Pronounced as "chow". These strange creatures are natives to Gaia, considered in many cultures to be water spirits due to their general affinity/preference for watery habitats. They have a jiggly marshmallow-like texture and are generally cool to the touch. As a survival trait chao have developed the ability to literally manipulate their genetic makeup, able to adapt features from non-morphic animals they come into contact with for the purpose of developing new skills and protection, making them extremely adaptable and able to survive in a variety of environments.

Chao have a very advanced form of vocal communication, creating a series of baby-like coos and cries. They're extremely intelligent and have one of the most advanced forms of communication in the non-morphic animal kingdom and are even able to mimic the sounds of other animals. Owners often teach their domestic chao how to parrot a few small simple words, though in some extremely rare cases chao have been known to perfectly emulate human speech to the extent they can hold conversations. Another way chao can communicate is through the use of their 'emoteball'; A small ball that floats above their heads by no apparent means. These are used primarily for long distance communication, signaling danger, where food may be located, etc. Depending on how the chao has adapted to it's environment these emoteballs might come in the form of spiked balls, halos, or even small harmless flames meant to serve as a warning to predators.

Known Chao

Each chao has it's own distinct personality. They're generally extremely social and affectionate animals and normally group into clusters of roughly eight individuals. Wild clusters are generally aloof and hard to find, however, due to their sociability they're extremely easy to tame and domesticated chao are considered to be the perfect pet. Owners typically encourage their chao to adapt traits from other animals to 'personalize' their pets. In some cases the chao may even develop traits from its owner as a sign of affection.

Chao come in a very large variety of colors. Due to most often being found in watery environments their most common color is blue, however chao are known to change color as they grow and adapt. Chao from outside water or forest habitats are slightly less common, and such chao usually come in other varieties of colors (artic chao, for example, are typically hatched as white). Though a very rare genetic defect, some are known to have a metallic or glittery hide. These chao rarely survive their first infancy in the wild, and because of their rarity are highly sought in domestic chao. Unusual markings have also been known to occur as a result of domesticated breeding and are also considered desirable.

Chao are hatched from eggs. As infants they're completely helpless and depend on their parents or owners to raise and teach them. As they grow they learn their basic skills such as walking and swimming. Chao have a metamorphic life cycle. Upon reaching adulthood they spin cocoons around themselves and soon emerge from. Chao have extremely short lifespans, however they've developed a unique way of compensating for this. When a chao 'dies' of old age, if it had received enough care and nourishment it can spin a second cocoon around itself. While there's as of yet no explanation for now (probably in connection to their ability to manipulate their own genetics), inside the chao metamorphoses back into it's egg stage where it's able to 'recharge' itself and emerge again as an infant, being raised by its fellow cluster members until it's competent on its own again, and its lifespan will begin anew. In this way chao are effectively immortal, as there seems to be no limit on the number of times they can 'recharge'. However, if treated poorly or conditions in the wild don't meet the requirements it will be unable to form a new egg and truly die.

Interestingly chao are hermaphroditic, meaning that they have the sexual organs of both a male and female, though owners typically assign one specific gender to call them by. When a chao goes into heat it secrets a substance into the surrounding soil. This substance is a highly potent type of fertilizer that stimulates flowers to grow and bloom around it at a rapid pace as a sign to attract potential mates. When a mate is attracted they preform a mating ritual dance, and as soon as mating is complete the chao in heat lays an already fully formed egg. While eggs will eventually hatch on their own they can be stimulated by rocking or, strangely enough, throwing them. Oddly, domestic chao seem to have lost their parental instincts entirely and abandon their eggs as soon as they're laid, leaving them for the owner to take care of.

Chao are herbivores, living on a diet of fruit and nuts. Their most common source of food are coconuts which they're able to eat whole using their extremely powerful jaws. However, when the resource is available they readily accept other fruits such as cherries, grapes, and are sometimes even known to eat mushrooms.

As stated before, chao are extremely intelligent. Many owners will teach their chao cute little tricks and there are many training schools dedicated to this purpose. Special 'Chao Gardens' also exist as playgrounds as well as safe places for those owners who may not be allowed to keep their pets at home or travel too much to tote them. Here domestic chao are able to play and socialize with each other in small miniature man-made habitats. Many chao enthusiasts will also often train their chao and have them compete in sporting events such as races or karate tournaments. It has also recently been discovered that by using Chaos Drives they can artificially mimic the chao's natural ability to adapt for its necessary challenges without causing the physical mutations caused by animals.

Their Terra equivalents are the Sola.

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