This article originally appeared in Issue #009 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
Weapons: Teeth & claws, 1D6-5 wounds
Special: 1D3 wounds if ingested
Armor: None, 1 hit point
This small creature is found in almost every terrain type on its homeworlds, its incidence limited only by availability of prey, and since it feeds on a wide variety of insects it is particularly widespread. In common with its insect prey, it is found on many worlds throughout known space.
Its hairy, eight-limbed form resembles a large tarantula, having a bulbous abdomen and combined head and thorax. It uses six limbs for locomotion and two for manipulation. The two forelimbs have crablike pincers. One pincer limb, predominantly the right one (though ‘left handed’ examples are known) has one jaw thinned and elongated, resembling a knife blade, whilst the other jaw is vestigial. The other limb has a standard two-jawed pincer.
The bughunter has two eyes, with good binocular vision like many predators. Its ‘hearing’ is limited to sensing vibrations through its feet and perhaps its body hairs. The feet on its six legs have a combination of tiny retractable claws and sticky pads, allowing it to climb most surfaces despite its weight. It does not spin a web, having no silk glands, but it tends to nest in dark enclosed spaces.
The normal pincer is used for picking up hard-bodied insects, while the blade is used partly as a skewer for picking up soft-bodied insects, but primarily for winkling insects out of crevices.
Bughunters are capable of fairly rapid movement, achieving speeds of up to 2 metres per second over distances of several metres, but they tire quickly and are usually content to browse corners and crevices sedately.
Feeding and Predation
Bughunters feed on any insects they can catch, which frequently rules out many flying species purely on the basis of opportunity, and microscopic prey may not be worth harvesting. Their digestion seems to be unaffected by venoms or irritants within the prey species.
They have few natural predators. Their body hair is brightly coloured in yellows and reds as a warning of danger and their body fluids have strong emetic properties. Most would-be predators seem able to determine the bughunter’s unpalatable nature by smell. This is undetectable to humans, who nevertheless find bughunters inedible.
Contrary to its intimidating appearance, the bughunter is effectively harmless to humans. Generally, it will run if it feels threatened and does not retaliate unless attacked. It rarely considers disturbance or even handling to be an attack, though surprising it whilst it is asleep is the activity most likely to trigger retaliation. Therefore it is best to examine shoes and bags before inserting hands and feet.
The blade, although wicked-looking, is not significantly sharper or stronger than human fingernails, and is a limited threat to human skin. The teeth, although stronger, are generally used only for eating and are not venomous, whilst the pincer has only the strength of tweezers, so although its teeth and blade are capable of causing minor damage, documented cases of significant injury are rare. Any injuries incurred are likely to be limited to the type of minor punctures and scratches associated with small pet rodents.
Bughunters are sometimes kept as pets, particularly amongst the lower echelons of society or amongst itinerants, as they are particularly useful in reducing insect pests common to less salubrious accommodation, though the fact that humans tend to find their form repugnant limits their domestication to those individuals who have greatest need of their services.