Tatooine is a dry, dusty world that is perhaps best known as the home planet of the Tusken Raiders, or Sand People. Yet, Tatooine is also home to the animals that the Sand People ride–banthas.
Appearing in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, banthas were the first creatures of the famed film series. Yet, it’s a wonder that anything can survive on Tatooine, never mind these very large animals. So, how do banthas survive on Tatooine?
They survive by being adaptable to their different environment and flexible with their diet. They also have Tusken Raiders looking out for them.
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How Do Banthas Survive on Tatooine?
Banthas are large mammals that have been domesticated by the Tusken Raiders. They are largely herbivores and one of the most adaptable animals in the Star Wars galaxy.
Banthas are able to survive on Tatooine because they can withstand its extreme environment and go without water or food for weeks. Banthas are very adaptable animals that can survive a range of climates, from deserts to tundras.
Banthas are also especially resourceful. They make use of their tongues to pull up grass and shrubs. This is particularly helpful in a desert world like Tatooine where grass and other edible plants are scarce.
These animals eat a substance referred to as Bantha fodder, or a variety of plants that grow on Tatooine. One of the main parts of bantha fodder is the Teggi fungal root, which the Tusken Raiders use to make such fodder.
You may have heard that bantha fodder is also a term that characters in the Star Wars universe use as an insult. They do so not just because someone may become the food of banthas, but also because the fodder has a bad smell.
Banthas eat more than grass and plants. As depicted on the show The Book of Boba Fett, Banthas also eat meat.
We find this out in Episode 4 of the series when Boba Fett throws a piece of meat over to his bantha and the animal quickly eats it.
Hence, banthas survive by breaking their otherwise vegetarian diet. They may be better classified as omnivores then.
Banthas also travel together for protection. Herds can be as large as twenty-five individual banthas. They also are not aggressive, which decreases chances of danger.
Banthas are estimated to have existed on at least twelve planets, and they can live between 80 and 100 years.
What Features Help Banthas Survive?
The most common bantha is classified as Bantha majorus. An adult bantha can grow to two or three meters tall and weigh close to 4,000 kilograms.
Banthas tend to have similar features. They have been described as “quadrupeds that were covered with long, shaggy fur and had large curved horns.” Although male bulls are usually larger, both bulls and female cows have the distinctive spiral horns.
These spiral horns grow at the rate of about one knob per year. The bantha’s health is actually indicated by how thick and well-formed the horns are. So, their horns reflect the animal’s ability to maintain a good diet.
The horns of bulls may deteriorate not just from diet, but also from fighting with other males. The female banthas usually only have a single spiral, but males can grow two full spirals.
We can also look at their fur as a feature that helps banthas survive. The fur of a bantha is known to reduce sunlight exposure and resist sand debris.
Size, horns, fur, and resourcefulness all come into play with bantha survival.
The Tusken Raiders and Banthas
The banthas on Tatooine are central to the life and culture of the Sand People. When a child Tusken Raider grows to age seven, he or she is given a bantha as a life-long companion.
Since the Tusken Raider takes care of the bantha, this also helps with the survival of banthas. Raiders and banthas form bonds with one another, and when the bantha is old enough, they ride together.
For Tusken Raiders, banthas become much more than pets or modes of transportation. Banthas become one with the Tuskens, like members of the family.
This close relationship helps individual banthas and groups of them to stay alive in the tough environment of Tatooine.
Although banthas have few natural enemies, the Sand People would normally help protect banthas from attacks by krayt dragons. However, in The Book of Boba Fett, the Tuskens actually set a trap for a krayt dragon using a bantha.
Most of the time, though, Tusken Raiders and banthas have a collaborative, mutually-beneficial relationship that helps both survive in the harsh world of Tatooine.
Banthas on Tatooine
Banthas survive on Tatooine by being excellent foragers and adapting their diet beyond plants. They also have bodies and fur that protect them against the environment.
The Tusken Raiders are integral to bantha survival as well. In turn, banthas are central to the Sand People’s way of life.
Todd Wahlstrom is a creative and analytical freelance writer and life-long Star Wars fan. He has covered such topics as Darth Vader, the Jedi, Boba Fett, and AT-AT Walkers. Todd has published a non-fiction book, holds a Ph.D. in history, and enjoys hiking, running, and reading about science.