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In all of Star Wars’ long and compelling history, few beasts are as fearsome, deadly, and sheer bowel-quakingly powerful as the Krayt Dragon. One of the largest beings in all of the Star Wars Universe, Krayt Dragons are monsters of legend. And few who see them live to tell the tale.
Throughout every movie, novel, comic, show, and audio drama, Krayt Dragons make few appearances. But when they do show themselves, they are not to be trifled with, whether that’s in Knights of the Old Republic or mentioned in passing by Grand Admiral Thrawn.
I’ve been exploring the fringes of Star Wars lore and history since before I had facial hair, and in that time I’ve seen my share of terrifying Star Wars monsters. There’re the Rancors ridden by Nightsisters on Dathomir and the hideous Gorog that eats Rancors for a snack on Cato Neimoidia. There’s the bloodthirsty Wampa on Hoth, and who can forget the terrifying Acklay of Vendaxa? But we all know the Krykna of Atollon takes the cake; spiders in Star Wars? No thanks.
But of all the beasts and baddies throughout the galaxy far, far away, few are as hard to bag and tag as the one and only Krayt Dragon. Today I’ll take a closer look at the gargantuan monstrosity and why taking one down is the achievement of several lifetimes.
Key Info Up Front
Don’t want the entire biology of Krayt Dragons? Looking for a summary in a paragraph or less? Here:
Krayt Dragons are big scary lizards that live on Tatooine and are legendary for their ability to absolutely murder anything they approach. They come in large and extra large, and all their abilities make them unfair in a fight.
One might call them space Komodo Dragons on steroids.
Krayt Dragons In The Wild
Thankfully, Krayt Dragons are only found on one planet in all of Star Wars: Tatooine. And mercifully, they aren’t common occurrences. There are two main kinds of Krayt Dragons in Star Wars, and while both of them are huge, one is clearly larger than the other.
The Canyon Krayt is a dragon you don’t want to mess with and what one thinks of when they hear ‘Krayt Dragon.’ It lives in caves in the desert and eats unsuspecting Jawas and Tusken Raiders, or a Bantha or Dewback if one is available. It has venomous fangs, blaster-resistant armor, and an unstoppable urge to kill.
The Greater Krayt is something out of myth and only appears once every few generations. It’s so large, it swims through the sand like a whale through the sea. And while it can eat Tusken Raiders, it would prefer something bigger, like several Banthas. But even then, a Bantha is a snack to a Greater Krayt. Greater Krayts hunt Sarlaccs and then sleep in the Sarlacc’s empty lair.
Yeah. That’s right.
Picture how big a Sarlacc is in your mind. With all its tentacles pulling in multiple people at once to feed. And remember that it’s like a sand iceberg–a sandberg if you will–since about 95% of its body is hidden beneath the sands.
Now picture something big enough to hunt those things.
Like a skyscraper swimming through the sand.
Canyon Krayts are dragons hunted by Tusken Raiders as part of their coming-of-age ceremony. If the young Tusken Raider doesn’t kill the Krayt, he isn’t welcome back into his tribe. And in order to kill the Krayt, the young Tusken Raider either needs to be extremely clever with traps, or they need to perfect their accuracy with blaster rifles. The Krayt has a weak spot on its skull that is no bigger than a blaster bolt. If this weak spot is hit, the damage goes right to the Krayt’s brain, immediately killing it.
This tradition is one of the reasons Tuskens have such great aim with their blasters; they are forced to obtain perfect accuracy in order to kill a Krayt. Because if they don’t kill a Krayt, they aren’t a Tusken Raider.
That’s a different story when it comes to Greater Krayts—being that they’re the size of starships and all.
Tusken Raiders usually don’t hunt Greater Krayts. Instead, they study and watch its behavior. They observe its eating patterns and often feed it sacrificial Banthas to keep it satiated, full, and tired. This then allows the Tusken Raiders to travel and move about the desert without fear of being eaten. Greater Krayts also have the added ability to spew acidic venom on their foes. While the Canyon Krayt has a venomous bite, the Greater Krayt is like a giant spitting cobra.
