Infobox fictional creature
name = Graboid

caption = A graboid as seen in "Tremors"
classification = Precambrian predatory invertebrate
first = "Tremors"
last = ""
created by = Ron Underwood
Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
portrayed by = "Tremors"
Tom Woodruff Jr.
Alan Barlow
Bill Basso
Howard Berger
Paul Berg
Rob Burman
Jim Carson
David Chamberlain
Mitchell J. Coughlin
Steve Frakes
Linda Frobos
Alec Gillis
Robert Kartzman
Andrew Miller
David B. Miller
Mark Rappaport
Kevin Reter
Stephen Schultze
Shaun Smith
Carl Sorensen
Michael Spatola
David Shinnett
John Teska
Mark Bryan Wilson
Alec Gillis
Tom Woodruff Jr.
Mario Castillo
Alec Gillis
Steve Kuzela
Johnnie Spence
Tom Woodruff Jr.
Alec Gillis
Tom Woodruff Jr.

The graboid, also called the dirt dragon, is a fictional invertebrate species that is the primary antagonist of the "Tremors" series. The creature made its debut in the 1990 film "Tremors", and reappeared in its sequels ' (1996), ' (2001), and ' (2004). It has also appeared in the series' spinoff ' (2003).

Production details

The details of the graboid design have changed significantly between the transition from the script to the final film – the tongues of the original graboids were equipped with slashing beaks rather than jaws, and the graboid's beak was pointed like a corkscrew. At one point during the production, the graboid design featured a fleshy, retractable membrane which covered the head. Jokingly referred to as a "foreskin" by the production crew, the membrane was removed and replaced with the hard beak present on the final design to make it appear less phallic.

Life cycle


The standard graboid("Caederus mexicana") is the only creature to have appeared in all four entries, and also the 2003 TV series of the same name. They are the first stage of the life cycle of their species, followed by the shrieker and ass-blaster. In "", which is a prequel taking place in 1889, thus before they got their current name, they are referred to as "dirt dragons". The name "graboid" was invented by shop owner character in the first film, "Tremors", Walter Chang (Victor Wong); who was subsequently eaten by one. Promotional material written by the Sci Fi Channel gives them a scientific name: "Caederus mexicana".

As a result of the name of the series, "Tremors", many fans colloquially (and incorrectly) refer to the graboid beasts as "tremors". The result of this was that on-screen in "Tremors 3", a tourist erroneously refers to one as a "tremor", only to be corrected by the character "Desert Jack" who replies, "They're called "graboids!"


Graboids are depicted as subterranean animals, superficially resembling gigantic worms or grubs, with long, serpentine bodies. When fully grown, a mature graboid will measure up to 30 feet long, and 6 feet across at their widest point, and weigh 10-20 tons. Graboids completely lack eyes; they don't need them, due to living underground. Their heads consist of a massive, black, armored beak, which is used to push aside the dirt whilst digging. The beak opens up like a grotesque flower; it consists of a wide upper jaw, a thinner lower jaw, and a pair of hooked mandibles on either side. Whether they possess a skeleton or not is unknown, though a faux scientific document written by the SciFi channel hypotheses they have a semi-rigid internal structure, similar to the internal cuttlebones of certain cephalopods, such as cuttlefish.

Graboids have a trio of long, powerful, serpent-like tentacles, which are prehensile and have a reach of at least ten feet. Each of the three tentacles terminates in a smaller, tooth-filled mouth. Normally kept retracted in the graboid's throat, these tentacles were initially mistaken for the actual creatures, causing the characters in the first "Tremors" film to underestimate their underground opponents. The graboid's common name is derived from these prehensile tentacles, which "grab" prey and suck it back down the graboid's hungry gullet. At times, these tentacles appear to have minds of their own, hissing and writhing like snakes. Food is typically swallowed whole, though early in the original "Tremors" film, they are shown to dismember and decapitate their prey.

