|Average height||250 cm|
|Location / range||Hoth|
|Social unit||Mostly solitary|
|Danger rating||Extreme threat|
Wampas are furry bipedal ice creatures indigenous to the remote Outer Rim planet Hoth.
While rarely seen away from their remote homeworld, wampas are known to participate in illegal gladiatorial combat venues. They are highly valued among big-game hunters for the challenge that comes with hunting the creatures, as well as for their pelts, stuffed heads, and other miscellaneous souvenirs that command high prices on the black market. Wampas are now protected under legislation to prevent endangered species from falling into extinction by the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.
Wampas comprised 11% of Hoth's total indigenous population.
Anatomy and appearance Edit
The bipedal beasts stand over two meters in height with shaggy white fur constantly stained by the blood and guts of slaughtered prey. Wampas are armed with jagged yellow teeth, deadly claws, and yellow eyes. Aided by an acute sense of smell and a well-camouflaged coat of thick fur, the carnivorous wampas roam Hoth's icy plains preying on near-helpless animals.
Older wampas possess short, jagged, curving horns, which are an indication of age. The horns begin to appear at the onset of puberty and continue to grow larger as the wampa ages. Wampas' horns are similar to those of Hoth's native tauntauns, though the two species are unrelated.
Wampas are classified as reptomammals, creatures combining the best defensive characteristics of reptiles with the more adaptable physiologies of mammals—specifically, they were linked to primates. The wampa physiology was well adapted to conserving heat in the extreme cold. Beneath their protective fur was a layer of blubber for greater insulation. They are also physiologically equipped with a self-regulating metabolism.
The wampa reigned at the top of the Hoth food chain as the planet's most violent alpha predator. With their strong sense of smell, coat of thick white fur, blending in perfectly with the icy landscape of Hoth, and brute strength, wampas make excellent natural hunters. A single powerful blow from a wampa's forearm is enough to neutralize the largest prey, while the creature's bite is deadly.
In terms of the creature's diet, wampas subsist primarily on Hoth's many varieties of omnivorous tauntauns, although they also hunt antlered mammals called rayboo and other, smaller unwary creatures—as well as attacking anyone or anything else they encounter that might seem to be a source of food if particularly hungry. The powerful wampa requires large amounts of food to sustain itself, and a single tauntaun was enough to nourish one wampa for a considerable period. Wampa family groups, in particular, require a substantial supply of meat, since a female wampa can birth up to three cubs at once. However, the competition among wampas for Hoth's relatively small number of prey animals forms a limit to the numbers of the creatures existing on Hoth, keeping the wampa relatively scarce. Wampas were particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises, sounds that were similar to those made by a female in search of a mate. They emitted a very faint scent, preventing tauntauns from detecting a wampa's approach. Their saliva also serves as an anesthetic in the victims, which helped to keep prey comatose until the wampa was ready to eat.
Wampas mate during the warmer months of the Hoth yearly cycle, during which time they gather in regions where game was plentiful, to search for companionship. While the females remain together and wait, the males go off in search of prey. After making a kill, male wampas commonly smear the blood of their victims across their chests and return with the dead animal to show the females, thus demonstrating his ability to care for a mate. Sometimes the males spar with one another for a particular female's companionship. The winners of these bouts choose their preferred mates. They are then considered the alpha males of that region until the following mating season.
In terms of their reproduction methods, wampas could be considered marsupials. Their cubs are born live, but very underdeveloped, closely resembling a miniature worm small enough to fit on a spoon. After mating, female wampas birth up to three cubs per litter. These infants, after birth, crawl to their mothers' pouches, where they nurse, grow, and develop over a period of roughly three months—after which time they leave the pouch with a full set of teeth, needle-sharp claws, and an innate attitude of invincibility. Mothers would produce milk to nurse their young until the cubs were able to sustain themselves on meat alone. Wampa mothers are extremely protective of their offspring, and during the nursing period even males risk the consequences of coming between a mother and her cubs. As they grow, young wampas are taught how to hunt, survive in the cold, and how to care for game from their mothers and fathers.
Primarily solitary hunters, wampas occasionally hunt in packs, preferring to ambush their prey from the camouflage of Hoth's snow banks and blizzards. Stunned victims are carried back to the creatures' lairs, typically large ice caves, where the wampas eat at their leisure. The planet's omnivorous tauntauns form the bulk of the wampas' prey, although they attack anything they encounter.
Wampas typically travel on two or four legs, preferring four except when stalking or during an attack. The creatures stalk their prey until reaching close enough proximity to make a rush attack. A wampa takes a final sighting of its target by rising on its hind legs and then springing forward in a deadly pounce with claws outstretched. Very rarely are wampas themselves the victims of predators—in fact, the creatures have no natural enemies except for other wampas.
