|“|| I don't have all goddamn night!
- Jake shouting at a pack of attacking viperwolves.
The viperwolf (Na'vi name: nantang) is a small, hyena/wolf-like carnivore that has six legs, a lean, powerful torso and has evolved to travel swiftly over long distances in search of prey. Very few predators (the mountain banshee among them) will attempt an attack on a viperwolf. Viperwolves almost always move in packs that can mass together into a highly cooperative hunting party within seconds of finding prey.
A pack of viperwolves attack Jake Sully when he becomes lost in the jungle during the night. He makes attempts to fend them off with a torch and manages to injure two viperwolves before a third leaps on him and pins him to the ground. Neytiri intervenes and saves his life by killing that viperwolf and two others, before driving the rest of them away. Viperwolves, called into battle by Eywa, attack SecOps mercenaries toward the end of the Assault on the Tree of Souls. They are also featured in the game, when a group of them attack the Landing Zone in the Blue Lagoon.
The viperwolf has six legs, with each paw having three toes and an opposable thumb. This allows it to climb trees as well as stalk from the ground and, thereby, creates a three-dimensional hunting field. It is mostly black, but is banded with vermillion and iridescent blue. Its hairless skin appears burnished and the low-slung head has chitinous armor around the neck, which turns to amphipod plating on the back of the neck and spine. The viperwolf has distensible snakelike jaws with obsidian teeth and a paddle-like tail for stability. Bioluminescent patterns are used for pack identification. Adults reach up to two meters in length and up to one meter in height.
When stalking prey, the viperwolf is able to reduce its profile by hugging the ground or clinging to tree limbs. Its dark skin allows it to blend in with the environment at night and, thus hidden, a viperwolf can often approach within a few meters of unsuspecting prey and then attack with frightening efficiency. One xenobiologist describes this graceful, ominous movement as “liquid darkness”.
Only months after birth, a viperwolf cub is required to hunt on its own. However, the cubs mature swiftly and grow to half the adult size by their sixth month. By then, they also have a full set of teeth and their jaw muscles are almost mature. Viperwolf young are playful, in much the same manner as that of Terran Canidae pups. Although vicious during combat and hunting, viperwolf mothers treat their cubs in a gentle, loving manner. They are also known to avoid the scent of the Slinger.
The viperwolf is also seen to be kind-natured and playful to their own kind.
The habitats of the viperwolf include rainforests, savanna, and subarctic regions of Pandora.
Viperwolves are predominantly nocturnal carnivorous pack hunters with territories ranging over 480 kilometers.
The ratio of brain mass to body weight of the average adult viperwolf indicates a high order of mental processing, pattern recognition, and communication skills.
Their keen intelligent green eyes can see as clearly at night as in the day. Their long distance vision is only moderate, but their depth perception is superior. Their sense of smell is second only to the thanator (based on the few creatures that have been measured to date) and it is believed that a viperwolf can sense prey from more than eight kilometers away.
Viperwolf jaws can exert four kilograms of pressure per square centimeter, enough to crush bone, or even stone.
The pack appears to communicate information about the potential prey or predator with facial tics, paw gestures, and audio cues. The viperwolf hunts in small groups, communicating with coyote-like barks, hyena cackles, and snake-like hissing.
As viperwolves are dangerous to both Na'vi and Humans, each race developed their own way of keeping the creatures at bay. The RDA make use of repulsor pods to patch holes in their security fences. The Na'vi have discovered a type of plant sap that replicates the scent of the slinger to repel the creatures.
- Some of the noises made by the Viperwolves are reminiscent of Hyena "laughter" and snake hisses.
- They seem to occupy the ecological niche of wolves, coyotes, and hyenas on Earth.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide Pg. 103
- Pandorapedia - Viperwolf article
- James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 92-93