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An illustration by Greg Broadmore of Terapusmordax in The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island
Alternate names Pungent Bat, Terapus Mordax[1][2][3], Mordaxes
Species Terapusmordax obscenus[4]
Wingspan 8-10 feet[4]
Enemies King Kong, Skin-birds
Created by Peter Jackson, Greg Broadmore, Weta Workshop
First appearance King Kong (2005)

Terapusmordax obscenus, more commonly referred to as Terapusmordax, is a species of flying rodent that appeared in the 2005 Universal Pictures film, King Kong.


The name "Terapusmordax" means "pungent-bat," while its species name, "Terapusmordax obscenus", means "filthy pungent-bat."[4] The name "Terapusmordax" was coined in-universe by Jack Driscoll after noting their stench and pulling from the Latin he had learned at school.[5] They are referred to as "Mordaxes" by Kate McCaffrey in the Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride, despite its events taking place before the film.

Throughout production of the film the Terapusmordax was nameless, known only as "bat-creature" or "bat-thing," and most tie-in media uses the aforementioned descriptors, if it is named at all.[6]


Terapusmordax superficially resembles a naked mole rat with bat wings and sharp teeth and claws. Its skin is very thin and almost translucent.[4]


The Terapusmordax was created to fill the role of the Pteranodon from the original King Kong, and was developed from the Bat Creatures from Peter Jackson's attempted 1996 remake. It was designed by Weta Workshop team members including Greg Broadmore, Christian Pearce, and Warren Mahy, with Broadmore later finalizing the design.

Christian Pearce, one of the designers of the Terapusmordax, describes his experience designing the flying rodent as "fun," saying that "You could just try anything you wanted."

Though early discussions involving using naked mole rats, which would become the basis of the final design's skin,[7] there was a period where Weta Workshop did not know the final brief from Peter Jackson, leading to many pterosaur-inspired designs.

During this period, artist Greg Broadmore also created a flying mammal that had a "vulgar" upright posture.[8] After the brief came in that Jackson wanted to stray away from pterosaur designs for what would become the Terapusmordax, Broadmore created another pterosaur design he dubbed "Uglor" that had a Hornbill inspired crest and a bony emaciated look.[9] "Uglor" would later be reworked into the Foeducrista in The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island.[4]

Jackson requested the Terapusmordax to be "as gross as possible".[10] Pearce recalls that Jackson specifically wanted the creature to look infected with its skin bearing diseases and a "disgusting wetness to it" as well as batlike wings, large enough to pick a human being up, and a humanoid shape. For his drawings, Pearce referenced photos of young Siamese short-haired cats, earthworms, and naked mole rats. [7] Concept artist Warren Mahy notably created a winged simian design inspired by naked mole rats with a prehensile tail and a beak.[11] Mahy worked "out of town" during the design process of the Terapusmordax, but kept in touch with the designers at Weta Workshop. Pearce said of this relationship "we'd get a shipment from him every couple of days: 'Oh, my goodness! Look, what he was thinking! Let's steal some of those ideas.' And he'd get ours and some of those ideas would trigger things in him too. It was right towards the end of the creature design process. We were all fighting to get our little bits into [the Terapusmordax]. I think a bit of all of us ended up in it."[7]

Not all designs were entirely practical in the biological sense. One such design had the wings located in the hind legs of the creature, a design choice that Pearce recalls caused a bit of an uproar among some of the zoologists at Weta, but he justified the design saying "we were just putting everything out there, trying new things to see what catches Peter's eye." Greg Broadmore has stated the "most preposterous" design he had created for what would become the flying rodent had a "big, gross belly" which Broadmore thought "was kind of funny" but "made it less likely as a flying creature." This lead to the creature becoming thinner throughout the design process.[7] Jackson then stated that he wanted the flying creatures to have traits of the sphinx cat, which Jackson liked due to the excess skin they bear.[1][2]

Many rejected designs for the Terapusmordax would be reused for other creatures in the artbook The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island.


Despite superficially resembling a mixture of a bat and a naked mole rat, Terapusmordax belonged to a family of flying rodents named Volucerattidae, which also contained Voluceritis and the Howlers. Terapusmordax, in particular, was the largest of the family.[4]


Terapusmordax lived in Matriarchal colonies numbering in the hundreds. The females, which produced testosterone, would grow to incredible sizes. The females lived in their own colonies and raised their young while satellite colonies of males were never far away. Being naturally solitary, and only nesting together, the constant fighting between males led to infected bites and scratches. Females protected their colonies voraciously from males, as they would often attempt to kill the pups to allow their mothers to become available for breeding. Male Terapusmordax pups were driven out of the nest at a young age, and they would often kill one another to reduce competition for resources later on. Young male Terapusmordax were also easy prey for other predators. Terapusmordax were omnivores, and ate mainly lizards, young dinosaurs plucked from the jungle floor, and fruit. They did most of their hunting in flight, and often preyed on Vulturesaurus.


