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Wild Anklebiters (hereafter referred to as just Anklebiters) are odd creatures. They drain blood like lampreys or leeches, they tunnel through the ground like earthworms, and their physiology is a mix of Annelida and Tulipa. (They have a head like a flower, two sepals, a stem-like body, and a taproot-like tail for absorbing nutrients and staying in the ground when someone tries to pick them.)

Their "petals" are really flat tentacles, conjoined at the base of the head, and surprisingly strong; not only do children trying to remove their petals inevitably foiled by the sheer strength of their connection to the head, but scenes of tug-of-war resulting when a child tries to retrieve their ball from the jaws of an Anklebiter are not uncommon sights in the country.

As further evidence of their strength, when curled together and stiffened, Wild Anklebiters can drill through the earth using their petals. Stones foil Anklebiters, however, they can drill through wood and bone with said petals. Similarly, trying to pull a Wild Anklebiter from its home in the terra firma is a fruitless endeavor. (So is crushing, slicing, and burning; just like dandelions, Wild Anklebiters come back if their roots aren't destroyed or removed.)

Now, I'm sure you're wondering, what exactly does a Wild Anklebiter do? Anklebiters gain nutrients in three ways:

1. Plant-style: Their taproot tails absorb nutrients like regular roots, and their bodies (especially sepals and petals) are capable of photosynthesis.

2. Blood-sucking: The retractable teeth in their petals allow them to pierce tough hide (like rhino hide) and suck blood from various animals. Their pollen causes fatigue and vertigo, which usually causes animals to collapse, lie down, and/or fall asleep in their vicinity. Like IRL hematophages (blood feeders), Wild Anklebiters do not drain enough blood to kill or even necessarily harm their "hosts."

Sometimes, if an Anklebiter encounters a large creature (about human size or above), with an open wound, they will take root in the wound and seal it up. The Anklebiter will then exchange nutrients and energy with its host, as well as make it immune to Anklebiter pollen.

3. Floral Trickery: Anklebiters use their sweet-tasting (and sweet-smelling), sticky saliva to attract both pollinators and insect prey. The Sages are unsure how they tell them apart, but they do; they never eat pollinators but always eat just about anything else that is lured in by their trap. There is a common species of flower, Flora Fantasia, which looks eerily like the kind of flowers children draw, that Anklebiters mimic so precisely as to fool even humans who are not expert florists.

However, there is one foolproof way to tell; if a small animal (like a rat or squirrel, perhaps even a housecat, though that's a lot more difficult for them) comes within range, an Anklebiter will generally attack and devour it.

Other Relevant Information:

Due to their relatively fragile physiology (flowers and worms are many things, but they aren't known for their toughness), Anklebiters can be crushed, sliced, or burned with relative ease (relative compared to Snappers, Chompers, and Plop, which are much more durable). However, Anklebiters are also strong enough to play tug-of-war with a child trying to retrieve their ball from their jaws, and to grab and devour small animals (even house cats!), which entails a certain amount of durability.

Anklebiters are also pretty fast; they can tunnel through soil fast enough to catch up to (and keep up) with a walking human, and they are twice as fast-moving aboveground. However, when boring through wood or bone, they move at 1/4 of their regular tunneling speed. Their venom also can prevent or cause clotting, to aid in their bloodsucking. (They use the first so they can keep drinking blood, then when they're done they use the second.)

Their regenerative abilities and reproduction mirror that of a dandelion; if their roots aren't removed, destroyed, or poisoned, they'll grow back. They reproduce using pollen and after being pollinated spout tiny, fuzzy eggs (spores) that float on the wind, which serve as their seeds.

Finally, there is the Anklebiter Enchantment; Vivification. This enchantment turns inanimate objects that kill it into living, somewhat animate objects. For example, a Vivified sword on the ground can glide away from someone trying to grab it, even leap into someone’s hands (though this exhausts them, similar to how running a mile uphill would exhaust you) and a Vivified sword can swing and thrust itself.

Movement in general (gliding, swinging, thrusting and whatnot) costs the same energy-wise as it does for us to walk, run, or jump, a Vivified object has 2,000 calories to work with each day, and it can recharge each night. So, what happens if a living creature gains Vivification? If a creature is weak, sickly, or in poor health, Vivification restores it to prime health.

However, if a healthy creature gains Vivification, that’s extra life energy. This means that the creature’s muscle mass, size, and performance (vitality, hardiness, bodily power, endurance, healing factor, physical capability in general) would increase like it was on steroids, but without increasing its energy consumption or decreasing its reproductive capability. But that’s impossible-and overpowered! No it’s not, because the increase is 10% of the creature’s maximum values for muscle mass, strength, endurance, vitality, and so forth and with that comes an increased risk of cancer for all organs, for each Anklebiter a creature consumes.

In other words, you have to kill or eat a lot of Anklebiters to be truly benefited by Vivification, but once you’re eaten or killed 5 Anklebiters, you are have a minimum 50% chance of getting cancer. Any more than that, and you’re just playing with fire.

Now, my question is: What Would Be The Best Predator For A Wild Anklebiter?

Specifications For Best Answer:

  1. The best answer will take an Anklebiter’s strengths, weaknesses, and abilities into account and determine what traits their ideal (read: best) predator would need in order to succeed, with or without magic. If the Enchantment is a deal-breaker, the best answer must state that and ideally state why, unless it’s obvious (read: I already stated why in the OP).

