The Hunger Games Mutts Explained: All Variants & Origin
The Mutts (AKA Muttations) are hybrid creatures found in The Hunger Games saga, appearing in the arena to terrorize tributes. Alongside X-Men: First Class, the original Hunger Games is one of the movies that made Jennifer Lawrence into a star. Lawrence plays protagonist Katniss Everdeen in the series, who becomes a symbol of rebellion after surviving the 74th Hunger Games, a televised game of death. The movies were based on the best-selling book series by author Suzanne Collins.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire found Katniss forced into a new game, but the final two installments focused on efforts to overthrow the Capital and the evil President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland. The movies were hugely successful and kicked off a trend of YA adaptations, including The Maze Runner and Divergent. The Hungers Games did a great job of world-building, with Panem feeling like a real place. Animal hybrids dubbed Mutts existed in the world of Panem too, which were used by the Capital both in the games and occasionally as weapons against rebels.
One of the first mutts created in the novels was the jabberjay, a bird created to spy on the population of Panem. Jabberjays are capable of recounting entire conversations, but once the people who were spied upon realized how they were being used, the birds lost their usefulness. Before they died out they mated with female mockingbirds, creating the Mockingjay bird, which existed in the wild. Both birds get a mention in the first Hunger Games movie, but their skills are seen, or rather heard, later.
The Hunger Games arenas differ in each game, and in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the birds are used within the arena itself. The contestants hear the cries of those they care about, actually produced by the birds, to cause them anguish in the arena, leaving Katniss and Finnick (Sam Claflin) to wonder how the gamemakers got the sounds for the birds to mimic.
After Katniss was gifted a Mockingjay pin, the bird later became Katniss’s symbol in the games and the rebellion itself. Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) even designed Katniss’ dress during the opening ceremonies to resemble a Mockingjay after it flamed, also earning her the moniker of “girl on fire.” The Mockingjay was a symbol in the First Rebellion, and the new rebels co-opted it as a result of Katniss seen wearing it.
These nasty little creatures are wasps capable of vicious stings that can cause severe swelling, hallucinations, and death. They earned their nickname because they will track and kill anyone that disturbs their nest. Their nests are particularly large, and if disturbed, they do not hesitate to swarm after those people or animals near them. Katniss avoids their nests in the arena in the first Hunger Games movie until she has to cut one of the nests down to use as a weapon against the Career tributes. Katniss ends up with severe stings from her efforts, but Glimmer (Leven Rambin) loses her life when the tracker jackers sting her repeatedly.
The Wolf Mutts are a deadly threat in the original Hunger Games and are released by the Capital to make the game more exciting. The Hunger Games book uses the wolf mutts slightly differently. They were designed to look like fallen tributes – right down to the human-like eyes. The effect unnerves Katniss and makes her hesitate when encountering them in the finale of the Games with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Cato (Alexander Ludwig). The movie does away with this design, where they instead resemble hulking dogs with vicious claws and teeth.
These baboon-like creatures are used in the 75th Hunger Games, or the Quarter Quell, of Catching Fire. The monkeys attack the tributes on the beach early in the game. Their claws come out like switch-blades and their bites are lethal enough to cause internal bleeding. The group of tributes discovers this when a District 6 Morphling saves Peeta’s life, allowing the monkeys to attack her instead.
Probably the most famous – and terrifying – breed is the Lizard Mutt. These creatures appear in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 and are sent into the sewers after Katniss and her squad when they are trying to make their way to the Capitol. These eyeless mutts are a combination of human and reptile DNA and attack in unrelenting waves. They are responsible for the deaths of most of the squad, including Finnick.
Finnick gets a slightly more merciful death in the movie. In the book, one of the mutts rips his head from his body, but in the movie, when he is overwhelmed by the mutts, Katniss activates an explosive so that Finnick’s death in Mockingjay is faster and less painful.
Snake mutts do not appear in the original trilogy of Hunger Games novels. They are, however, a pivotal addition to the prequel Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Dr. Gaul creates them to have little vision, but to have an even better sense of smell than the average snake. If the snake doesn’t recognize the scent of someone, they will attack them.
This is demonstrated when Dr. Gaul tests the snakes with a piece of coursework submitted by future Hunger Games President Coriolanus Snow and a classmate. The classmate is attacked by the snake because their scent isn’t on the coursework, indicating Snow did all the work himself. They’re also used against the tributes in the Hunger Games in which Snow first acts as a mentor.
A rabbit crossed with a pit bull would be an interesting animal. That’s exactly what Dr. Gaul experiments with while developing new muttations. She details that her experimental mutt has the jaw strength of a pit bull, but the jumping abilities of a rabbit. While she frequently has one with her while talking to the mentors of the Hunger Games tributes like Snow in Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a rabbit mutt isn’t used against the tributes.
Other Mutts In The Hunger Games
A lot of the muttations created in the world of Hunger Games’ Panem only appear in brief mentions in the novels instead of making their way to the screen. Most of these mentions occur in Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the previous victors are able to trade stories about their experiences. There are also several mutts in the arena of Catching Fire that aren’t used in the movie.
There is a discussion of carnivorous squirrels that attack in packs that were used in the 50th Hunger Games, for example. Most of the mutts mentioned, however, are insects, like swarming crickets and grasshoppers with sharp pincers. Butterflies that sting and whose venom can cause death are mentioned as well as muttation gnats. There are also “candy pink” birds that have beaks that can pierce the skin and cause serious injuries.
Peeta also has a run-in with a muttation he references as The Beast in the Catching Fire novel. There aren’t specifics about what kind of animals were used to create the Hunger Games monster, but it’s incredibly large and strong. Peeta mentions that it literally rips apart one of the tributes in the arena. When Peeta is held prisoner in the Capitol, he is also conditioned to believe that Katniss is a mutation, driving a wedge between them. The idea does raise the question of whether the Capitol scientists of the Hunger Games franchise would be able to create human muttations as well, and whether the audience could see that play out in a future story.
Next: Will Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes Be Enough To Win Back Hunger Games Fans?