The science fiction genre of films has created a limitless universe of planets to be populated with unusual ecosystems filled with exotic and alien creatures to entertain us on the big screen. These extraterrestrial animals are often given additional backstories to stimulate imaginations beyond their all-too-often role of filling out the backgrounds of our favorite movies. Strap on your snow boots and grab a scarf: We’re going to the harsh, frozen wastelands of Hoth! (As seen in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
Standing at over 6 feet tall, with huge claws, hooked horns and a taste for blood, the wampa was made famous for hunting down and attacking Luke Skywalker before the battle of Hoth. These massive brutes stalk the plains of Hoth in search of their favorite prey: Tauntauns. Wampas hunt alone by silently sneaking up to their target while blending into their snowy environment for a devastating ambush attack. Perhaps the most horrifying thing about wampas is their preference of taking dazed targets back to their ice cave lairs, and sticking the victim’s feet into the iced over ceiling to be consumed at the wampa’s leisure. This laidback feeding strategy didn’t work out too well for the unfortunate wampa that dragged Luke into its live-in refrigerator.
Wampas are notoriously interesting quarry for big game hunters who frequent Hoth on safari to track down and blast one of the sneakiest and most intelligent alpha predators in the galaxy. Outside of the freezing wilds of Hoth, wampas can rarely be seen as exotic pets or forced gladiatorial combatants. Players can even take on the role of a wampa in Star Wars Battlefront 2’s “Hunt” mode, where both Rebels and Imperial Troopers are yours for the mauling!
And you thought they smelled bad on the outside! Tauntauns are a species of large lichen-eating bipeds that the Rebels used as patrol mounts when their own high-tech transports were grounded by the savage cold and frequent blizzards of Hoth. Apparently tauntains need to take refuge during the frigid nights, as they are prone to keeling over to be used as sleeping bags for cold smugglers and their Jedi friends if they are left out in the open.
Although tauntauns are fast and are capable of defending themselves with their rounded horns, they are the primary food source for wampas. Some if this beast’s adaptations to their frosty world include large snowshoe-like feet, four nostrils to control heat loss and a coat of thick grey fur. While the Rebels appreciated the noble tauntauns for their speed and for how easily they were domesticated, Jabba the Hutt fancied the creature on his trophy wall instead. Seriously, in Return of the Jedi, look to the right of Han Solo while he’s hanging on Jabba’s wall to catch a glimpse of a taxidermy tauntaun head!
Even though there are other animals native to Hoth outside of Tauntauns and Wampas, (How weird would a two-animal ecosystem be, anyway?), that were mentioned in the expanded universe of Star Wars comics, videogames and novels, they are pretty insignificant. No joke- Just slap the word “Ice” or “Snow” in front of a general type of animal and you get the general idea of the Snowmice, Ice Bats and Glacier Worms that supposedly call Hoth home. As “cool” as Hoth’s local wildlife is, I don’t think that I’d want to go snowboarding there anytime soon…