more instinctual and less intelligent than their True Dragon cousins. They have caught in the crosshairs of human sprawl over the past century. All of which makes many species either reclusive or aggressive. Know your local species and don’t take foolish chances (i.e. keep a safe distance). Even the smallest pseudo dragon can cause grievous injury if cornered or pushed.

What are your favorite lesser species? What about them sparks your interest? Have your encounters been up-close-and-personal or via telephoto lens?

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