! Sandshrew Line

!! Morphs [Oak Catalog #]

* Sandshrew [027]
* Sandslash [028]

!! Physical Description

The members of the Sandshrew line are bipedal, hydrophobic creatures that while commonly misdescribed as "Mouse Pokemon", [[http://bulbanews.bulbagarden.net/wiki/On_the_Origin_of_Species:_Sandshrew_and_Sandslash possess features and behaviors that are more akin with philodote lifeforms.]]. Sandshrew on average stand approximately 60 centimeters in height and weigh just over 10 kilograms and are characterized by their typically timorous temperament, their yellow plate-like scales that cover all regions of its body barring its cream-colored underbelly and muzzle, and their small but sharp claws on the digits of its paws and feet. Their more mature, more aggressive brethren stand roughly a meter high, average almost 20 kilograms heavier than their younger counterpart, and retain the cream-colored underbelly and muzzle, but have an exposed yellow hide. Sandslash also have brown scales that protrude in a spike-like manner and protect a smaller region of its body along its back, as well as longer and sharper claws on its forelimbs. Sandshrew with green scales and Sandslash with red "spikes" have been occasionally documented and are prized in some circles for their rarity and novel coloration.

The Sandshrew's indigenous to the Alola region are white and blue rather than yellow and white, for reasons explained below.

!! Notable Biology

Both Sandshrew and Sandslash possess rigid scales composed of keratin. The scales are renowned for their durability, and they will regrow within approximately 24 hours if broken off. Both species share the common defense mechanism of curling into balls in order to protect their unarmored underbellies from attack. Curled-up Sandshrew have their scales aligned with their body, which absorb the brunt of an impact by a falling object or an assailant's blow. Curled-up Sandslash have their scales jut out like spikes, which gash any foe foolhardy enough to attack them directly. In enclose areas such as tunnels, these spikes dig into their surroundings, enabling individuals to prevent themselves from being dragged out of their burrows. It should be noted that while a Sandslash's characteristic "spike-ball" defense provides a greater defense against attackers, the scales' position leaves them more vulnerable to being broken off.

Both morphs possess a highly water-efficient metabolism, which enables individuals in many regions of the world to subsist without ever directly drinking from a body of water. Both species have teeth, which while capable of being used in a Super Fang attack in captivity (with great difficulty), are ill-adjusted to chewing food, making both species reliant on their sharp claws to cut their food into manageable portions. This practice, coupled with a natural aversion to water, leads to the growth of numerous dangerous pathogens on the claws of Sandshrew and Sandslash which enables it to poison and weaken prey and foes alike.

Both Sandshrew and its elder counterpart appear to exhibit extraordinary problem solving skills, one of the most prominent of these can be seen in these creatures' often phenomenal ability to circumvent navigational barriers, which makes successfully keeping them in enclosures outside of Poké Balls a hassle. Other manifestations of these problem solving skills can be seen in hunting behaviors, including the use of gravitationally-sourced momentum in order to ambush prey from trees or from rolling starts from inclines and constructing sand traps, albeit of a lesser quality than those generated by creatures such as Trapinch, for similar purposes.

Sandshrew and Sandslash are differentiated by two known submorphs. The more common submorph is known for its capabilities to evade detection via camouflage, especially in environments with surroundings similar in coloration or pattern to its body, which enables these creatures great cover in the presence of sandstorms. A second, rarer submorph has less developed bodily camouflage, but at the same time appears to trend above the average individual from the more common submorph in limb strength, which makes these creatures more versatile at digging than their more numerous brethren.

The Sandshrew and Sandslash that inhabit the Alola region are drastically different from their mainland cousins. These island dwellers have physiologies matching those of the Ice and Steel types rather than Ground, and as thus, are covered in ice with the hardness of steel. They also do not evolve through normal means, but through exposure to Ice Stones. This type change makes them extremely resistant to the species' typical aversion to water, but instead leaves them vulnerable to Fire and Fighting attacks.

!! Habitat

Sandshrew and Sandslash are most commonly found in deserts and arid grasslands, but stable populations have also been documented living in mountainous regions, caves, and some temperate regions. Both species live in burrows, though in some regions it is not unheard of to find Sandslash in trees lying in wait for prey. Although both species have a well-known aversion to water, there are a small number of areas near large bodies of water which are known to have Sandshrew and Sandslash living in them, most notably seaside Routes 26 and 27 in Kanto. Regions known to host large populations of these creatures include mountainous regions in northeastern and western Kanto, in a region intersecting with Johto's Union Cave and Route 32, in Central Hoenn along Routes 111 and 113, in Sinnoh's Wayward cave and in the regions around Route 228, and in and around Unova's Relic Castle to the north of Castelia, as well as Route 15.

!! Diet

Individual Sandshrew and Sandslash are notoriously finicky eaters, so a reliable diet has yet to be cataloged. Both Sandshrew and Sandslash are known to hunt for food, with present observations suggesting a heavy bias towards insect-like prey. Commonly observed feeding habits include ambushing weak or injured creatures near their burrows and leaving under the cover of sandstorms to hunt for prey outside of their burrows. In temperate areas, Sandslash have been observed scaling trees in order to lie in wait for unsuspecting prey. Both Sandslash and Sandshrew have also been readily observed eating fruit and plant matter, which is believed by researchers to be their primary source of moisture.

