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"I thought they smelled bad on the outside!"
Han Solo — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

Tauntauns (pronounced /ˈtɔːn-tɔːn/) were a species of non-sentient reptomammals native to the snowy plains of Hoth. They were used by members of the Rebel Alliance after they domesticated some of them when they built their new headquarters on Hoth. Jabba Desilijic Tiure kept a stuffed tauntaun head in his palace beside Han Solo, who was at the time frozen in carbonite.

Biology and appearance[edit | edit source]

"A pulse! The big gal's alive!"
―Sgt. Maxim[src]

A Rebel trooper riding a tauntaun mount on Hoth

Tauntaun's thick skin helped them survive the icy conditions on Hoth that few other creatures could.[5] Sure-footed and furry, the tauntauns were well adapted to the daytime temperature on Hoth, although they could not handle the chilling extremes of the night, which often reached below −60°C. They had scaly skin beneath their heavy layers of fur and secreted thick, pungent oils to attract mates. Tauntauns had two sets of nostrils, one large and one small. The large set was used for maximum oxygen intake during intense physical activity, while the small set was used during inactive periods and grazing, to keep out snow. Tauntauns could also alternate breathing between the two sets of nostrils, allowing them to regulate body heat.

Their long claws helped them climb icy surfaces and scrape away lichen and small ice plants which often grew in glacial caves and grottos, the crevices serving as their homes due to heat from the planet's core often coming up through the openings. Sunlight that passed through the ice of the caves allowed the small plants to grow, thus providing a source of food for the creatures.

In the wild, tauntauns often traveled in packs of 25, and could burrow into the snow for warmth.[6] Their tails helped to keep balance while running.[3]

The creatures had an odor that was unpleasant to humans due to layers of fatty blubber that helped them acclimate to the temperatures of Hoth, but was apparently nothing compared to the smell from the inside of a fresh tauntaun corpse.[3]

Behavior[edit | edit source]

"If there's one thing I've learned about training tauntauns, you gotta use what you have…and make the best of it!"
―Sgt. Maxim[src]

A wampa feasts on a tauntaun in its cave.

There were fifteen varying tauntaun subspecies, all of which were prey to the towering wampa ice creatures. As they were swift, docile and able to run at speeds up to 90 kph, they were often able to outrun their wampa predators and could use their horns for combat if necessary.[3] Tauntauns were migratory, with migration routes across the surface of Hoth. Their strength and hardiness made the well suited for use as transports.[5]

Tauntauns could be domesticated for various purposes. When the Alliance to Restore the Republic established their new headquarters on Hoth, they utilized the native tauntauns as mounts owing to the planet's cold temperatures occasionally shutting down their T-47 airspeeders in the morning. Kept in pens, the tauntauns were ultimately released from captivity when the Galactic Empire invaded the planet during the Battle of Hoth.[source?]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Rodent-like concept sketch

When tauntauns first appeared in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, they were represented on screen through a combination of puppetry and stop-motion animation.

Reptilian-style model

Several other tauntaun concepts, ranging from a rodent-like creature to a more reptilian one, were considered before the final look was chosen.

The sounds of the tauntauns were created from a recording of an Asian sea otter.[7]

The Pantone colors used by the film's production for the tauntaun were 427U, 467U and 463U.[8]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Non-canon appearances[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Helmet Collection logo small.png Star Wars Helmet Collection 32 (Helmets: Hoth Rebel Soldier)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 StarWars.com Encyclopedia Tauntaun in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; backup link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
  6. Lost Stars
  7. Pirrello, Phil. 100 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (2019-05-10). IGN. Archived from the original on December 22, 2019. "Ever wonder where the sound of the tauntaun comes from? Ben "Yep, I track down sound effects for a living" Burtt used a recording of an Asian sea otter."
  8. InstagramIcon.png Star Wars (@starwars) on InstagramTauntaun Pantone colors. (backup link)
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