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Your Top 10 (Totally Tested) Uses for Tribbles

Turns out they make a great exfoliant! Who knew?

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - "Trials and Tribble-ations" / Rob DeHart

You thought they were just good for making cooing noises and teaching Edward Larkin the dangers of genetic engineering? Think again.

Here are 10 totally tested uses for Tribbles!

10. Water-Free Showers

Captain Kirk (TOS) is in a pile of tribbles. He looks unhappy.

It turns out Tribble fur is an amazing exfoliant — cleansing and removing dead skin of most species with a gentle brushing motion. Simply pour Tribbles over yourself until clean (they can be stored in an overhead grain bin quite happily for this purpose). The tribbles then clean themselves, making them available for the next shower!

9. Taste-Testing

Tribbles dedicate half their metabolism to eating and have an excellent sense of taste. Need to know which preparation of Parthas is best? Put four plates in front of a Tribble, and see which one it eats first. (Note the first — the Tribble will eventually eat all four plates. Note the second — Tribbles generally have no idea what food is poisonous, so this is good only as a taste test, not a safety test.)

8. Fashion Trends

Star Trek: The Animated Series

Before the Betazoid practice of wearing ornate wigs that included small-caged animals ended, we’ve heard tell that a number of smugglers suggested bringing even a single Tribble to the world would spawn a self-replicating “Tribble rush.”

7. Conversation Starters

Put three or four tribbles on a coffee table before having guests over. Soon they will be asking “Where did you get those Tribbles? Isn’t it illegal to transport them? Why are we knee-deep in Tribbles already? Does this room have a designated emergency exit?”

6. Ethics Training

You thought the Kobayashi Maru was a no-win scenario? Lock cadets in a simulator with Tribbles and tell them to clean up the space before they are allowed out. The cadets who want to transport them into space? They fail the test.

5. Sustainable Living

Sure, on most starships this is done easily enough with replicators. But if you get stuck in the Delta Quadrant with no spare parts and need to set up sustenance farming in a small space, Tribbles are an amazing first step to jump-start your needs. Just keep them out of the grain bins. And fruit bins. And pantry...

4. Testing Hermetic Seals

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine -

Tribbles famously get in everything. Everything. Want to know for sure if your security systems are secure? Dump a dozen Tribbles into it, wait 2-3 days, and see how many places you thought were sealed off that they manage to get into.

3. Guarding Your Valuables

Vicious guard Tribbles will scream and attack with their sharp goatee-like horns to protect anything that is shiny or glitters. (Mirror Universe Tribbles, only.)

Short Treks - Tribble or Treat?

2. Casework for Xeno-Obstetricians Students

With Starfleet’s advanced teaching programs, doctors can pick up any specialty in no time! But this, which makes waiting for xeno-births one of the big holdups of final certification. But Tribbles are born pregnant, which is quite a timesaver.

1. Uncovering Surgically-Altered Klingon Spies...

...And chicken salad sandwiches that have gone bad. Tribbles have the same reaction to both.

This article was originally published on November 4, 2019.

Owen K.C. Stephens (he/him) is a professional tabletop game designer and publisher. You can check out more of his writing and game work on Twitter @Owen_Stephens or check out his blog.

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