Viperwolves are medium-sized pack-hunting carnivores native to the Federation jungle world Pandora, being since introduced to many other planets throughout the Imperium and the Federation. They are known to be tenacious and highly intelligent hunters, and are also reputed to be very caring and protective of their young.
The viperwolf is vaguely equivalent to Terran canids in it's appearance, habits and ecological role. Standing roughly 1.2 meters high at the shoulder, the size of a large dog, the viperwolf even visually resembles a Doberman somewhat. Travelling in packs 12-36 strong and made up of breeding pairs and young adult creatures, viperwolves prowl the forest floor, their smaller size and powerful claws also letting them scale the lower trees.
Like most Pandoran fauna, viperwolves are hexapedal, a response to the low gravity and high atmosphere density of their homeworld, and also share the same complex respiratory system as most other Pandoran beasts. Unlike pantheraptors which exhibit a tremendous size variety depending on what world they are settled, viperwolves do not demonstrate much size differences, being less dependent on gravity and oxygen concentration than pantheraptors.
Viperwolves are chase predators, pursuing, surrounding and exhausting their prey before moving in for the kill. Their lean, muscular bodies allow for extended pursuits and good agility. Viperwolves will also readily scavenge opportunistically from the kills of larger beasts, such as pantheraptors.
The creatures are clad in a thick black leathery hairless skin, similar to many other creatures of the forest floor. This tough hide protects them against thorns, poisonous saps and other plant-based hazards as well against predators and parasites. The viperwolves have two sensory stalks growing from their head, serving a similar function to the pantheraptor's, but not making for nearly quite as spectacular a threat display, it not being possible for the viperwolves to flare them up.
Despite their territorial and vicious nature, viperwolves are famous for being very loving parents, lavishing their pups with care and attention. Viperwolf breeding season goes on through the entire year, different pairs mating and birthing their litters at different times. During this time, the pair splits off from the rest of the pack and establishes their own den not far from the pack territory - usually well within earshot, other pack members still coming to their aid if warned about imminent danger. There are 2-6 pups in a litter. The pair returns to the greater pack once it's young are old enough to hunt their own foond.
Much like dogs, viperwolves also largely rely on their sense of smell to track their prey. However, they also have sensitive hearing and excellent night vision, as is attested by their green bioluminiscent eyes.