EDITED: Okay, I’m starting my post over to be more specific about my story idea.
MC: A snake, specifically a rat snake. Middle of the food chain. Gender is just a skin variable.
Setting: Unidentified forest, perhaps in Kentucky in the USA. The year is unknown.
Issues: The MC explores what it means to be “civilized.” Think “Jungle Book meets Zootopia meets Orwell’s Animal Farm meets Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle” (yes, I know that last one features an all-human cast but I love the themes)
Basic Premise: An idea is introduced to the animals of the forest. A dangerous idea called “civilization.” One of the other animals has ventured into the human habitats and reports back with how much easier they have made things. Perhaps the animals should adopt a similar system.
So the different animals (prey, predator) debate and create a system. The MC, being in the middle of the food chain, and because no one else wants the job, is selected as “magistrate,” settling disputes between parties as the animals develop and fine-tune their new “civilization.”
But problems emerge immediately, the main problem being: How is the food supply handled? (this problem is ALWAYS ignored in movies like Jungle Book and Zootopia).
And the MC’s nemesis, a red-tailed hawk who would love to dine on some rat snake, tries to convince everyone of the follies of this new system.
And it goes on from there. Explorations of the brutality of nature, how resources should be gained and controlled, and the intrinsic value, if any, of any individual animal.