When I started writing this article I had no idea what to title it. The animals I want to cover are not domesticated, wild, or feral, but the word I found seems to fit: Synanthropic. Synanthropic animals are those that are ecologically associated with humans, such as house flies. Outside of science labs or the like, we don’t typically breed flies to annoy us indoors, but it’s hard to imagine your living room during the summer without them. Some of these animals are put to use by people, but not as livestock, pets, or beasts of burden.
Honestly it just sounds better than ‘miscellaneous.’
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The Mythical Salamander
Saying that the forge is important to a blacksmith is an understatement, and normally it is the job of the apprentice to keep it lit and at the proper temperature. Apprentices can be better used elsewhere, though, and aren’t always available, which is why the savvy smith keeps a box of salamanders on hand to keep the flames going.
These salamanders rely on a source of heat to stay alive, as well as to breed. They emit a constant amount of heat that can be regulated by what you feed them, which typically consists of coals, oil, and other flammable bits and pieces. Breeding takes place in the water trough and their eggs and young can be seen often in a smithy.
Alongside the water trough of a smithy you may find another animal, or animals, living happily in its own little world. A long water tank holding hundreds of tiny worms is the savvy blacksmith’s answer to the polishing wheel. Objects in need of buffing are placed into the tank to be scraped clean by Polisher Worms, who use the powerful acid created by their flesh to eat organic particles on the objects intended for cleaning.
The worms are enticed into their work with a generous application of pig grease. Don’t think that blacksmith’s have a monopoly on the creatures, though. They’re used by artisans the world over in their work. They don’t come without danger, however, as their baths can be highly acidic, and the worms don’t distinguish between meals.
The Farmer’s Beetle
Shit. It happens. To farmers everywhere, however, it’s gold, or at least a stepping stone to it. Without a lot of workers or large scale machinery it can be difficult to distribute manure in an efficient manner, but with The Farmer’s Beetle it’s as easy as pie.
A few dozen of these bad boys is enough to spread and mix a field’s worth of manure in a few days. The dung is mixed into the soil by the beetles and improved soil quality considerably. It’s not known when the beetles were first imported from more exotic lands, but they’ve been in use for generations.