Originating in Persia, the manticore is a cat-like creature known for imitating humans and luring them into the wilderness to be killed and eaten.
The manticore is a kind of boogeyman or legend used to keep people, especially children, from wandering deep into the woods and jungles. They are known to entirely consume the bodies of their prey, so their victims are never found.
Traits and Behavior
Manticores are felines, similar in size to a jaguar or leopard, and some species have spots and markings that can be mistaken for these other big cat species. Their coloration varies depending on the region they live in, most often in shades of brown and grey for camouflage.
Their face highly resembles the face of a human, an older man with a long beard that is in fact the manticore’s fur and small mane. They have humanoid eyes, with rounded pupils instead of a slit one, and the colors are usually brown. Most have heavily furred eyebrows that further give the appearance of a human face, not a feline.
The manticore’s tail is a unique physical feature, as it is sparsely furred, mixed with long spines that can be shot out or used to stab others. The spines are poisonous; one spine is enough to take down a fully grown human or similarly sized animal. The poison isn’t lethal at that volume, as the manticore prefers live prey, but it will cause complete paralysis that can last for hours. The spines lay flat and aren’t always visible unless the manticore has their tail flared; this has resulted in manticores being mistaken for jaguars or other cats until their face is shown.
The fur and spines of a manticore are incredibly valuable items sought by poachers and collectors, and are believed to give strength and immunity if worn. The fur is known to be surprisingly rough even without the spines.
Manticores can make a low calling sound that resembles the sound of a clarinet or bassoon, and has often tricked people into thinking there was a settlement or other people in the area and follow the sound deeper into the woods. The sound has been described as mournful and alluring, compared to the call of a siren. While animals are usually scared away by the noise, humans report an inescapable desire to find the source of the noise, and even a great longing to seek out the sound. The manticore has also been mistaken for a person from a distance, their face peering out of trees or the underbrush. A few humans said the face specifically resembled someone they knew, though this is not always mentioned.
Once the manticore has either ambushed or lured their prey out, they typically use their spines to immobilize them, then eat their prey live. Their jaws are capable of dislocating and can often eat the entire body in a single sitting, before hibernating for weeks at a time to allow for digestion. Because of their size, they only occasionally seek out humans as prey, but they are opportunistic if the chance arises.
Manticores are largely solitary, living alone in dens made in fallen trees or caves, and may go months without seeing another member of their species. In the spring, a male manticore will travel to find a female, and if they mate will remain throughout the pregnancy and early infancy of the kits before returning to his own territory. Manticores are not necessarily monogamous, but compatible couples will more often than not go back to each other every mating season.
Manticore kits are born without their poisonous spines, in groups of four to five on average. The spines will begin to grow in at around 6 months, when they also begin to learn to hunt. They are raised by their mother for their first year, then will slowly move out as their hunting skill improves. Females may stay longer than males with the mother manticore, but only by a few months.
Manticores are carnivores, hunting animals like deer and birds. Besides their poisonous spines, they have a secondary set of teeth to hold potentially struggling prey until the poison takes hold. They eat all parts of their prey, including the bones and fur, leaving no sign of their existence. This is part of the reason they are blamed for the deaths of so many people, as anyone missing in a manticore territory. They usually sleep for days after eating, going down to rest in their hidden dens.
A manticore can feasibly live for 50 years, if they survive their first three years away from their mother. Young manticores are the primary targets of poachers seeking their fur and spines. Older manticores are deemed harder to hunt, primarily because they sleep longer between kills and are therefore harder to find.
The poison from a manticore takes effect within a few minutes of being struck, and lasts for several hours depending on volume injected and body weight. If you are hit, the manticore is likely to kill you while you are unconscious. The best bet is to wear clothing intended to keep the spines from being able to reach your skin, if you will likely be interacting with them.
The manticore’s other danger is the call that so inexplicably lures people in. It isn’t intended to be a lure for people, it in fact is a sound that is meant to call to other manticores, but the effect it has on people is clear and dangerous. How strongly it effects a person seems to vary, but there is no safe way to know how strong your resistance is. The safest way of handling the situation is to always go into the woods in a group, and to constantly check with each other. The effect is not lessened this way, but a manticore is more likely to retreat if a group comes thundering through the underbrush towards it.