A graboid's hide is thick and leathery, with a rough, pebbly texture, giving them a reptilian appearance, (though they are not reptiles). This makes them very hard to kill with anything short of saturation bombing or large-bore rounds. Graboids possess immense physical strength, able to topple over mobile homes, tow along an object heavy as a pickup truck without slowing down, smash through brick walls and pull an entire station wagon underground. Encircling their bodies are short spikes, which all move in unison to push the graboid through the dirt, similar to the setae on an earthworm. They are able to burrow faster than a human can run; a graboid in "" was able to keep pace with Jack's truck. With armored head and mobile spikes working together in unison, a graboid can "swim" through the loose soil at high speed like a shark in the water, though they are incapable of tunneling through solid rock. Graboids (and their nymph and imago forms, the shrieker and ass-blaster respectively) have distinctive orange blood. Graboids also have a powerful stench, which is made evident on several occasions throughout the first film. The graboids' greatest weakness is that it is unable to tell the terrain of the environment it is in before it's too late, which is demonstrated when Earl and Val trick one into running into a concrete wall, and when Val tricks another into running off of a cliff.

Hunting and intelligence

Graboids are shown to be ravenous carnivores, always on the hunt for food. Indiscriminate eaters, their diet includes but is not limited to sheep, cattle, horses, donkeys, coyotes, and even humans. They are known to be cannibalistic when the opportunity presents itself; El Blanco consumed an ass-blaster in "Tremors 3". Lacking eyes or a nose, they're shown to hunt by sensing seismic vibrations which are produced by sounds and movements (such as walking). Because they are unable to tell the difference between edible and inedible vibration sources they adopt a policy of "eat first, ask questions later," simply swallowing whatever sets off their vibration sensors and regurgitating anything that does not taste good. Inedible objects can be spat out with amazing force, being propelled high into the air. Due to the sensitive hearing they use for underground navigation, graboids are so sensitive to sound they "must" retreat from loud explosions, which cause them great pain due to sensory overload.

Graboids are ambush predators, preferring to sneak up on their quarry, though they are shown to chase it down with great determination. They erupt from the ground and use their tentacles to ensnare prey, pulling them into their mouth (sometimes only the tentacles break the surface). The tentacles wrap around the prey, biting into its flesh or hooking the prey with their horn-like spikes. When the prey attempts to flee by climbing (for instance onto the roof of a house or car), graboids will simply dig away the earth under the hiding place, undermining it until it collapses or sinks low enough to allow the graboid to pluck off the hiding prey. When they are unable to break down the prey's hiding spot, the undaunted graboids will continue circling it like sharks until it ceases making vibrations. Usually they wait so long the prey dies of dehydration or starvation, i.e. several days.

Graboids are highly intelligent, possessing memory and the ability to learn. For instance, in the first "Tremors" movie the characters successfully killed a graboid by having it swallow homemade dynamite. The second graboid (nicknamed "Stumpy" by Val) had apparently noticed this trap and simply regurgitated the dynamite. There are plenty of other examples, for instance when the characters escaped on a bulldozer which was too big to be toppled (weighing 30 tons) or undermined (it could drive away before the graboids had a chance to dig away enough of the dirt under it), the creatures simply dug a trap in its path.

El Blanco

In "Tremors 3" and the following TV series, an albino graboid named El Blanco was featured. El Blanco was believed to be sterile; he was unable to produce shriekers. The lifespan of El Blanco (and other sterile graboids) is unknown, but the time between "Tremors 3" (2001) and the TV series (2003) indicates at least two years.

While El Blanco was initially believed to have a soft spot for graboid hunter Burt Gummer, it was later discovered that this was only because of Burt's new watch (which utilized high pitched frequencies). El Blanco has been sighted numerous times outside Burt's compound in Perfection without bothering to attack, and Gummer has also been known to tease the graboid with a remote control truck with watches strapped to it.

