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Carcass Sleeping Bag

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What's the internal temperature of a tauntaun? Luke-warm!

"And I thought they smelled bad... on the outside!"

An explorer is lost in the freezing Wild Wilderness or in an arctic region. He's far from shelter and there's a snowstorm blowing in and it will soon be too dark to see. His packmule is shivering and clearly on its last legs. He has no immediate shelter, no way to make a fire... and he realizes that there is only one possible course of action.

He shoots his poor mule, cuts open her abdomen, and crawls into her body cavity, hoping the heat from the body and shelter from the thick hide will be enough to get him through the night... or at least, until he can be rescued. When rescuers find the explorer, he is covered in the entrails and blood of the dead animal but is alive. A variant is for the hero to hide in a dead animal's entrails to elude a search party and search dogs.

The animal may be a horse, bison or buffalo. In fantasy, it may be a dragon or other mythical creature. In science fiction, it may be an alien creature or beast.

Compare Nemean Skinning and Genuine Human Hide.


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    Film — Live-Action 
  • There is a scene in As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me (2001), where in cold Russian winter a German soldier hunts down and kills a seal, slits it open and puts his freezing foot in.
  • Grim Prairie Tales: When warning Deeds about how cold the nights get, Morrison tells him a story about how he almost froze to death in Cherokee territory and only survived by killing a buffalo and crawling inside it.
  • The New Land: When Karl-Oskar and his son Johan are caught out in the open as a blizzard hits Minnesota, the boy eventually collapses. Karl-Oskar saves Johan's life by slicing open the ox that was pulling their cart and stuffing Johan inside while he goes to get help.
  • In The Revenant, Hugh Glass cuts open the carcass of his horse (that got killed when they went over a cliff) to hide and sleep for one night.
  • In Rob Roy, the hero hides in a dead cow, but it's to throw off his pursuers and their tracker dogs.
  • Seraphim Falls: Gideon hides out in his dead horse's belly to ambush two pursuers.
  • The one everyone remembers, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when Han keeps Luke from freezing to death on Hoth by hiding him in the body of his tauntaun. Worth noting, the tauntaun dies from the cold rather than Han slicing it open; and Han mentions setting up a shelter, so it's clearly a short term solution.

  • The Future is Wild: Bumblebeetle larvae inhabit flish carcasses both for food and protection from the dryness of the desert.
  • Used in James Follett's novel and radio play Ice. When the heroine is unconscious and in danger of freezing to death, one of the guys accompanying her, who happens to be a whale expert, locates a blue whale and gets another guy to help him cut a 5-foot hole in its skin (the equivalent of a gnat-bite to us). The hole fills with warm blood and they immerse her in it. When she wakes up they have a lot of explaining to do.
  • In Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Chronicles, Jakkin and Akki survive the brutal Austorian night by sheltering in the recently-slain body of his beloved dragon.
  • In The Prism Pentad at one point our heroes shelter in the carcass of a huge bear and use their powers to make it seems alive in order to sneak into a Giants' fortress.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Tormund Giantsbane claims to have once been caught in a storm, and resorted to cutting open a dead giantess and hiding inside her. Said giantess turns out to be alive and when she wakes up, she thinks Tormund is her baby and nurses him (hence, Tormund Giantsbabe). This is Tormund, however.
  • In "To Build a Fire", a short by Jack London, a man attempts to kill his sled dog with the intention of warming his hands in the entrails. It doesn't work because by then his hands are too frozen to keep hold on the animal, as well as the dog is becoming wary, instinctively realizing that something is wrong.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Dinosaur Revolution, a troodon lives through the immediate destruction of the K-T impact, but the suddenly-frigid climate kills its mate and eggs. Wandering in a frozen wood, it finds the carcass of a large predator, and curls up in its open mouth to shelter from the snowfall.
  • Referenced on an episode of Happy Endings, where Jane and Max have a contest to see who would fare best in a Zombie Apocalypse. At one point Max brags to Jane that "I am using your body as a sleeping bag, tauntaun style."
  • In an episode of Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls hides inside a gutted camel carcass to escape a sandstorm.
  • This has been tested by the Mythbusters, who mimicked the Star Wars example by making a replica tauntaun insulated with fur, foam, and vinyl tubes representing organs, warmed up to the temperature of a recently-deceased arctic mammal, and stuffing a heat-based test dummy as a stand-in for Luke. Following their test, they concluded that Luke's survival was in fact plausible: following 2 and a half hours in the tauntaun (their estimate for how long it would take for Han to make the proper shelter he promises), the dummy only dropped a few degrees, well above the threshold where one would die of hypothermia.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade features an unusual variation of this in the revised clanbook for the Tzimisce. During the introduction, a German soldier stranded on the Russian front finds himself being granted shelter in a stranded tank "modified" to that end: the outside of the tank has been covered in dead bodies to trap escaping heat, while the interior is layered in the still-living remains of the soldier's unit, which provide so much heat that the tank is actually quite humid. The soldier is awestruck by this, being reminded of stories of hunters sleeping in the carcasses of their prey. Of course, the Tzimisce vampire who actually set this up doesn't need the warmth for himself; he wanted to make a safe haven for the soldier in the hopes of Embracing him.

