17 of the most bafflingly bizarre creatures in the Land of Oz

Contributed by
May 17, 2017

Like Dorothy, you would think you've seen everything once you encounter (and actually hold a conversation with) a logical scarecrow, a man made entirely out of tin and a lion who can't take up the crown as King of Beasts because he insists he's a coward. This inside-out fairyland only keeps getting weirder as you find yourself among trees with opinions, a queen of mice with a tiny crown, flying monkeys ... and that doesn't even include the oddities of the Emerald City.

While the Oz-verse extends through volumes and volumes of enchanted realms by several different authors (BTW, we've got an everything you need to know here), it was first imagined into being by L. Frank Baum, who envisioned some things that would be impossible to create even in a petri dish. This magical menagerie goes beyond just animals that talk, because in Oz, everything talks. Think inanimate objects that were suddenly animated and highly magnified insect Einsteins. And don't forget the things that can take off their heads.

Crash your house into this dreamlike otherworld and follow the Yellow Brick Road to some stranger-than-strange creatures that can only exist in the land of Oz.

Flatheads

When your head is flat, you have no brains, and when you have no brains, you carry your brains in a can that you have absolutely no idea what to do with. What you are aware of is that someone is always out to steal that can. You also declare war on the Skeezers (who are actually normal human beings despite a name that sounds like a mutant mosquito) for no apparent reason other than your Supreme Dictator having a grudge. Of course, you finally come to your senses when Glinda pours the contents of that can of brains on your head, which then magically wraps around them to create the forehead and cranium you never had.

Gargoyles

These are not the gargoyles that perch on Victorian-era buildings or the edge of someone's lawn. It is something of a mystery as to why they're called 'gargoyles' at all, seeing as how their bodies are made of what look like broken limbs of junk furniture with hinged cupboard doors for wings (which they can unhinge to sleep). The one thing they have in common with the stone gargoyles that stand sentinel over your apartment complex or begonia patch is that they're equally hideous. The only enviable thing about them is that they must have amplified night vision since they live in the Land of Naught where there is no light whatsoever. At least stealing the wings and taking to the air got Dorothy out of that dreadful black hole.

The Glass Cat

Another Powder of Life phenomenon, the Glass Cat is not a soft kitty or a warm kitty. She's an arrogant kitty whose cold and hard exterior doesn't say much for her transparent interior. You can literally see right through her. There must be something superior about a body made of glass, even though she remains oblivious to the fact that glass can shatter into a million pieces. Toto obviously doesn't like her much. Neither do most of the animals this feisty feline meets. She also has a curious obsession with showing off her emotionless ruby heart and rolling around the pink brains (rose quartz?) in her empty head. No wonder her name is Bungle.

The Gump

Oz's most famous talking head is kind of like a moose crossed with a deer crossed with a goat crossed with a catfish. The whiskered and bearded Gump has been mounted on the palace wall since it can remember, but it has a moment when some desperate travelers need a ride out of the Emerald City and turn it into a junkyard flying machine by attaching it to a sofa, adding two palm branch wings and sprinkling on the last of the Powder of Life. While he was the head of the vehicle that helped them escape a revolt, the Gump didn't care much for adventure after that. He asked to be disassembled and hung back on the wall where he came from.

Hammer-Heads

There's something about Oz that messes with people's heads. Literally. When you can bash your skull into just about anything without getting a major concussion, you know it must be some sort of twisted magic. The Hammer-Heads are bigheaded in more ways than one. Not only do these things have grossly oversized heads for being all of three feet tall and armless, but they have the egos to match. These antisocial beings who never, ever negotiate have no problem amping up their voices to scare you out of their country, and if that doesn't work, they'll just use their indestructible heads to hammer you out of spite.

The Hyp-po-gy-raf

However huge it is, this behemoth is harmless—unless you’re the Scarecrow. Then he wants to devour your innards like he’s never seen straw before. If you ever want to see the other side of a dangerous canyon that only its extendable neck can get you across, then you’re going to have to give up your guts (not the brains, never the brains). Just let the rest of your posse carry the deflated shirt and pants that make up your body across until they can refuel you with hay. Hay is inferior to straw when it comes to stuffing a scarecrow, but whatever it takes to get where you need to go. You’re not about to say no to a hulking hippo with the neck of a giant giraffe.

Kalidahs

If there is one denizen of the enchanted forest that the Cowardly Lion fears more than ... never mind, the Cowardly Lion fears everything. Kalidahs are still pretty intimidating beasts that look like a mad scientist spliced the DNA of a tiger with that of a bear. They hate magic and will laugh in your face and relentlessly mock you if you try to defy them, even though you'd think they would pounce and try to kill you first. Their fangs and claws are supposed to be so epically long and sharp that they could even shred the lion in a matter of seconds, but are they really so fearsome if they frighten him enough to unleash his deafening roar?

Lavender Bear and Little Pink Bear

Teddy bears don't just come in brown. These animated stuffed animals — no word on whether the Powder of Life had something to do with that — are also pink and lavender. They aren't exactly cuddly, either. Their deceptively cute king is an oversized, overstuffed lavender bear who takes the law semi-seriously. Trespass on their territory and they'll sentence you to execution in ten years because in ten years they will have forgotten all about it. Their heads apparently aren't stuffed with fluff, either: the little pink bear is a mechanical memory bank that will tell you the truth about anything and everything that has already happened, however much you resist believing it.