!! Hazards

Like any Pokémon, battling or attempting to capture a wild Sandshrew or Sandslash without suitably trained Pokémon of one's own is exceedingly hazardous. Although small and usually timid, threatening or otherwise antagonizing a Sandshrew is something to be done by only the incredibly foolhardy. Despite their small stature and preference to fleeing or curling up into a ball over fighting in the face of danger, a Sandshrew's claws are more than capable of leaving gashes deep enough to require stitches. In addition, a scratch from wild or an improperly-groomed captive Sandshrew can result in a dangerous infection from the pathogens that call a Sandshrew's claws home if not promptly treated and sterilized. Antagonizing a Sandslash is an exercise for the suicidal, as they are markedly stronger and more aggressive than their younger brethren and have sent many an overconfident or abusive Trainer to the hospital or the morgue from wounds or toxins from their claws.

Other, more mundane hazards associated with keeping Sandshrew and Sandslash stem from their abilities to escape enclosures. Although these behaviors generally do not amount to anything less innocuous than an occasional raid on a pantry, emptying of a closet's contents, or vanishing to seemingly unknown parts for hours at a time, it should be noted that Sandshrew have been known to chew on electrical wiring, which can present a safety and fire hazard. The popularity of members of this line among relatively young trainers, due in no small part to the success of [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog a long-running video game franchise centered around an unusually fast Sandslash]], is a constant source of consternation for health officials, who in some regions [[ScareEmStraight have begun running televised public service announcements imploring young trainers to exercise caution]] in battling, capturing, and raising wild Sandshrew or Sandslash.

!! Courting

Both Sandshrew and Sandslash are capable of breeding and reproducing, though it is typically uncommon for Sandshrew to mate with another member of its line in the wild. Both Sandslash and its younger counterpart appear to share a common mating ritual, in which a male will circle a female in heat for hours at a time until either the female accepts the male's advances or drives him off. During the time that a male spends wooing his prospective mate, he may find a rival suitor attempt to interrupt his advances, in which case there is a brief battle between the two with the loser being driven away from the female by the victor. Due to the armored physiology of members of this line, injuries from these battles are seldom serious, though grievous injuries and deaths resulting from these battles are not unheard of. After selecting a mate, the male and the female mate in the female's burrow, and separate after shortly afterwards.

!! Social Structure

Sandslash are semi-solitary creatures, living in individual burrows in fairly close proximity to burrows of other members of its line that are shared only with mates while breeding or by a female's eggs or young. Like many mammalian Pokémon, members of the Sandshrew line exhibit what appears to be a peculiar form of ovoviviparity in which eggs fertilized while mating are capable of both hatching within its mother's womb and outside of it. Eggs produced by Sandshrew and by individuals that mate multiple times in a relatively short timespan appear to typically hatch outside their mothers' wombs while eggs produced by Sandslash and individuals from this line that mate less frequently appear to typically hatch inside their mothers' womb. Curiously, captive Sandshrew and Sandslash appear to almost never exhibit ovoviviparous birth in captivity, which has led some researchers to speculate that an individual Sandshrew/Sandslash's psychological state may affect the manner in which it reproduces.

Like many young Pokémon, Sandshrew are blind upon hatching from their eggs, and are fully dependent upon their mother for protection and sustenance for the first 2-3 weeks of their lives. For a period of time lasting roughly 6-8 months, a female member of the Sandshrew line will nurture her young, teach them how to forage and hunt for prey, and protect them from predators before driving them out of her burrow to fend for themselves. Upon being forced to leave their mother's burrow, Sandshrew will typically dig new burrows that they will share with 2-5 siblings or acquaintances. These communal burrows are highly unstable, with members routinely driven off over squabbles over food and shelter to fend for themselves or find shelter at another communal burrow. As the Sandshrew age and draw nearer to the point of their evolution into Sandslash, they tend to segregate themselves into smaller and smaller groups that are typically entirely dissolved shortly before or shortly after their evolution.

!! In Human Society

Historically, Sandshrew and its elder counterpart have had a mixed reputation amongst humans that have encountered them. Sandshrew and Sandslash digging behavior is often highly disruptive to their immediate surroundings, which has lead to them being labeled a garden and agricultural pest at times. At the same time, Sandshrew and Sandslash have often been utilized as aids to dispose of litter in return for food or medicinal substances. Sandshrew and Sandslash have also historically been used to rescue and aid stranded travelers in deserts, due to their resistance to sunstroke, which enables them to remain out in desert conditions without water for much longer periods of time than their handlers.

Due to their perception as being generally timorous and innocuous, Sandshrew and Sandslash have long been a staple of media, including in media directed towards children, including as the mascot of a prominent series of platforming video games. A recurring gag in media is the use of a curled-up Sandshrew as a stand-in for a ball, with the Sandshrew uncurling afterwards either without incident or mildly dazed (with an average weight that surpasses that of a bowling ball, it should go without saying that attempting to emulate this gag in real life is beyond foolish).

[-Written by {{@/Tracer Bullet}}.-]
[-Revised November 2011-]