El Blanco actually saved Burt's life by eating an ass-blaster that was carrying his watch. In the movie, El Blanco never managed to eat any humans, though he did corner real estate agent Melvin Plug on a boulder at the end of the film. In the TV series, any villains that appeared ended up being either consumed or arrested. It also proved that even when restrained, his tentacles were long enough to capture prey at certain distances. At one point Tyler Reed, Rosalita and Larry fought off a group of a bad guys that were after El Blanco. During the fight Larry managed to drive one backwards and El Blanco killed her, sending out his tentacles even while restrained and eating her. In this instance he probably saved the three's life and the other criminal ran away, was picked up and apparently killed.

El Blanco shares many traits with the normal colored graboids, such as the unearthly patience, three mouth tentacles, ability to hunt by sensing sound, and the aversion to running into a rock wall. However, one aspect he has that other graboids don't (probably because of the unnatural length of his life span) is his ability to become "full" after grazing on a herd of wild burro or other creatures. This is evidenced by Burt saying "He found a herd of wild burro this morning. He should be mellow for a few days."

El Blanco is also notably one of the few graboids that has ever actually "survived" a meeting with Burt Gummer. This is because El Blanco is an endangered species. Because of this, Perfection Valley is a protected habitat, and developer Melvin Plug cannot build any land there. He once tried to solve this by stealing a machine that increases the hunger response so that Burt would kill El Blanco in self-defense. But Burt destroyed the machine while trying to distract El Blanco, who attacked Chang's Market. El Blanco seems to be Perfection's mascot as he attracts many tourists; in addition, the population doesn't seem to mind the creature lurking their ground often as they treat it as a daily routine. According to Jodi, El Blanco tunnels through Perfection about "once or twice a day."


The shrieker ("Caederus mexicana supersonia") is a fictional species in the "Tremors" series of films. It appeared in "", "Tremors 3" and several episodes of the "Tremors" TV series. It is the second life cycle stage of the creatures featured in the series; the graboid being the first and the ass-blaster being the next and final. The shrieker could be seen as a kind of nymph.

The name "shrieker" was given to the creatures by the special effects crew of "Tremors 2" and later introduced to the audience in "Tremors 3".


Unlike their previous incarnations, the huge, subterranean and limbless graboids, shriekers live on the surface. Much smaller than graboids, shriekers are about 5 feet (1.50 m) long and 4 feet (1.20 m) tall. While graboids are worm-like in shape, shriekers slightly resemble dinosaurs or heavy ground-dwelling birds, having stout, three-toed legs and a compact body. They also have a short, stump-like tail. This tail, as well as some small bulges in the neck, has some orange coloring on it. Its function is unknown. The one thing that shows shriekers are related to graboids is their skull- just like a graboid's, it consists of a powerful, beak-like armored upper jaw and a much narrower lower jaw surrounded by two mandibles. Both the jaws and the mandibles have sharp hooks and serrations, ideal to hold on to prey. The beak is very powerful; shriekers are capable of ripping through sheet metal with ease. While graboids have three prehensile tentacles for tongues, complete with jaws, shriekers have more normal tongues: singular ones lacking jaws. Like a graboid's, the tongue is relatively stiff (for a tongue). It can be stretched out approximately 3 feet (90 cm) and has some short bristles on it, not unlike the tongue of a cat.

The shriekers' most notable feature is their heat sensor, a brain-like pulsating organ atop their head which is usually covered by a frill-like flap of skin, which is supported by a small ridge at the base of the skull. Using this sensor, shriekers sense infrared heat. They have no eyes, ears, or noses. As shown by shots in "Tremors 2" depicting the creatures' point of view, the heat sensed by the shriekers is apparently processed into an image highly similar to that of an infrared camera. They apparently lost their weakness to distinguish the terrain of their environment, but instead they are far more vulnerable because of their size.

Shriekers are much easier to kill than graboids, being smaller, surface-dwelling and more easily damaged by firearms- it may be for this reason that they hunt as a group. Like graboids, shriekers have orange blood and quite likely share the same foul odor.