  2. The best answer will also take the info in #1 and determine which IRL animals and monsters would fit the bill. Any of the monsters I made that grow by consuming matter (Plops, Chompers, Droppers, and Snappers) should be able to consume Anklebiters without raising their risk of cancer since they naturally harness magical energies in the matter or creatures they consume for growth.

This protection, however, will end immediately upon one of these monsters evolving, since at that point they won’t be harnessing magic for growth but rather for maintaining what they’ve developed. At that point, they are at Square 1 when it comes to cancer risk.

Please Note: I recently came up with an explanation for creatures like the Chimera that could potentially help those seeking to answer this question. You see, monsters are animals mutated by Chaos Energy (Wild Anklebiters are monsters, which is why they're so weird) and in 1% of monsters, Chaos Energy causes tumorous growths that develop into things like supernaturally tough hide (or supernaturally strong muscles), extra heads, even parts of other animals! (As a frame of reference, consider dragons; they are the result of extensive Chaos-induced mutations).

In other words, in 1% of any population that preys on Wild Anklebiters, there will be individuals that mutate instead of gaining cancer, potentially becoming grotesque monstrosities that look like they've become acquainted with both steroids and Hollywood radiation. If you've read the Spirit Animal series by Scholastic (and I'm not sure anyone reading this will have), the Bile's effect on animals is a great example.

This also means that if a creature is going to gain a tumor from Vivification, having raised its chances of cancer too much, there is a 1% chance of it gaining a supernatural trait (like supernatural strength or durability, with the most likely outcome being its strongest trait, like fortitude for badgers), an extra body part (head, limb, tail, claw, etc.), or foreign physiology (part of another animal, like a goat head or snake tail, AKA half a snake).

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    $\begingroup$ Conflicting statement: they aren't known for their toughness + Their "petals" are really flat tentacles, conjoined at the base of the head, and surprisingly strong $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 17 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica: good point, thank you! I meant that they were strong in some ways and weak in others (strong against pulling, weak against crushing and slicing), and more particularly that they can be damaged relatively easy than Plops and Snappers. I edited for clarity. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 17 at 21:25
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I don't know if I have the full solution for you. But a couple of points stand out from your description:

  1. There are tremendous numbers of these Anklebiter creatures/plants, if they reproduce like dandelions.
  2. No single predator could practically eliminate too many of these creatures, since they would be too likely to get cancer and die before long.

Based on these two points, it seems like you would need a small type of predator which can reproduce in vast numbers. Perhaps an insect, or lizard, or maybe even small rodents like mice or rabbits. These sorts of small creatures can reproduce rapidly enough to have a constant population of predators, even as they die from cancer. In fact, perhaps the vivification spell could help them reproduce even faster, so they are likely to have many offspring (benefits of eating the first few Anklebiters) before dying from cancer.

It is questionable if small creatures could possibly uproot an Anklebiter from the ground. Your best bet would be either a creature which could inject a poison into the anklebiter, thus killing it; or else an insect-type creature which could suck out all the fluid from the anklebiter, leaving it a dead husk.

Perhaps you could have a creature similar to a spider wasp, paralyzing and laying eggs in your Anklebiter. Then the baby wasps would all gain a bit of the vivification when they hatch. This could also set up a great dynamic for you, since the anklebiter and the wasp would both prey on each other.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting....thank you, very insightful answer! Spider wasps would be an interesting addition, as would small, fast-reproducing predators, though I think I already have the latter in Plops and Chompers. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 17 at 23:06
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What about moles/voles, they eat from the roots of plants underground and from what I am reading the Anklebiter not only uses photosynthesis but also sucks blood? But in order for all that nutrition to go somewhere - the foliage or the roots - they roots of the Anklebiter would be very, very tempting. I also would think that ants would be a good idea? Maybe like the leaf cutter ants of the Amazon that specifically go for the leaves/flowers/tentacles and since they always grow back the ants would be able to build a very big hive and since they farm with those leaves/flowers/tentacles in the nest they might be immune to the pollen...

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  • $\begingroup$ Good ideas, thank you for your new perspective! Yes, Anklebiters should be vulnerable to root eaters and ants. The Enchantment would still affect your potential predators, but only to a slight degree, allowing them to evolve to take advantage of Vivification. Giant ants, here we come.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 19 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Myrmidons. $\endgroup$ Jun 4 at 11:37
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Humans

The plants might seem pretty strong, but they have some pretty big weaknesses.

Set fire to them or slice them. Done.... nearly.

The plants grow back! What is a human to do against this?

Put a rock over it. Or wood. Or throw poison like tar onto the remains. Or dig the root up and put it out of the ground somewhere. Just stop it from growing back, or continuously hamper it's growth back. Exhaustion will terminate the plant if nothing else does.

These plants have a lot at their disposal, but that is just with the flower/petal like things. Without it they are vulnerable and easily dispatched. The plants will eventually more likely run if humans are about or act as the plants they imitate as much as possible: stand perfectly still. Otherwise a quick boot, uproot and bonfire are it's destiny.

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  • $\begingroup$ This was helpful, but not exactly what I was looking for. These things exist in numbers akin to dandelions, so it seems a predator will form to keep them in check. Humans can't do everything or be everywhere, so I need something to do that naturally. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 17 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ Plus, even without the petals, Anklebiter pollen can most definitely take out someone trying to kill them. And from what I've seen, most people fail to remove dandelions because it's so hard to get rid of them.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 17 at 22:04

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