Shrumffler

From 2speccers2tools wiki

As time progressed, some Clongus began to turn their attention towards things growing on the ground and started to use their ability to manipulate mud in a very unique way. This would give rise to the bizarre Shrumffler, which has adapted to cultivate its own sources of food.

Much like their ancestor, the Shrumffler has its noodly snoot being ossified to make it relatively rigid, though the flexible lips are able to close and thus allow it to manipulate small bits of food or to help build up the mud it gathers. A large gular pouch has developed on the underside of the snout that can help the Shrumffler take in larger amounts of mud which it still sucks up. After sucking in all the mud, it's sent into their specialized gut diverticuli but is still kept wet. The reason why is because the Shrumffler uses the mud it collects to build large dens unique to this one species. The atavistically developed forelimbs that had been lost for a long period of time help the Shrumffler with digging a shallow pit and shaping the mud to form walls and a ceiling before it hardens. The 8 keratin plates on the top of the Shrumffler’s snoot is also used to shape the mud to their own needs, such as the otherwise hard-to-reach ceiling.

Once it has the den constructed, the Shrumffler then leaves the den to seek out things like shed nomflora leaves and collects them to then bring to its den. Putting these leaves along with other bits of flora they collect in a special chamber at the very back, the Shrumffler also uses the chamber to excrete waste. This promotes the growth of its sole food source, the Bigger Mushroom Bitches, which the Shrumffler then tends to with great care. The creature will remove any other decomposers trying to grow in the chamber such as species of the Mushrooms Which Must Logically Exist to Maintain a Biosphere genus group since they would compete with the Bigger Mushroom Bitches for space and resources. It will also fend off things trying to feed upon its crop, such as an "insect", snuffler, or Radfting mamal with great ferocity. Its ears can pick up the sounds of something moving around in their den or nearby and thus allow them to respond quickly. While the Shrumffler primarily uses wet mud to construct and maintain their dens, it can still drain the mud of water and then compress them into a hard pellet when they then suck in air and launch it at intruders, with a well-placed being able to cripple or even kill these pests. If the critter is killed, the Shrumffler will simply place it in the larder to provide more food for its crop to grow. When the crop of Bigger Mushroom Bitches becomes big and abundant enough, the Shrumffler will use their lips to rip off small pieces to then be swallowed though they only take small bits at a time so they do not eat all of their crop. Since their food is small and soft enough to be swallowed by the small mouth with little effort, the Shrumffler has lost the external digestive patch of their ancestors since it was not necessary.

With their large forelimbs, the Shrumffler no longer needs to inch its way forward like a snail and instead slithers like a serpent which uses the forelimbs to aid in said locomotion. The Shrumffler also has small amounts of atavistic fur on their head, neck, and back which provides some minor insulation when they rarely forage outside for Bigger Mushroom Bitches but it's not abundant enough to make much of a difference.

Like the unrelated Nostalgithyons of Dingus, the Shrumffler retains their singular egg within their own body until it hatches internally. After this, the female will give birth to a single youngster that then stays with her for one year, with the adult Shrumffler sharing their crop with their child and teaching them the necessary skill for them to survive once they eventually leave the den to start their own lives.

Close-up of a Shrumffler head with a full pouch.
A Shrumffler den, with a larder full of its Bigger Mushroom Bitches crop.