Shriekers serve a single purpose in their short life, to eat and create more shriekers. More shriekers would mean that more ass-blasters would be produced, and more eggs would be created, thus more graboids would be born.

Hunting and intelligence

Unlike the solitary graboids, shriekers are pack hunters, using their numbers to bring down large prey. In "Tremors 2", the Graboids spawned three Shriekers per worm. For some reason this changes in Tremors 3, in which Burt explains that one Graboid can spawn six from itself. They are able to hunt in packs, for a special ability they have. By eating sufficient foods of any kind and getting enough to eat, they have the ability to multiply. The creatures are hermaphrodites, being able to double in number every few minutes. In "Tremors 3", the six Shriekers were able to spawn an entire herd of them under 12 hours. Sensing heat, they let out loud screams (earning their name). While the sound is useless (as they are deaf) they produce a lot of heat when screaming, alerting each other to the presence of prey. Another thing unexplained in the films is the shriekers' ability to "see" heat "before" raising the frill covering their heat sensor; they always seem to know when to raise it. It is explained on the Stampede Entertainment FAQ that they can see "some" heat through the frills. Raising them merely enables them to make full use of the obviously delicate sensory organ, similar to opening one's eyes widely. In an episode of Tremors the TV Series, Shriekers were being trained by a government agency to use their heat-seeking organs to locate people in disaster areas. However, these test subjects proved to be too much for the government agents and scientist to handle, and eventually went on a rampage. Within hours they multiplied from 3 individual shriekers to 40.

While hunting, shriekers show some good feats of insight and cooperation, using each other to form natural ladders to reach prey hiding on high ground such as rooftops.

Graboids, hunting by vibrations, often attack inedible objects, and the heat-seeking shriekers are no different. They have been observed attempting to eat warm car engines, electronic cables and steamed clothes.

Shriekers also feed on cold objects which they find by dragging their tongue over the ground. They have been observed eating military rations, and could possibly also feed on plants, which would make them omnivores.


The ass-blaster ("Caederus mexicana combustus") is a fictional species in the "Tremors" series of films. It is the third and final stage of the life-cycle including the graboid and shrieker. The ass-blaster appears in "Tremors 3" and an episode of the TV series. It is named in "Tremors 3" by Jodi Chang (Susan Chuang), the niece of Walter Chang, who named the graboids in the original "Tremors".


Also like shriekers, ass-blasters have bird-like legs ending in three-toed feet, and their feet have three slender black talons. The ass-blasters' most striking features are their wings – they have red/pink-colored sail-like structures at the back of their bodies, consisting of a semi-translucent skin supported by rigid stems. A third dorsal sail extends from the spine down the back and tail. Ass-blasters use these wings to glide through the air. In order to take off, they produce an explosion from their rear end, earning them their name. This is achieved by mixing two chemicals near their colon (by shaking their hind quarters). Creature Designers Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis borrowed this design from the real life Bombardier Beetle. The mix explodes upon exposure to air, launching the creature into the air. The ass-blaster also learns at an extreme rate and can easily comprehend how to use its natural means of transportation as a torch, such as when one attempted to melt through a fire door in "Tremors 3". Ass-blasters have been known to spontaneously combust when accidentally poked with sharp flaming objects. An ass-blaster's weakness is they make easier targets being slow on the ground and open in the air.

Like the other life cycle stages, ass-blasters have orange blood.

Hunting and intelligence

Ass-blasters hunt like birds of prey, scanning the ground for prey while gliding on hot air currents. Their heat sensors are much wider than shriekers', allowing them to view large sections of land at the same time. Judging from shots in "Tremors 3" depicting the ass-blasters' point of view the heat they sense is processed into an infrared-camera-like image, just like how shriekers see the world. An ass-blaster's heat vision is much more detailed than a shrieker's, actually being able to distinguish faint evidence of facial expressions. Like the other creatures, ass-blasters are also attracted to inedible heat sources such as fires.

