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An ankheg.
Type Magical beast
CR 3
Environment Temperate or warm plains
Images of ankhegs

Source: Bestiary, pg(s). 15

Verminous dangers that roam the hinterlands of civilisation, ankhegs, also known as ankhravs, are burrowing insect-like menaces that prey on livestock and the farmers who guard them.[1]


At first glance, an ankheg seems to be a gigantic insect. The length of its nearly horse-sized body is covered in hard chitin from its clacking mandibles to the back of its abdomen, and it sports six legs. Unlike true insects, however, an ankheg has only one set of eyes and possesses a rudimentary intelligence similar to that of reptiles. Its oversized mandibles excrete a potent acid which it uses to dissolve its food. Larger species of ankhegs the size of elephants have been spotted in remote wilderness areas, particularly deserts, where they prey upon giant scorpions, camels, and other creatures native to that environment.[1]

Habitat and ecology

A hunter attacks an ankheg in the Cinderlands.

Ankhegs tend to dwell on the outskirts of civilisation where they have a steady access to food. They can only dig through soil, sand, and gravel but not solid rock, so they are never found in mountainous or other rocky terrain. Their preferred habitat seems to be rural farmland, as such places not only have loose soil, but also a large supply of livestock and farmers to feed on. Ankhegs also often dwell in deserts with some of them growing far larger than normal ankhegs.[1] They are common in the deserts of Garund, particularly northern Katapesh,[2] and are even resilient enough to dwell in the scorching Cinderlands of eastern Varisia.[3]

The ankheg's most famous home is the Skittermounds in the desolate Hold of Belkzen. Here, ankhegs create huge nests beneath the land's vast sandy mounds, and armies of the creatures battle each other for territory and scant resources.[4] The Skittermounds ankhegs' enormous nests seem to be an exception, however, as ankhegs are often solitary hunters that do not gather in such numbers.[1]

An ankheg is more intelligent than it looks—much smarter than normal insects—and can be trained to serve as beasts of burden, mounts, or war beasts. While smarter than insects, however, they are still less intelligent than most animals and have a nasty tendency to squirt acid when surprised or scared. As a result, ankhegs are only trained by savage races that value their fighting ability over the safety of those near them. This includes races like hobgoblins, troglodytes, and especially orcs, who are renowned for their love of violent war beasts.[1]

On Nchak

Ankheg have been spotted on the hive moon of Nchak that orbits the gas giant Liavara. This species seems to be indistinguishable from the one found on Golarion.[5]