King Kong (2005)

A swarm of Terapusmordax was awakened by King Kong in the ape's lair when Kong found Jack Driscoll attempting to rescue Ann Darrow from him. The Terapusmordax proceeded to attack Kong, which allowed Ann to become free from the great ape's hold on her. As she and Jack escaped by climbing down a nearby vine by the cliff's edge, Kong began pulling the vine up towards him with several Terapusmordax circling around the fleeing humans, but Jack grabbed hold of the wing of an attacking Terapusmordax and escaped with Ann. Several of the flying rodents followed them until Jack and Ann fall into a river below.



With light and strong bones, Terapusmordax had good eyesight and were excellent flyers. They were quite maneuverable for their size, being able to tip and roll in the air in pursuit of one another or winged prey.

Chemical excrement

Their excrement was notably repugnant, containing chemicals that were so strong that in sufficient quantities would induce burning nostrils and watery eyes. Despite the dung littering the floors of the caves they inhabited and their bellies being caked with it, the Terapusmordax was unaffected by the horrible smell of their dung. This might have been developed as a defense mechanism, as it drove away predators from their colonies.[4]

Strong feet

Terapusmordax feet are used for hunting and hanging upside down from cave roofs, like a bat.[7]

Video games


King Kong (2005)

While climbing up a tall mountain on the back of Kong, Ann Darrow was frightened by a single jackal-like Terapusmordax with an 8 or so foot wingspan that flew a bit too close for comfort. Later, as Jack Driscoll came to rescue her, he passed under a group of foul-smelling Terapusmordax that began stirring as he made his way through. He dubbed them Terapusmordax, or "pungent-bat" based on his schooling in Latin, and their horrible stench. Although Kong was sleeping, the creatures were interested in the new creatures that had arrived, and began circling the cliff. Kong eventually awoke, and two Terapusmordax tried to carry her off, but were killed by Kong. The rest of the pack then attacked by landing on his back and swarming around him. Eventually, after many casualties, the beasts retreated. However, still interested in the smaller prey, a bat swooped close to Darrow and Driscoll as they dangled from a vine on the cliffside. Driscoll then grabbed its ankles, making it slowly sink in the air despite its protesting flaps. Eventually the two let go, and the Terapusmordax flew off.

King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World

While sleeping at night on the roof of Kong's cave lair, a pack of Terapusmordax were awoken by the movement of Jack Driscoll as he attempted to rescue Ann Darrow from the gargantuan ape. The creatures swarmed Kong, while one grabbed Ann and attempted to fly away with her, but Kong slammed it into the ground, freeing her. Kong continued this practice of smashing the Terapusmordax, while a few individuals continued their pursuit of the humans. one flew too close and was grabbed by Driscoll, who, with Ann in tow, rode the weighed down beast as it entered a controlled fall into the river below, where they let go of its leg. As they turned around in the water to face the mountain, they saw swarms of Terapusmordax flying out into the night.


Skull Island: Reign of Kong

In the years before Denham's journey to Skull Island, the Terapusmordax menaced Eighth Wonder Expeditions as they traversed the island's massive caverns enough to earn them the name "Mordaxes," translating roughly to bite, cut, or burn. Three of them hung upside down to the right of the expeditionary vehicle for Team 2, which had been dispatched to provide backup to Team 1 in an island cave. They flapped and hissed at the explorers. Moments later, Team 1 stirred three of them, and a whole flock of smaller “flying rats,” by launching a flare deeper into the cave. They menaced the both teams, and one nearly flew away with expedition member Joe, but he was freed from its grasp by expedition leader Kate McCaffery, who grabbed hold of Joe’s legs, and used her weight to free him from its grasp. One of the other Mordaxes then grabs her instead. It carried her into one of the island’s bug-ridden mud pits, where she was finally able to slash it with her knife, and get it to drop her. The Mordax, possibly wounded, ended up stuck in the mud, and was promptly devoured by a Carnictis.


Terapusumordax roars and sound effects in the 2005 film
Giant Terapusumordax roars and sound effects in Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie


Main article: Terapusmordax/Gallery.


This is a list of references for Terapusmordax. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 (August 28, 2007) Feeding the Kong family. Archived from the original.
  2. 2.0 2.1 (June 12, 2007) Skull Island Runty. Retrieved from the original.
  3. (April 11, 2007) New Kongcept Artwork Wtea Holics. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Falconer, Daniel, Weta Workshop (22 November 2005). The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island. Pocket Star. p. 72, 198-199. ISBN 978-1-4165-0519-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Golden, Christopher (13 December 2005). King Kong. Pocket Star Books. p. 311. ISBN 978-1-4165-0391-0.
  6. Commentary track for King Kong (2005), Scene 44 "Rescuing Ann"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Wake, Jenny. (December 13, 2005) The Making of King Kong: The Official Guide to the Motion Picture, p. 153-154. Pocket Books. ISBN-10: 1416505180. 978-1416505181.
  8. (June 7, 2007) Flying Dogs and Kong. Weta Holics. Archived from the original on July 13, 2007.
  9. (July 4, 2007) Uglor the Great. Weta Holics. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008.
  10. (November 16, 2007) As Gross As Possible. Archived from the original on October 16, 2008.
  11. (May 10, 2007) Naked Mole Rat gets props. Archived from the orginal on July 1, 2007.


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