For reasons unexplained in the film, unlike their previous form Shriekers, an ass-blaster will slip into a coma after eating, instead of multiplying.

Like the other life cycle stages, ass-blasters are intelligent, capable of learning from their mistakes. When several ass-blasters were blown up by being shot with burning spears fired from a makeshift potato gun in "Tremors 3", one ass-blaster quickly learned to dodge these projectiles.

Life cycle

Graboids are hatched from eggs laid by ass-blasters (the final stage in the life cycle), as indicated in "Tremors 3". These eggs split open diagonally. Carbon dating has shown that the eggs can lay dormant for at least 300 years, explaining why graboid sightings are rare and random. As shown in "Tremors 4", the hatching of the eggs is prompted by warmth- in "Tremors 4" hatched eggs were found in a hot spring.

Baby graboids are 4 feet (1.2 m) long and are much shorter and compact in comparison to the adults, but already have the typical set of jaws and mandibles. The baby graboids also have a row of armoured scales on their backs for protection, which are shed before they fully mature.Like adults, they have large spikes used for digging; extra large rows of spikes sprout from the sides of their body. Being smaller than the adults, baby graboids are able to hurl themselves out of the dirt to tackle prey, like "some kind of demonic trout", according to Hiram Gummer. Their tentacles are underdeveloped at this point in their life cycle.

Upon maturing, graboids will resume attacking and consuming prey. After that, they will seek a secluded spot where they will metamorphose. Three to six shriekers will emerge from their body where they have been growing in large sacks, killing the graboid. Upon emerging, shriekers will search for food. Having eaten a sufficient amount of food, shriekers will spit out a cocoon containing a mini version of themselves. This ability to reproduce asexually allows them to greatly expand their numbers over a short period of time, although it is unknown whether a shrieker can produce more than one clone. The newborn shrieker is fully developed, about 10 inches (25 cm) long and starts growing right after birth.

When a shrieker is around 24 hours old, it will undergo a molting process, turning into an ass-blaster. Ass-blasters can live up to several years (an individual sold to Siegfried and Roy in "Tremors 3" was still alive two years later). They attack anything warm. While shriekers reproduce asexually when they have fed enough, ass-blasters, slip into a coma when they eat a large amount of food. They "can" reproduce, however – each ass-blaster carries a graboid egg in its gut. Because they cover large distances when flying, they can carry these eggs further away, as theorized by Jodi Chang in "Tremors 3".


From where or what the graboids originate is intentionally kept very vague; the creators of the film were unconcerned with this detail, offering no explanation as to where the graboids came from in the original film (wanting to avoid the typical clichés of the monster movie genre). The main characters even satirize this convention by attempting to guess where they came from—outer space, nuclear mutations, genetic engineering, and prehistory are all offered up as possible explanations.

The answer was revealed in "Tremors 2", when a fossil graboid spike was discovered and dated back to the Precambrian - the graboids are apparently from earth, or have at least existed on earth for a very long time. Strangely, no prey large enough for graboids to eat existed on the land at all. A write-up written by the SciFi channel for "Tremors: The Series" rectified this by saying the fossil was incorrectly dated and actually from the Devonian period, though they don't rule out a possible extraterrestrial origin.

Though they resemble worms, in "Tremors 3" the United States Department of the Interior calls them "desert reptilians", while an elaborate write-up on the SciFi channel's "Tremors: The Series" homepage (written in the style of a report by the Department of the Interior) classified them as cephalopods based on their intelligence, beaks and tentacles. [ [ SCIFI.COM | Tremors ] ]

ee also

* Sandworm (Dune)
* Mongolian Death Worm


External links

* ("Tremors") "Monster Guide": :* [ Introduction]
:* [ External Anatomy]
:* [ Internal Anatomy]
:* [ Ecology]
:* [ Evolutionary Overview]
:* [ Hypothetical Taxonomy]
:* [ Historical and Mythological References] :* [ Threat Assessment]

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