Krayt Dragons are known to eat rocks and boulders, a form of digestion used by some birds here on our own planet. The rocks stay in the Krayt’s gizzard-like organ and help them break up the food they eat. And since they’re often eating groups of Tusken Raiders or even Banthas whole, it makes sense they’d need some help digesting. Those rocks are worn smooth after years and years of rolling around inside the Krayt, and eventually the rocks will become pearls.
The most precious and sought-after thing about a Krayt isn’t their skull, hide, or even the bragging rights to say you killed a Krayt Dragon. The real treasure is the Krayt pearl. It’s steeped in lore and mysticism. And it’s not just an expensive bauble. It’s powerful and can be used as a focusing crystal in Jedi lightsabers.
Krayt Dragon Lore
Krayt Dragons are used all over Tatooine to symbolize power and strength and to intimidate enemies. Tusken Raiders believe the bones of Krayt Dragons are magical and hold power long after death. And they believe the pearl found inside the Krayt is the most precious treasure you can find in the desert.
Aside from water.
That giant skeleton you see sitting in the background of Episode 4 while C-3PO has a lovers quarrel with R2-D2? That’s a Krayt Dragon. But knowing what we know about how sacred and sought after their bones are, it doesn’t quite make sense that it’s just lying there in the open.
The first time we see a Krayt Dragon moving around in the Star Wars Universe is in the video game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, making a more accurate appearance later in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
The majority of Krayt interactions–and just about all the best interactions in Star Wars–are found in video games. But during the Mandalorian Season 2, fans were treated to a massive fight between a Greater Krayt and a whole town full of people. We’re able to see the size, the ferocity, and the sheer power of a Greater Krayt front and center. Fans can see the Greater Krayt spit its venom a hundred feet and completely melt anything in its path–except for Din Djarin, of course.
The fight is an excellent example of how an entire army would have trouble dealing with Greater Krayts. They swim through the sand, spew acidic venom, and they’re almost as large as a frigate. The only reason Mando is able to best the creature is thanks to his extensive array of deadly armaments. And his jetpack.
One of the most successful and skilled Sith to ever exist was a Dark Lord by the name of Darth Krayt. Born A’Sharad Hett, he was a force-sensitive Tusken Raider who became a padawan to Ki-Adi-Mundi and rose to be a general during the Clone Wars. He escaped Order 66 by returning home and blending in with the Tusken Raiders. After a run-in with Obi-wan during his stay on Tatooine, Hett left the planet and became a listless bounty hunter for a while. He apprenticed himself to a Sith hiding on Korriban and started his transformation to become Darth Krayt.
Darth Krayt ruled the entire galaxy multiple times. He achieved what other Dark Lords dream of: mastery over death. Dark Krayt died several times, but was powerful enough that he would either resurrect his own body or simply wait as a ghost until someone else did it. He communed with long-dead Sith Lords, hunted the Skywalker bloodline to near extinction, and took the most fortified planet in the galaxy–Coruscant–with a breed of Sith soldiers unknown to the universe.
Darth Krayt was by far one of the most fearsome and deadly Sith to wield a lightsaber. He lived up to his namesake in every way, shape, and form.
Krayt Dragon Cousins
Though they’ve yet to be utilized much in the current Star Wars canon, there are creatures called Kell Dragons in Star Wars Legends that are essentially domesticated Krayts. They were brought from Tatooine, bred in space by monster enthusiasts, and sold to crime lords, pirates, or other seedy individuals. Kell Dragons prefer deserts, like their wild cousins, but they have been known to make a home just about anywhere. It’s incredibly stylish for a villain to own a pet Kell Dragon.
Owning a pet Rancor that eats your enemies is so pre-millennium. Owning a Kell Dragon to rip your enemies to shreds and then eat them is much more popular these days.
How Do Krayt Dragons Compare To Other Beasts?
So Krayt Dragons are big and dangerous. Got it.
But how do they compare to other monsters in the Star Wars Universe?
Good question. Let’s discuss.
While I don’t have specific numbers of length, weight, or height to share with you, I can give some easy classifications to help you frame the appropriate size of Krayts in your mind’s eye.