    Video Games 
  • In Armed and Dangerous, Rexus is delirious from hypothermia, and Q gets the bright idea to stick him in the body of a large animal to warm him up. But instead of gutting it, he takes a shortcut.
    Q: ...Works better when they're dead.
  • Borderlands 3: Tannis is introduced hiding in the corpse of a dead saurian, as a life support glitch has caused her lab to freeze. Of course, this being Tannis, she decides sleeping inside a bloody meat sack is actually quite nice.
    Tannis: If anyone needs me, I'll be in my saurian.

    Web Animation 
  • Dorkly Originals: In "Ice World Problems", unable to proceed through a shivering blizzard, Mario and Luigi opt to hide in a Goomba for warmth. Being too big, they end up breaking the body and once the blizzard gets worse, Mario immediately kills Luigi and uses his body instead, moments before getting mauled by wolves.
  • In Happy Tree Friends, Flippy at one point had to hide inside the corpses of his friends and fellow soldiers to avoid detection by Tiger General's forces. This was, as can be imagined, incredibly traumatic for him.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage suggests doing this to Fighter (and then Red Mage and Thief) in order to make sure the remaining Light Warriors (i.e. himself) don't freeze. Later, Garland and the Dark Warriors actually do this to a Yeti.

    Western Animation 
  • On the second episode of Clerks: The Animated Series, the characters get locked in a freezer that Randal describes as "Hoth cold". Jay wishes he had a lightsaber so that he could slice up Silent Bob and climb inside to stay warm.
  • Parodied in Craig of the Creek episode "Creature Feature" when a girl slits open a large teddy bear for JP to hide inside from the creature; JP acts as if she just gutted a live animal.
  • In an episode of Drawn Together, Wooldoor and Ling-Ling take shelter inside Toot's corpse.
    Wooldoor: There's already two of us inside this fat chick, and there's no room for more!
  • Family Guy:
    Stewie: You know, actually, once you feng-shui the organs, it's kind of cozy.
  • Lampshaded in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Hide and Seek". The kids shrink themselves, and Baljeet is stranded in the chandelier, where his diminutive size and proximity to the air conditioning vents is causing him to lose body heat fast. He cuts open a fly and gets inside to stay warm.
    Candace: Who smells like fly guts?
    Baljeet: I had to survive, okay?!
  • In Rick and Morty episode "Morty's Mind Blowers", one of Morty's removed memories in the collection features Rick being forced to butcher a friendly animal for this purpose on the grounds that the planet they're on freezes overnight. Unfortunately, it turns out that Rick was reading the stats for the wrong planet, after-which Morty realizes Rick intentionally removed the memory, along with several others, to cover his screw-up.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The episode "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" parodies Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back scene, with Brock cutting open Edgar Allen Poe in order for Hank to rest inside of him.
    • In another episode, Rusty is stranded naked in the arctic. Brock shows up just as he is about to be attacked by a polar bear, and skins the bear with incredible speed to keep the Doc warm. In this case it's partly residual body heat from the bear (its skin is shown to be steaming) and partly just the benefit of a fur coat.

    Real Life 
  • You can now buy literal Tauntaun shaped sleeping bags.
  • During The Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa hid from the Federales inside a horse's carcass.
  • Tasmanian Devils have been known to eviscerate the carcasses of large animals, and then live inside them for a short time while eating.
  • Similarly, hagfish are notorious for burrowing inside larger fish and whales (usually already dead) to eat them from the inside.