In November 2010 I had started a topic in the FFG DarkHeresy (1st Edition) forum to create some critter for the world of Dusk in the Calixis sector. One of the creatures that were purely of my own design was a simple little beast I called a „Houndrat“.
The simple name sums the creature up quiet well, as it looks very much like a mixture of hound and a rat, with the size, the body, the snot and the teeth all very close to that of an American Bull Terrier, with the average specimen being 17 inch (43 cm) tall and weighing about 40 lbs (18 kg). The creature is not having a visible neck but the otherwise rat-like, triangular shaped head seamlessly joins with the broad body of the beast. The legs are short but powerful and a houndrat is a quick runner, so it lacks the endurance for more than a short sprint (half the creatures speed after about half a minute till it was able to rest for 10 minutes). It sports the naked tail one would expect from a rat, but much shorter and thicker.
Houndrats are always encountered in groups of 3 to 12 individual animals but larger “family packs” of up to 25 of them are not unheard of if a region is rich in prey animals. While they have a rather powerful build and bite they are mostly carrion eaters that chase larger creatures away from their prey or devour what scraps are left. With their keen noses they can smell blood from a distance if the wind is right and are able to sniff out a carcass from up to a mile away. Hunters who dress animals in the field can be up for a bad surprise if a pack of Houndrats invites themselves for dinner. Otherwise, they are known to attack nesting or breeding animals, entering the burrows of other creatures and steal the eggs from nests of ground breeding creatures. They are not able to give chase to herds, so.
While not strictly nocturnal, they make for good hunters at dusk and dawn and are not impaired by darkness but active during about any time of the day, with a sleep period of about 3 hours being followed by 3 hours of activity. In game worlds that include large underground complexes (caves, labyrinths, bunker complexes, lower levels of mega-cities) individual groups of Houndrats might adopt to a subterraneous lifestyle.
While they are vicious and aggressive creatures Houndrats never fight for long against opponents that proof to be a serious thread. As soon as ¼ of their number is seriously wounded and/or killed the pack is likely to flee. Due to their diet the bite of Houndrat is highly infectious, so, and most predators do not tend to fight a pack of those beasts over a kill unless very hungry themselves. In addition, Houndrats are known to attack their prey once to wound it and then follow it for a day or two to attack again when the infection has set in and weakens the prey further.
Next time: stats =)