The Bandersnatch (plural bandersnatchi) is an extraterrestrial species in Larry Niven's fictional Known Space universe. The species is named for Lewis Carroll's Bandersnatch.

Niven's first story to discuss the Bandersnatchi was World of Ptavvs, published in 1966.[1] That story relates the way that they were named as follows: Template:PQuote

Frumious bandersnatch are a herd animal. They are completely white, and resemble a very large slug with smooth, slick skin. From the front, a brontosaur-like neck, with no head, extends about as high as the bandersnatch's body. The tip is thick and rounded, entirely featureless, other than two tufts of black bristles (sense organs). The large mouth at the bottom, above the belly foot, is almost invisible when closed. The large mouth is adapted to scooping the Bandersnatchi's food, a form of mutated yeast, out of the shallow ocean-like colonies that the yeast live in.

Bandersnatchi are one giant cell. They have a single, long, thick chromosome. Their nerves are similar in structures to that of a human but, have no cell body, no nuclei, nothing to separate them from other specialized protoplasm. The Bandersnatchi have 6 large hearts, each weighing about 11 pounds. They asexually reproduce by budding. The brain is large, shaped long and narrow, and is encased in a bone shell. The skull is one end of the jointless, flexible, very strong cage of bone. This keeps them from ever shifting position.

The Bandersnatchi, also known as Whitefoods during the Thrintun empire (~1.5 billion BCE) were originally created by the Tnuctipun as a food source for the Thrintun. They were designed to have a nearly irresistible taste to the predatory Thrintun--especially the brain, which was a particular delicacy, and so the Thrintun had no objection to it being made as large as possible. The Tnuctipun led the Thrintun to believe that the Bandersnatchi possessed no intelligence, for they were resistant to the Power (the telepathic mind control ability of the Thrintun, used to enslave other races). The Bandersnatchi were, in fact, sentient, and were used by the Tnuctipun to spy on the Thrintun until the slave revolution. This immunity to the Thrintun psychic abilities also allowed them to survive the mass-suicide command used at the end of the Tnuctipun-Thrintun war.

Because their chromosomes are so large, they are virtually unaffected by radiation. Therefore they do not mutate, and hence cannot evolve. Whereas the other sentient races of known space rose from the Slaver yeast colonies upon which the Bandersnatchi feed, the Bandersnatchi have remained unchanged for the past 2 billion years.

The majority of Bandersnatchi in Known Space live on Jinx, but colonies of them are scattered throughout the galaxy, including the planet Beanstalk and the 'Maps of Jinx' in the Great Oceans of the Ringworld.

Bandersnatchi have developed an unusual trading relationship with the humans living on Jinx. Since they possess no tool-making abilities, bandersnatchi allow themselves to be hunted by adventurous (and often foolhardy) humans in exchange for specialized tools and devices, such as mechanical 'arms' specifically designed for their massive bodies. Along with Grogs and Dolphins, Bandersnatchi are described as a "Handicapped" (with a capital "H") race, in that they are sentient but do not possess any prehensile limbs.


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