Remember the Rancor I mentioned early? Who doesn’t remember Rancors? Those things look like they got a healthy dose of ugly when they were dreamed up. And if you’ve seen the Book of Boba Fett, you may have seen an armored bounty hunter ride a Rancor for a deadly combo. But Rancors would not last long against a Canyon Krayt, and they’d be gobbled up whole by a Greater Krayt.
What about the Wampa, Gorog, or Acklay that I mentioned earlier?
The Wampa would go down the quickest. Wampas are little more than abominable snowmen with murder in their hearts. They aren’t that big, so both Krayts would snack on it quickly enough.
Acklays are weird spider/crab abominations with spikes for feet and more teeth than necessary. A Greater Krayt would swallow it whole, and a Canyon Krayt would take its time eating.
Ah, but the Gorog. The Gorog is definitely bigger and meaner than a Canyon Krayt, and probably one of the only beings in all of Star Wars that could stand toe-to-toe with a Greater Krayt. But the Greater Krayt swims through sand, spits venom, and has ten legs. The Gorog is essentially a bigger, meaner Rancor.
There are few monsters bigger than a Greater Krayt Dragon. Sarlaccs can grow to be bigger than Greater Krayts, but they lack an adequate defense for them. Sando Monsters, Space Slugs, and Suma Verminooth are some of the only recorded beings in Star Wars that are bigger than a Greater Krayt Dragon.
Question: What if a Greater Krayt was awake and hungry–not like that sleepy one in the Mandalorian–and was actively hunting. Would a Jedi be able to kill it?
Answer: Look, I’m not going to sit here and play ‘What if’ the Star Wars edition with you.
That’s a lie, yes I am.
Okay, so we’re talking about a beast that’s bigger than 99% of every living organism in the universe and you’re wondering if a single, lone, solitary Jedi would best it?
Most likely not.
Let’s picture Yoda standing there, holding his little lightsaber, the Force swirling about him. I’m reasonably sure that Yoda is wise enough to look at a Greater Krayt and realize he needs to get the hell out of there.
Question: If Greater Krayts are so big, how was one Bantha full of explosives able to kill one in The Mandalorian?
Answer: Because that’s how the writers wanted it. Easy.
No, I’m kidding. If you go back and watch that episode again, at no point do we ever see more than maybe 30% of the Greater Krayt. We never see its legs, its tail, its back, or even its body. The original plan devised by Din and the townsfolk on Tatooine was to lure the Greater Krayt out and set explosives to go off under the Krayt’s belly, a spot weaker than the rest of it. But the Krayt never exposed itself that much, it just started spitting venom and swimming around. So Din came up with a plan of strapping all the bombs to a Bantha and having the Krayt eat the Bantha. When he sets the explosives, he doesn’t blow up the whole Krayt. He essentially just explodes its throat. It would be like swallowing a cherry bomb for a human. 90% of your body is fine, but what isn’t REALLY isn’t. So the vast majority of the Krayt was fine–until the Tusken Raiders started chopping it up for meat–but it’s hard to survive when your throat has been blown up.
Question: Has anyone ever owned a Krayt Dragon as a pet?
Answer: In all the lands of shifting sands and multiple suns, there was only ever one being with big enough huevos even to consider owning and taming a Krayt Dragon. Who? Who would be mad enough to conceive such a thing? Why none other than Jabba the Freaking Hutt. Before his death, Jabba had a young Krayt Dragon that he was trying to tame to fill in for the loss of his Rancor. Fans can read about it in the comic Star Wars Adventures 11.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just about everything you could possibly need to know about Krayt Dragons in the Star Wars Universe. I mean, yes, we could go into more detail about their mating habits, the subtle differences between male and female Krayts, and the long list of accomplished hunters who’ve bagged one. But I’m pretty sure you know enough about Krayts to take one down yourself.
They’re big, they’re bad, and they’re scarier than facing down a mob of Trandoshans on Nar Shadda with only a hydrospanner.
Krayt Dragons are the real deal when it comes to ferocious monsters in the Star Wars Universe. And if you ever find yourself waltzing around the backwater badlands of Tatooine, you’d best avoid any signs of them.