What do dragons eat
|This article describes the dragon's diet. If you are looking for food made from dragons, you can find it under Food made from dragons.|
This article covers the nutrition the Dragon. Since dragons are usually depicted as predators or monsters, they of course feed on most sources of meat, and cattle in particular are often prey to them. The great wyverns of India and Ethiopia even feed on elephants.
People are rarely on the menu. Even virgins are mostly just kept captive and guarded. Human heroes are usually only killed because they attack the dragons after they have eaten their cattle, or because they fight the dragons for treasure.
However, the diet of dragons is much more varied and has received some interesting facets in both mythology and fantasy.
Inorganic material Edit source]
Time and again, in popular culture, dragons are depicted that fed on inorganic material. In this way, some dragons partially feed on their hoard and thus also strengthen their armor. The dragon stone is also probably formed as a result of the minerals that are absorbed in this way.
Examples [edit | Edit source]
- In the Saas Valley in Switzerland it is said that the gold dragons there feed on the gold veins in the mountains. Various Swiss legends, e.g. about the dragon's cave on the Bristenstock, also tell that dragons taught people to lick gold from rock faces and thus survive without food. These people could then usually no longer endure human food.
- The lindworm in the Klachau in Styria is said to have devoured the mud of the lake and then a natural rock dam after there were no more animals and plants to eat.
- The swamp dragons of the Discworld eat almost anything, whether organic or inorganic material. Their extremely specialized stomachs can digest anything and turn it into fuel for dragon fire.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, dragons eat normal food as well as precious stones, which are like candy to them.
- The monsters Uragaan and Kushala Daora from Monster Hunter feed on ore, which is also responsible for their extremely hard armor.
- Hang-glider OTFs - Hisone and Masotan feed on rare metals that are used, for example, in the manufacture of cell phones. That is why they are often fed with old flip phones in the series.
Explanations [edit | Edit source]
Many animals swallow stones, so-called gastroliths, which help them digest plant food. For example, some herbivorous dinosaurs such as sauropods, ratites or hens cannot chew their food themselves, which is why they swallow stones. In the gizzard these stones then grind up the plant food by rubbing them together. However, since dragons are usually depicted as predators, this explanation only appears plausible in exceptional cases, since meat is much easier to digest.
Other animals, such as seals, crocodiles or plesiosaurs, could use the stones as ballast to ascend and descend in the water. However, this has not been clarified with certainty and would only make sense in the case of flightless water kites.
Another explanation for this could be the ability of many dragons to breathe fire. It is not entirely clear how dragons produce their fire, but some explanations include that platinum is used as a catalyst. Dragons can of course only ingest this platinum through food, and since it is not contained in any organic food, they would have to chew appropriate ore. Other theories about dragon fire also require the inclusion of inorganic materials, such as flints or piezoelectric crystalsto ignite gases or liquids, or normal stones to crush the limestone needed to spit fire.
The mythological dragons from Pilatusberg and other Swiss legends are said to lick gold or other mineral-containing liquids from stones. This behavior could be based on real animals licking salt from stones to balance their mineral balance, see Lickstone.
Some life forms, e.g. some arks, are actually able to feed on inorganic material. However, this is not possible in vertebrates such as dragons due to their metabolism. However, dragons may live in symbiosis with microorganisms that digest the inorganic material for them. The use of this is not clear, but there could also be a connection with the dragon fire.
In most cases, minerals and metals would naturally be very difficult to chew due to their hardness. It can therefore be assumed that dragons, if they really chew such substances, have very broad molar teeth, just like animals eat their armored prey, e.g. the Port Jackson bullhead shark or the sea otter. The teeth would also have to constantly grow back to counteract wear and tear.
Milk Edit source]
Main article: Dragon milk
In some legends, dragons feed on the milk of cows from whose udders they drink or tear it open. There are also sagas in which dragons are given milk by humans to keep them from hunting cattle and humans. Poisoned milk is sometimes used by dragon slayers, such as the Deerhurst Dragon.
There are also sometimes descriptions of dragons suckling their young themselves. Even apart from that, depictions of dragons with breasts are not uncommon, but this can also be meant purely symbolically.
Vegetable food Edit source]
Rather seldom do you come across dragons in Fantasticism that feed on plants. Examples of this would be the Diablos and the Duramboros from Monster Hunter and the Draco berengarius from Star Trek. The two examples from Monster Hunter are very specialized species (Diablos feeds on cacti and Duramboros on rotten wood) among the otherwise carnivorous wyverns, during the Draco berengarius is an alien species that only looks like dragons. One of the few works in which young dragons of all kinds feed on plants is the browser game Dragosien.