Loons

You might feel like a balloon after too much cheesecake, but try actually being one. The Loons are as insane as the name implies and will pop if pushed past the brink. This happens quite often since they are so vain and self-absorbed that they often puff themselves up to their bursting point. At least they can be repaired if at least one of them stays inflated, but are always re-inflated to (understandably) a smaller size and develop warts from all the ruptures and repairs. Shouldn't warts be enough of a threat to their vanity to keep them from over-bloating? Whether these inflatable oddities are actually made of rubber or some kind of bizarre rubbery protoplasm remains unknown.

Nomes

These subterranean garden gnomes technically hoard their gems nine thousand feet under the land of Ev, but close enough. When they aren't taking someone prisoner in the cavernous depths, they're conspiring with some equally unsavory creatures to conquer the Emerald City. They have no shortage of stone prisons in which to stash their captives. Maybe it's all those rocks they eat that make them so grouchy. Nomes are also more stubborn than granite. After King Ruggedo falls in a failed Oz takeover and the Water of Oblivion from the Forbidden Fountain makes him forget how evil he is, his unshakeable greed and malice get him up to the same shenanigans all over again until he needs another drink.

Orks

No, not Orcs. This isn’t Warcraft or The Lord of the Rings. These freakish marine flying machines that are neither bird nor fish are actually called Orks. It only looks like some sort of mutated bird that ended up on the wrong side of a nuclear power plant until you realize it has no feathers except for a blaze of red plumes on its head. You can't really be blamed for thinking this four-legged, four-winged thing is a bird because of its parrot head and propeller tail. Flipper the Ork becomes an airborne ride for shipwrecked strangers Trot and Cap'n Bill when they wash up on the shores of Mo. Like every other non-human creature in Oz, it talks.

Professor Woggle-Bug

What exactly is a Woggle-Bug? In what genus and species would you classify something that looks like a beetle with squiggled antennae and a pair of spectacles? Is its scientific name Wogglus Buggus? Professor Woggle-Bug would know since he's Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated (if you count hanging out on the wall of a schoolhouse for several years as higher education). Ever since he crawled out of a projector magnified several hundred times, he obviously thinks his brain has also grown enough to manufacture impossible things in pill form. Try School Pills or Square Meals, which make studying and eating obsolete. Genius.

The Saw-Horse

It isn't a horse, and it doesn't even have much of a resemblance to a horse except for some crudely fashioned eyes and ears. Despite its apparent setbacks, this surprisingly agile wooden animal which should have never been alive can outrun an actual horse, which will inevitably skulk in the shadows feeling really bitter that it was just beat by something that used to be an inanimate object. The saw-horse has an advantage over your average equine specimen because it never tires and doesn't need to refuel. This was another one of Ozma's creatures that she brought into being with the Powder of Life before she found out she was queen of Oz.

Scoodlers

The last place you want to find yourself stuck in when you're traversing a dangerous fairyland is a kingdom of creatures with removable heads who also have an appetite for throwing you into a soup kettle. It doesn't help when said creatures look as nightmarish as their intent. The Scoodlers are split between a rainbow eyesore of clashing colors and have comically exaggerated features, limbs that can bend in either direction and creepy faces on both sides of their detachable heads. When a cranium can detach at will, you have to wonder if its owner has brains. Seems half the inhabitants of Oz are lacking in gray matter.

The Woozy

From far away, it could be a dog. Except it's blue. And … square. Its eyes can shoot shocking blasts of flames if you say the one word that makes it angry because it just can't understand what 'Krizzle-Kroo' means. The irony is that the Woozy doesn't realize its stare is more fearsome than its roar, which is hardly more terrifying than a kitten purring. The hairs on its tail are also essential to a powerful magical charm that can reanimate people after they've been turned to marble. Like all magic in Oz that isn't performed by fairies, Glinda or the Wizard, this charm is illegal, but it doesn't really matter when pulling out those hairs is impossible.

Wheelers

When you have absolutely nothing threatening about you except limbs with wheels and the slightly disturbing ability to roll on all fours, you scare away intruders by spreading rumors that you're the most menacing thing next to a Kalidah. The Wheelers don't have dark magic or dagger teeth. What they do have is enough cunning to write BEWARE THE WHEELERS in threateningly large letters and at least attempt to convince Dorothy that she will be sentenced to death for picking a lunch pail and a dinner pail off the lunch and dinner pail trees (because that's perfectly normal). Nobody seems to know that they actually have no power besides acting like bogeymen on rollerblades.

Quox

Dragons lurk in every fantasy epic that has ever existed, but what makes Quox quirky is the way Baum imagined him: saucer eyes, a crocodile grin and an enchanted necklace of pink ribbon and pearls. Don't forget the electric light at the end of his tail. This 3,055-year-old reptilian dandy becomes a giant bus for Betsy Bobbin and friends when they need to plummet into the bowels of the Earth to rescue an unfortunate prisoner from the Nome caverns. Of course, a giant lizard with the ability to breathe flames and scorch everything to a crisp would only do this for a really valid reason -- that reason being that he's been sentenced to a sort of community service for being a little too unfiltered around his elders. Jaws that enormous can be a liability.