Wampas are typically solitary hunters. Wampas hunt both by day and, at shorter range, during Hoth's bitterly cold night. Although the tauntaun, a wampa's primary source of food, is relatively plentiful on Hoth, the scarcity of available wildlife on the planet means that a single wampa has to cover a territory of more than a hundred kilometers when seeking prey.
The comfort zone for a wampa seeking prey is limited to Hoth's frozen plains and the cooler regions of the planet's subterranean caves. Often, Hoth's scaly tauntauns gather among warmer cave areas heated by bubbling pools as a defensive measure, areas that wampas find to be uncomfortably hot. Nevertheless, if hungry enough, wampas are known to ignore their extreme discomfort by venturing deep into these cave systems at night and during Hoth's blizzards. They utilize cunning methods to draw the scaly tauntauns out of their sanctuaries, sometimes rushing into the heated areas to scare their prey out into the cold where they might be cornered. Other times, wampas simply stalk their prey by waiting in the colder regions between these heated tunnels until the tauntauns run from one tunnel to another.
Wampas rarely kill their prey outright and never hunt when they are hungry. Because they prefer fresh meat, wampas instead always try to stun their prey, keeping their victims unconscious, but alive, until ready to feed. After disabling their prey, wampas haul the still-breathing victims back to their cave dwellings and, through different methods, secure them in the ice for later consumption. For some, wampas use their hot breath to melt the ice around a victim's legs and then coat parts of the body in saliva, placing them against the ice ceiling of their caves so they would freeze in place. Alternatively, for larger creatures, such as the tauntaun, wampas frequently impale them through the ankles on overhanging icicles or stalactites to keep them immobile. At times, several fresh victims are stored in this manner.
Wampas, solitary by nature, are nomadic in the sense that they rarely stay in one cave for very long, unless they are with young. They regularly relocate to new lairs both out of the need to follow migrating tauntaun herds, and of the necessity to find cleaner dwellings. Wampas, males in particular, are remarkably messy animals, and their caves are constantly scattered with half-eaten corpses, decomposing entrails, and other bloody, rotting remains. Even nursing females, aside from their fur-lined nests in which cubs were born, live in gore-filled caves. This rotting mess quickly makes wampa caves uninhabitable, forcing the creatures to find new abodes.
Society and culture Edit
Wampas are extremely territorial creatures, fiercely guarding their hunting grounds against any invaders to their domain, and often engage in bouts to the death with other wampas encroaching on their land. The scarcity of Hoth's wildlife means that a single wampa requires a large hunting ground in order to survive, which is believed to be the primary reason why the creatures live alone or in small family-based groups. Because of the substantial amounts of food required to sustain a wampa, they often extend their territory over enormous areas. Upon reaching maturity, younger wampas set out to claim territory of their own, competing with other wampas, including members of their own family, for territorial control, which contributes to keeping the species relatively scarce.
Despite the cutthroat intra-family competition that exists among wampas for territorial control, the creatures nevertheless possess a strong affinity for kinship. Scientists discovered that wampas are very protective of their own and mourn their dead with great intensity. In the instance one was slain, the creatures would fly into destructive rages directed at the killer. If the death was natural, wampas instead vent their rage on their surroundings, sometimes smashing cave walls or ripping apart anyone or anything within reach. Reports tell of some wampas, in their bouts of hysteria, unwittingly causing avalanches and underground cave-ins, causing only more deaths. When the grieving wampas' energy finally subsides, they bury their dead in the snow, keeping guard over it for several days to make sure nothing eats the remains. If a wampa is injured, the rest of its pack would band together to repel the threat.
Although they primarily hunt alone, some wampas occasionally hunt in packs, banding together to attack a threat to the local wampa community, such as a human settlement. During the Galactic Civil War, for example, the Rebel Alliance occupation of Hoth drove many wampas to convene in and inhabit a large secluded valley surrounded by rocks and ice. The valley floor was littered with the remains of creatures who ventured into the wampas' home, never to escape. Outside of mating season, however, the detection of a common threat is the only time wampas group together. By coordinating their hunting actions, wampas demonstrate a rudimentary level of intelligence and cunning, particularly in the capability to scout and determine their enemies' location and strength before formulating an attack. The wampas' aptitude for massively-coordinated attacks make the species one of the most cunning killers in the galaxy.
Wampas are capable of emitting a terrifying hunting roar that can compete with Hoth's howling winds. Their howl is one of their greatest natural gifts, for it can blend in almost imperceptibly with the winds. Only the creatures themselves can tell the two sounds apart. Thus, the howl provides wampas with a highly efficient form of communication that often proves lethal to disoriented prey.
- The creature may have been based on the cryptozoological phenomenon of the "Yeti," or the "Abominable Snowman," a humanoid beast believed to live in the Himalayas. Notes from early concept meetings suggest that the wampa, like the Yeti, may have supernatural powers as well.
- In early story discussions, the wampa was described as a fishlike beast capable of swimming through the snow.