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I don't have all goddamn night!
Jake shouting at a pack of attacking viperwolves.

The viperwolf (Na'vi name: nantang) is a hyena/wolf-like carnivore that has 6 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.



3D Version: red/cyancross-eyedViperwolf with pups

The viperwolf has six legs, with each hand having three fingers 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 long (6.5 feet in length) and up to one meter tall (3 feet in height) and weigh an average 130 lbs (58kg), slightly bigger than a Terran Grey Wolf but slightly smaller than the extinct Dire Wolf.


Tail chase

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".

So'lek fighting viperwolf

A viperwolf attacking So'lek

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. However, they may attack lone Na'vi, especially if they detect that a Na'vi seems vulnerable.


The habitats of the viperwolf include rainforests, savanna, and subarctic regions of Pandora.

Feeding Ecology[]

Viperwolves are predominantly nocturnal carnivorous pack hunters with territories ranging over 480 kilometers.


Viperwolf HD

A snarling viperwolf

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 (5 miles) away.

Viperwolf jaws can exert four kilograms (9 pounds) 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 howling, coyote-like barks, hyena cackles, and snake-like hissing.

Repelling Viperwolves[]

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.

Na'vi Culture[]

Viperwolf Clan

Huyuticaya clan, a clan that worships the viperwolf

Viperwolves are shunned by the Na'vi as dangerous predators that the weak or unwary may fall prey to. Despite this, they respect viperwolves for their intelligence, devotion to the pack, and family ties, as they highly value these social values themselves. They worship these animals as much as the Native North Americans once worshiped the wild Terran wolves.

Some clans, such as the Huyuticaya Clan (non-canon), have chosen this creature as their symbol, and its image is often represented on flags, shields and clan decorations. The viperwolf lifestyle, on the other hand, is celebrated in countless songs and dances.

Viperwolf skins are sometimes used for clothing and ornaments, primarily by members of the aforementioned clan, but also by others. For example, Tan Jala of the Tipani Clan, wears a headdress made from the head of a viperwolf, as well as individual pieces of armor made from its chitin shell.

RDA activities (Feral Project)[]

The Resources Development Administration is known to experiment on viperwolves. They had a project known as the Feral Project in an attempt to train animals to be vicious killers that could be controlled. They had traumatic surgeries performed on them. Their kuru, their sensitive neural whips, were forcefully removed. This has resulted in them exhibiting erratic behavior, not only severing their connection to Eywa but also with other animals.



  • In Avatar, a pack of viperwolves attacked Jake Sully when he became lost in the jungle during the night. He made attempts to fend them off with a torch and managed to injure two viperwolves before a third leapt on him and pinned him to the ground. Neytiri intervened and saved his life by killing that viperwolf and two others, before driving the rest of them away. Viperwolves were called into battle by Eywa and attacked SecOps mercenaries toward the end of the Assault on the Tree of Souls.
  • In Avatar: The Way of Water, viperwolves are among the many animals that were incinerated to their deaths by the exhaust flares when they were seen fleeing from the firestorm during the RDA's return in 2169. The group of recoms led by Miles Quaritch encounters several of the animals shortly after their arrival in the forest.
  • In James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, a group of them attacked the Landing Zone in the Blue Lagoon.


  • 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 Scenes[]


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