The early scientist Edward Topsell reported that dragons like to eat lettuce, because it lets them throw up to get bad food out of the body (probably similar to cat grass), but hate apples because they are bad for their stomachs. They also like to eat herbs and love fennel as it restores their eyesight when it gets worse with age.
That being said, herbivorous dragons are rare in mythology, folklore, and early science. One of the few examples is the house dragon Plón from Sorbian mythology, which can be fed with millet gruel and biscuits. The Meerenschwanden worm was also known to uproot crops. It is not known whether he also ate them. Another example is the omnivorous lindworm in the Klachau, which was already mentioned in the section "Inorganic material".
Insect eater [edit | Edit source]
Many scaled reptiles, some of which, such as the bearded dragon (genus: Pogona, engl. Bearded Dragon) or the common kite (Draco volans), called dragons in some languages, feed on insects due to their size, which means that there are very many insect-eating dragons in reality.
In fantasy, too, there are sometimes small, insect-eating dragons, but these are rather rare. Several species can be found in Dragons of the World, most notably the one that specializes in termites Corytholurus to mention. Exceptions are the Yian Kut-Ku and the Barroth from Monster Hunter, which are taller than humans. However, their prey is also larger than most real insects today.
Eggs [edit | Edit source]
According to Edward Topsell, dragons like to eat eggs because they are the quickest to fill up. Adults swallow the eggs in one piece and later choke the shell back up, while young animals smash the eggs before eating.
Killing dragons through improper nutrition Edit source]
In many of the sagas and stories about dragons, dragons are killed by being fed something they cannot tolerate. For example, in the Bible story Bel and the Dragon, the eponymous dragon is killed by Daniel feeding him a lump of pitch, fat and hair, which causes him to suffocate.
The dragon from Brno and two of the dragons killed in the Shāhnāme (see Rostam and Alexander the Great), on the other hand, were killed with packets made of ox skin filled with quicklime, as the quicklime spread in the animal's belly until it burst. St. Mang, on the other hand, just threw bad luck into his dragon's mouth and asked God for help, whereupon the dragon went up in flames. In a Turkish variant of the dragon from Rhodes there are even forty donkeys filled with quicklime.
An interesting variation happened with the Filey Dragon in England, whose mouth was sealed with Parkin (a sticky cake specialty from Yorkshire). Depending on the variant of the legend, the dragon's helplessness triggered in this way was used by a dragon slayer or the dragon itself fell into the sea in a panic and drowned.
The giant Grimm from South Tyrol killed his kite himself, but he managed to do so because he had previously made him sluggish by feeding him a lump of pitch and sawdust.
In the Swiss canton of St. Gallen there is the legend of the dragon at the Hirschensprung. A ploughshare, which had been made to glow, was thrown into his throat, which burned him from the inside.
In some legends, the Ethiopian dragon slayer Angabo is said to have killed the dragon Arwe by giving him the juice of milkweed to drink.
Historians see parallels in such legends with Marduk's fight against Tiamat, who defeated her by blowing winds into her throat.
Trivia [edit | Edit source]
- Colloquially, food that is intended to appease an angry person, usually a spouse, is called kite food.
- While humans are in reality the only animals who use fire to cook their food, this behavior is also attributed to dragons in some works, e.g. Dragonology or Munchkin.
Sources [edit | Edit source]
- ↑ Wikipedia: Gastrolith
- ↑ Dragon's World - A Fantasy made real, 2004, documentary fiction
- ↑ Dr. Ernest Drake: Expeditions into the secret world of dragons, 2003, ISBN-10: 376074818X, ISBN-13: 978-3760748184
- ↑ TREY the Explainer: Science of Dragons (English)
- ↑ Peter Dickinson (1981), The great book of dragons. The flying monsters, Stalling Verlag, ISBN 978-3797916976
- ↑ Holy sources: The Pilatussee
- ↑ Wikipedia: Autotrophy
- ↑ strawberryoverlord asked: what kind of teeth do you think a creature would need to be able to eat Crystals and gemstones like the dragons in mlp?
- ↑ Wikipedia: Sárkány (English)
- ^ Albert Doja (2005), Mythology and Destiny, Anthropos
- ↑ Andrew Lawless (interview with Dr. Samantha Riches), Three Monkeys Online: Gendered Monsters - Art and politics in the representation of St. George and the Dragon
- ↑ 12,012,1Edward Topsell (1607), History of four-footed beasts and serpents, P. 706
- ↑ Biblical Studies: Bel and Dragon
- ↑ Wiktionary: Dragon food
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