It is now known that the torra, among many of its relatives, is a small carnivorous member of the spotorid family, alongside the larger filter-feeding spoori.
Torra are characterized by a long, broad head, small, sharp, homogenous teeth, wide pectoral fins, protruding pelvic fins, two large gill slits on their back, and a rounded tail fin much like the tail of an Ashkathi. Torra have light-colored spots on their back, anywhere from blue to yellow, and their coloration varies from a deep purple to dark brown, or even sandy-colored. Their eyes are wide, yellow, and unblinking. Most torra are roughly the size of large breeds of canines. The average length for a torra is around 4 feet from snout to tail.
Like most wildlife from Larine, torra have a cartilaginous skeleton. In torra, however, the front limbs have spread out to the side and widened out into rigid "plates" that stick out to their sides. They can tuck in these "plates" in order to move quickly through the water. The lower jaw of a torra is only tangentially connected to the rest of the skull, by a series of strong muscle attachments and cartilage. Torra, during the mating season, will lay anywhere from 5 to 10 eggs, which hatch in 3 months. Torra pups reach maturity in 5 years. On average, a torra will live for 15 years in the wild, and routinely live upwards of 20 years in captivity.
The torra is a specialized predator of kull, mostly the common kull. A torra's jaws are designed to snap through the kull's tough outer shell, and a fully-grown torra can eat half its weight in kull a day. On other worlds where kull are not as plentiful, torra have adapted to eat local small creatures like dantiiki, but torra do not gain as much nutrition from non-kull diets.
Torra are specialized pack hunters. A pack of torra consists of anywhere from 2 to 10 individuals, usually family members or at least a mated pair. The oldest male leads the pack. However, torra will defer to the commands of an Ashkathi trainer if one is present. Millennia of domestication by Ashkathi has made the torra species subservient to them. Even completely wild torra do not fear or attack Ashkathi unless starving or injured.
Regardless, torra are extremely aggressive towards their favored prey, the kull. Torra trap them by flanking the school and herding them into the rest of the pack.
Torra show affection by swimming in circles around the object of its affection, whistling, and nuzzling its owner. When threatened, the torra arches its back, barks (see below), and bares its teeth, snapping if a perceived threat approaches too closely.
Torra usually make a high-pitched trilling or chirping sound when communicating with others of its species. Torra pups will make a whistling chirp call to its parents, and adult torra continue to make these calls to Ashkathi trainers. When agitated, torra make a deep trill that resembles the purr of a cat, followed by a sudden "Ka-keh! Ka-keh!"
Torra in captivity Edit
Torra, due to their history of domestication by Ashkathi, are commonly kept as pets by Ashkathi. The animals are extremely friendly, almost to the point of acting like puppies. They are loyal and obedient pets, and are often trained to help Ashkathi hunt for kull. Torra regard Ashkathi owners as the leader of the pack, and defer to the Ashkathi's instructions in many cases.
Due to their dietary and environmental requirements, it is not recommended for members of other species to attempt to own a torra as a pet. Torra are not used to other species, and are much less obedient towards them, in some cases even attacking prospective owners. However, with proper training, a torra will defer to a non-Ashkathi owner much as it would an Ashkathi.
Torra in culture Edit
The torra is venerated in Ashkathi culture as a hunter and a powerful trickster figure. The most revered spirit animal in Ashkathi mythology is Torra, who fills a similar role to Coyote, Br'er Rabbit, and Anansi on Earth, a trickster spirit. He is a cheeky and mischievous being, always playing practical jokes on the other animals. In one story, Why Torra Chases the Kull, the kull pull a trick on him in return, giving him his trademark blue spots.
Shamans, or "paint-singers" as they are called in Gaale, often emulate the torra's traditional spotted coloring in order to adapt its traits and channel the torra's hunting prowess.