The Hadracus is easily distinguished from all other snakes on Vitam due to it's immense size and it's red crest.
Hadracus vary greatly in size depending on their age, as they never stop growing. New born Hadracus grow at an astonishing rate (around 2 metres in the first week) until they reach about 2 months of age. After this their growth slows down. Once a individual reaches the age of about 150 they only grow about a metre a decade.
|1 week||1 metre||Booas||Hatchling|
|2 weeks||3 metres|
|4 weeks||6 metres|
|6 weeks||8 metres|
|2 months||10 metres||Juvenile|
|3 months||11 metres|
|4 months||12 metres|
|8 months||14 metres||Adult|
|1 year||15 metres|
|2 years||16 metres|
|4 years||18 metres|
|8 years||20 metres|
|50 years||40 metres|
|100 years||50 metres|
|200 years||60 metres||Mattacus||Wise Venom|
The maximum age of a Hadracus is unknown, most live to about 200 years before being killed by other Hadracus. This happens when one challenges another for territory. The oldest living Hadracus is Praesius. This mighty serpent is almost 2000 years old, and due to it's age is also the largest recorded specimen.
The Hadracus is a incredibly well adapted creature. Not only can it kill prey by constriction, it is also able to inject large amounts of potent venom. This venom is extremely deadly and in tests, some samples have been shown to overide a Space Marine's Preomnor. The blood of the Hadracus is also toxic. It's blood is not as deadly as the creature's main venom but still enough to stun even large animals.
The scales of the Hadracus are extremely tough and can withstand glancing shots from most fire arms. These scales do not reach this toughness until the indivudual has been alive for about a year. When Hadrachus shed their skin it does so in layers, this means that a shedded Hadrachs scale is far weaker than a full skin.
Hadracus are intelligent animals, matching and in many cases beating the intelligence levels of earth dolphins. The creatures have been seen to adapt their behavior and solve problems.
Hadracus are extremely territorial and each individual dominates an area of several hundred km².
Once an individual has established it's territory it goes about creating tracks by wearing down the vegetation. These earth tracks allow the serpent to move around it's area silently. The jungle environment means that these tracks need to be constantly maintained, and as a result Hadracus spend almost all of their waking hours on the move.
When they do require sleep a Hadracus will navigate to one of it's nests. These nests are made from the carcasses of other Hadracus that have lost territory battles. These nesting behaviors have yet to be explained.
Hadracus will not attack animals unless they are considered a threat or a worthwhile meal.
Hadracus are only fertile once a year for about 6 days. This usually happens during the coldest part of the year. Males have to seek out the females and infringe on their territory. More than half of the time this breach is taken by the females as a threat and fighting breaks out before the mating rituals can even begin.
Those that don't misinterpret the advance still have to go though a lengthy ritual before conceiving. Very few have seen these rituals, and those that have have only ever seen parts.
From various accounts we know that the crest feature heavily in the ritual, swelling and fanning even larger than has been seen in territory displays. One account explained how the two locked jaws and appeared to poisen one another. This part of the ritual helps to eliminate individuals with weak immune systems and preserve the species gene-pool.
If the rituals are completed then the pair will conceive. The male then immediately returns to his own territoy before relations turn sour.
The females 30-40 eggs are distributed evenly between her nests. This means that if a predator finds a nest of eggs, the whole batch isn't compromised. A disadvantage is that by spreading her offspring, the female can not be present to defend each one all the time.
Once hatched the young immediately scatter and leave their nest, to avoid confrontation with their brothers and sisters.
The mother does not track down or care for her young. If she encounters one of the offspring within 2 months of it hatching she will ignore it. After this age however they will be forced to leave the area or face their mother.
The Hadracus is an extremely rare creature and is population has always been low. Scientists have many theories on this.
The primary reason that Hadracus are so few is that each Hadracus controls a territory of several hundred miles. Hadracus are very protective over their land and will not share it. This means that the population is limited simply by the space on the planet.
Another reason is the efforts involved in mating. Hadracus are only fertile once a year, and even then it's not a sure thing. As mentioned previously many mating attempts end in the death of one party.
A final reason is simply the raw aggression of the creature. Hadracus are unforgiving when it comes to their own kind, and regularly go out of their way to kill their neighbours.
The Hadracus is an icon and has understandably been a key aspect of the mythology and history of it's planet.
Ever since human's first colonized the planet, the Hadracus has been considered a sacred creature. It has been revered for it's elegance and power. Before the Imperium recolonized the planet during the great crusade Hadracus were worshiped as gods. The Imperium stamped out this belief system but many of the inhabitants still consider it to be a mystical animal.
Use of scales and venom
Although the scales, venom and fangs of a Hadracus are extremely desirable, inhabitants of Vitam do not hunt or attack them. Not only is this extremely dangerous but also considered a punishable offence. Collecting these artifacts is instead achieved by looting the carcass of a Hadracus that has died naturally (this almost always means killed by another Hadracus). This is by no means easy however, as once killed, the corpse becomes a nest of the killer.
Although there are hundreds of tribes and small research facilities scattered across the planet, there is only one city. Nidum is the capital of the planet, and home to the Crested Serpents Fortress Monastery. The Hadracus is a key part of the cities culture. Nidum and the land around it is patrolled by the oldest known Hadracus on the planet, Praesius. The huge serpent has been alive for almost 2000 years and had reached an incredible size, even for a Hadracus. The people of the city consider Praesius to be their guardian.
The ecology on Vitam has been studied and documented by numerous individuals. The Hadracus in particular has fascinated many scientists. Geminar Amarey is an Imperial Documentarist who has written numerous books on the Hadrachus.
With each creature dominating several hundred kilometres of land, local tribes and communities quickly come up with names for their local serpent. Some Hadracus become known beyond their borders.
- The largest and oldest known Hadracus, Praesius patrols the land above the underground city of Nidum.
- A mythical Hadracus that has never been recorded but many have claimed to see it. It supposedly lives in the frozen wasteland at the planet's south pole. Some have described it as larger than Praesius, with a white body and ice blue crest.
- Chum was the name given to a Hadracus whose early life was recorded in a research facilty after it's egg was poached from a nest in 576:M37. After reaching maturity Chum was released back into the wild for further observation but was killed within hours by a far larger Hadracus.