Werewolf Guide - Other Species Picture

“The nature of humanity determines what species of animals people are capable of changing into. Since humans are usually predatory and at the top of the food chain in any place where they can be found, they tend to transform into the local species which are most similar to them. These are most commonly mammalian carnivores that are revered for traits such as their intelligence, power, and complex social behavior, especially various canine, feline, and ursine species.

Wolves hold a powerful symbolic grip on the human psyche in every place where their range overlaps with that of man, so werewolves are usually the most common kind of shapeshifter in any part of the world where wolves are found. In places where they are not known the most popular species for shapeshifting are the big cats. In a few places smaller species, such as foxes, coyotes, and small felines, predominate.

A person born to a shapeshifter parent and a human will be able to change into the same species as their shapechanging parent, since the condition is always dominant to normal humanity. When a person has shapeshifting parents of two different species, they will only inherit the ability to change into one species. The inheritance is completely random, and there is no way for the parents to tell which species the child will be until they develop the ability to change, usually around 16-18 years of age.

A shapeshifter has the ability to spend as much time in either human or animal form as it wishes. However, it is unhealthy for them to spend too much time in either form. Someone who spends all their time in animal form runs the risk of forgetting that they are also human. Most spend the majority of their time in human form trying to lead normal lives, but they must spend some time in animal form as well. The longer a person stays in human form, the more intense and difficult the instincts from their animal side will be to control. They do not have a need to kill humans or other creatures, but they do have to “vent” their animal urges by spending time outdoors exploring and exercising their senses. Although they have full use of their animal senses (night vision and advanced hearing and smelling abilities) in human form, it is more fulfilling to use them in the way they were naturally meant to be used.

The frequency of the need to change into animal form is partially based on size, although individuals do show a lot of variation based on personality and metabolism. A smaller shapeshifter, such as a werefox or a werewolf, usually needs to spend at least one night in animal form every two or three weeks. A larger one, such as a weretiger, can easily go two or three months without needing to change.

A person who refuses or is unable to spend time in animal form will develop many unstable behaviors. Someone who is usually calm and polite may begin to lash out at people and will start to behave like an aggressive animal. In the worst-case scenario, they will undergo a spontaneous unintentional transformation during a time of intense emotion (especially anger or fear), and they will be unable to stop themselves from hurting people.
All shapeshifters have an instinctual desire not to be seen transforming by humans which can over-ride the need to spend time in animal form in circumstances where they are unable to change without being seen. The stress of doing so can lead to the development of many mental disorders, but it protects them from the consequences of revealing the truth of their existence to the human world.”

A continuation of my Werewolf Identification Guide, this time focusing on non-wolf shapeshifters. They basically follow the same rules as werewolves, with only a few minor variations.

Other chapters:
Basic physical features of werewolves- [link]
How shapeshifting is transferred with a bite- [link]
Rogues- [link]
Capture and restraint- [link]
Terminology- [link]
Psychology- [link]
Physical appearances- [link]
South America- [link]

This is just something I came up with a few years ago as my version of how shapeshifters should work if they were real. I think the ability to transform at whatever time you choose and into different species makes it much more interesting than the way it is usually presented in the movies.
Hope and Trust
Moonchild
Werewolf Guide - Other Species
MangaJLA: Secret Identities 2
Psyche