How Mogwai and Gremlins Work

By: Robert Lamb

Mogwai and Gremlin Reproduction

Asexual budding: Just add water.
Asexual budding: Just add water.

As you've probably noticed, the life cycle of the mogwai is something of a train wreck. While these creatures initially seem to be our own evolutionary kin, their strange biology differs drastically from pretty much everything else on Earth.

Standing roughly 9 inches (23 centimeters) tall, mogwai closely resemble many members of the primate order. They boast the bipedal stature of a squat human, the large eyes of a spectral tarsier and the enormous ears of an aye-aye lemur. Like all primates, mogwai are warm-blooded vertebrates, but that's where the similarities end.


For starters, you can shave a mogwai bare (not recommended) and you won't find a single nipple on its body. This alone doesn't disqualify them from mammal status, since egg-laying monotreme mammals such as the platypus and the echidna lactate through primitive skin openings. But you won't even find mammary glands on a mogwai -- and for a very good reason.

Mogwai are asexual and reproduce through a process known as budding. Various flatworms, sponges and corals also reproduce this way, but perhaps the best multicellular organism of comparison is the freshwater hydra. These tiny, tentacled creatures generally grow to lengths of between 0.6 and 1.2 inches (15 and 30 millimeters). If food and water are plentiful, then the hydra grows a series of small bumps (or buds) on its body. These bumps develop into miniature hydras that eventually pinch off from the parent organism to fend for themselves.

A healthy hydra may produce new offspring every three to four days. With mogwai, the budding process is more rapid. If a well-nourished mogwai's skin comes into contact with even a small amount of liquid water, several furry balls bud from the creature's back and pinch free from the parent mogwai as independent organisms -- all in less than a minute.

The budding process is extremely unpleasant for the parent mogwai, sapping it of vital energy and body mass. For weaker mogwai, the process can even prove fatal. Fortunately, the creature's ravenous hunger and high metabolism make for a rather speedy recovery.