While Nudriks are widely considered the greatest pests of the Silver Spiral Galaxy, the chittering, disease-ridden Crattlers are often considered contenders for that position. The similarity in the spread of both species has often made galactic citizens question whether space-travel is really worth enabling these beings to move from planet to planet. Crattlers are small rodentesque animals measuring 15 to 17 centimeters in length from snout to tail-tip. The are generally quadrupedal, but are known to utilize their forepaws for manipulation of their environment and defense. Their most distinctive feature is their large, oversized snouts that resembles a crushing beak wrapped in a layer of fur with distinctive striping.
The Crattler snout is not a beak, but rather an incredibly densely-muscled jaw that is able of reaching a bite force of up to 1,500 PSI. The distinctive muscle at the top of the jaw is what allows the lower jaw to be “snapped” up, providing the biting motion. The upper jaw in mastication remains completely still, rather the lower jaw contacts due to a muscle twitch. In a sense, rather than bite down, Crattlers bite up. Additionally, their biting motion bares more of a similarity to an underside sawing as the lower jaw is layers with rows of tiny, blade-like teeth. Crattler eyes, unusually for a predatory species, are located on the sides of their heads as the snout is so large front-facing eyes would be obscured constantly. Crattlers’ strong neck muscles allow them to twitch their heads constantly as they move, allowing them to take in their surroundings. This twitching motion has another side-effect, causing a rattling sound as their teeth, which they shed near constantly, rattle around in the pronounced jaw cavity. A Crattler generally goes through 10-20 teeth in a day, which grow back within a week. This constant tooth loss is associated with the forceful snap and sawing of the jaw.
Crattlers are generally scavengers and have found a great success in living in the refuse of modern society. However, this exposure to refuse also makes them exceedingly common vectors for disease and illness. Crattler bites are generally associated with the phenomenon of Crattler’s fever, or more commonly known as “the cratts.” This disease varies between species, but for most there is a painful infection and heavy fever. This, of course, is a topic deserving of its own discussion for another time.
Areas of death and decay are often major sites of Crattler activity as the species has a particular interest in scavenging corpses. During the aftermath of some battles in the Dividing War, Crattler populations swarming battlefields were suggested to be so large that the areas resembled a churning sea of fur and teeth. Crattlers are particularly common in tombs and graveyards as well. Naturally, all of the exposure to decay and rot contributes to their reputation as disease-vectors.
Sizes of Crattlers vary depending on the diet and competition. Most are small, around 15 centimeters, but far larger sizes have been documented. Some Crattlers have been found measuring in at just over a meter in length in areas with a great deal of wilderness and few natural predators. There have been recorded sightings of far larger Crattlers, some even up to 1-5 to 2.5 meters. However, the largest Crattler ever slain, on record, is stored in the Bovari Planetary Museum of Bovari III. These giant Crattlers have led to the curiosity of spacer and colonial stories concerning Werecratts, or giant, sentient and bipedal Crattlers. No such evidence of Werecratts exist, but generally the further out one travels from the core systems the more likely one is to hear tales about Werecratts in the woods on dark, silent nights.