The trouble with Tribbles, Tribbles -



by Eleanor Olayinka Murphy

“They do nothing but consume food and reproduce. If you feed that thing more than the smallest morsel, in a few hours you'll have ten tribbles, then a hundred – then a thousand!”


Tribbles are fictitious species in the Star Trek Universe. They first appeared in a 1967 episode on Star Trek: The Original Series, The Trouble with Tribbles which was written by screenwriter David Gerrald. Also, they also appeared in four Star Trek films and video games like Star Trek: Armada II

Tribbles, characterized by their gentle and slow movements are a small, round, furry, and striking species. Although they are quite slow, they are able to scale, clamber and club onto vertical veneers.

They are also known as Polygeminus grex, Tribleustes ventricous, and are very lovable.

Their homeworld is the Iota Geminorum IV.

They elicit cooing, squealing, and squeaking sounds. The cooing sounds which they elicit while caressed have a tranquilizing effect on the human nervous system. Their colors vary from grey to black, speckled brown, yellow, and orange.

Tribbles are born pregnant and they use over 50% of their metabolism for reproduction.

An individual tribble which has had a substantial and sufficient meal can instantly expand and intensify its abundance exponentially through asexual reproduction, bearing an average litter of ten and producing a new family or generation every twelve hours.

A pile of of tribbles

Pile of Tribbles

After a duration of three days, that individual tribble will be able to account for about one million seven hundred and seventy-one, five hundred and sixty-one offspring.

They are also known to be large consumers of foods. It is as though their only purpose is to eat and reproduce and to be frank, they do both remarkably well.

They have a terrific sense of smell and can differentiate between individuals by fragrance. They also find their food by scent.

Tribbles are inefficient and cannot bring harm upon any being, they do not even have teeth. However, their tendency of multiplying rapidly can ravage or destroy an entire ecosystem on a planetary scale.

On their homeworld, Geminorum IV, tribbles were constrained and kept in check by a large number of reptilian predators.

Tribbles first met face to face with Humans in the early 2150s when the Denobulan doctor Phlox carried a small amount on board the Enterprise NX-01 as an easily tolerable food source for his pets. Also, on board the USS Discovery, Captain Gabriel Lorca had a pet tribble which he always kept in his room. But that tribble was later dissected for research.

During the mid-twenty-third century, Edward Larkin of the USS Cabot was working with the specimens of the species, with the intention of utilizing them as a food source for a planet that was at the brink of starvation. Edward Larkin, who at the board of inquiry was described, characterized, and portrayed as a nincompoop and dumbhead, had acknowledged that tribbles would have given rise to a terrific food source and solve the problem of the planetary food shortage but that they spawned very slowly.

Edward Larkin

Edward Larkin

Opposing the orders from a higher category, he decided to alter and enhance the tribbles' rate of reproduction by combining his DNA with that of the tribbles. This resulted in the uncontrolled multiplication of the tribbles. They expanded so much and so quickly that they could not be contained. His ship was demolished, causing his death.

The current hybrid/ crossbred tribbles then made it to the Pragine 63 which was the planet he was working on, forcing the whole civilization had to be evacuated and left abandoned. It was located on the edge of the Klingon space and was occupied by the intelligent Calations.

 Later, it was reported that the tribbles had carved their way into the Klingon homeworld.

They are a tremendous menace to the Klingons.

Tribbles are known to respond with hostility and animosity when close to or even sense a Klingon nearby. The Klingons developed a glommer. The glommer is an artificial creature which was designed and masterminded by Klingons as a buzzard just for the purpose of hunting, killing, and even eating the tribbles.

But the glommer was used just once. It was stolen by Cyrano Jones in 2269, who had claimed it under the space liberation laws.

 An animated picture of a glommer

Animated picture of a Glommer 

In 2269 Captain James T. Kirk rescued Cyrano Jones from the Klingons. Onboard the USS Enterprise when tribbles had overrun the vessel, Cyrano Jones tried to use the Glommer to get rid of them. But it was incapable of handling the vast volume of tribbles on board.

Before that incident occurred, in 2268 Cyrano Jones had taken a small number of tribbles to the Deep Space Station K-7 to sell.

He had given a tribble as a gift to Federation officer Nyota Uhura, with the hopes that a beautiful woman's ownership of the species would strengthen and heighten its popularity.

Nyota Uhura took the tribble on board the Starship USS Enterprise, where it quickly reproduced and multiplied.

Captain Kirk in an avalanche of tribbles

 Kirk In A Pile of Tribbles

 Because of the enormous amount of the tribbles on the ship, the Klingons agenda to contaminate a load of quadrotriticale which was for Sherman's Planet was foiled when the tribbles which had fed on the grain were discovered dead.

Even though the tribbles had been known by Starfleet personnel for at least a century, the knowledge of the tribbles' reproductive velocity was not known by them.

Dr. Leonard McCoy later discovered that information in his research about the ways, and the reason for the large growth on board the K-7 and the Enterprise.

Various other Enterprise personnel like Nyota Uhura, also implied having never heard of them before.

Cyrano Jones once attempted to genetically contrive and alter the tribbles system so that they would cease to propagate.

After his ‘experiment’, he believed them to be safe and stable, regarding them as so.

The main reason he attempted to annul their rate of propagation was so that they would be compatible with humans and also make great pets which would be profitable for him too.

Unfamiliar to him, and as was later found out by Doctor Leonard McCoy, Cyrano Jones's congenital engineering was depicted as being ‘very slipshod’, it wasn't thought through carefully.

As a consequence, the tribbles seemed to grow in massive size, rather than their rapid breeding.

Doctor Leonard McCoy later realized that the tribbles which had grown in size were not really as they appeared, rather they were colonies of tribbles in one.

 He was later able to make amends to the situation by giving them a simple shot of neo ethylene. That caused the tribbles colony to topple and break down into their single units with a slower metabolic velocity, this eventually made the tribbles become ‘safe tribbles’.

The Klingons' remedy to the tribble threat was to completely wipe out the species.

A number of Klingon warriors were ordered to track them down throughout the galaxy, and the tribble homeworld was ‘successfully’ eradicated in the late 23rd century.

When Odo, a changeling who served as chief of security, heard of this his response was, “Another glorious chapter in Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of the Great Tribble Hunt?”

Despite the decimation of the tribble homeworld, many Humans continued to have them as pets from the late 23rd century up until the late 24th century.

The reason for this was because a youngster who was on board the USS Enterprise-D happened to own one as a pet in 2371.

Tribbles were later reintroduced into the 24th century when Captain Benjamin Sisko and his team took one of the species back to 2373 when a time-traveling visit to the tribble-infested space station K-7 of 2268 occurred.

In an alternate reality, Montgomery Scott had a tribble at his station on the Delta Vega outpost in 2258. Here, it was discovered that the tribbles could not reproduce in cold temperatures,



  • Anonymous

    Great catch! We’ve updated to article. Thanks for letting us know!

  • James Michael Allen Begole

    That image of a glommer is from something different (a game or something). The glommer of Star Trek The Animated Series is orange with four long legs and two long antenna stalks. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Glommer

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