In Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, Jabba says (through his interpreter, C-3PO), that when someone is thrown into the Sarlacc pit, they endure indescribable suffering as they are "slowly digested over a thousand years".

Obviously, most people don't live that long, even in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. If you were swallowed and found yourself in a giant creature's stomach, you would probably suffocate within minutes, making the question of how long it took to digest you irrelevant.

Does the Sarlacc pit keep you alive after swallowing you, so you really do suffer for a thousand years, or do you suffocate quickly, after a relatively brief period of suffering, but your body is only digested very slowly?

  • It is all described in this wikia article: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Sarlacc Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 7:35
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    Star TREK: Conceivable science in its Science Fiction. Star WARS: Pure fantasy. Lucas didn't even know a parsec was a measure of distance and not time. Commented May 19, 2016 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


Suprisingly, this isn't a retcon or an attempt to explain Threepio's throaway line ("In his belly, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering, as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.")

In the film's official novelisation, released at the same time as the film and hence considered 'G-Canon', we get this piece of exposition:

Lando closed his eyes and tried to think of all the ways he might give the Sarlacc a thousand years of indigestion. He bet himself three to two he could outlast anybody else in the creature’s stomach. Maybe if he talked that last guard out of his uniform …

So he clearly feels that survival is a matter of more than mere minutes.

Later sources have elaborated on this extensively, creating an entire ecosystem to explain that the Sarlacc releases nutrients to keep the victim alive.

After being swallowed by the tongue, the victim made its way into the sarlacc's stomach to be digested, purportedly being kept alive and slowly digested for a millennium. A strong network of vessels inside the stomach punctured the victim's skin and muscles and then embedded itself into victims before injecting neurotoxins into them, preventing the victims from escaping and ensuring that they remained immersed in the acidic fluids in the stomach, and attached to the walls of the stomach.

The vessels also provided victims with nutrients to keep them alive while they were digested in agony; sometimes when a victim was in the stomach for a long time period, the sarlacc actually embedded it in the lining of the stomach to make room for other victims it swallowed and to make the stomach stronger so that other victims could not escape participially once their digestion was complete

The way in which it keeps its victims alive beyond their allotted lifespan isn't covered in any great detail but we do learn that there's a telepathic component to its torture and that it enjoys the pain of its victims, explaining why it would want to keep them alive rather than merely consuming their nutrients.

  • This feels oddly familiar...
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 6:11
  • Isn't it a little silly that the sarlacc feeds nutrients to its victims in order to keep them alive so it can digest them? It's an unnecessary loop in its metabolism - the sarlacc is feeding nutrients it derives from digestion of its victim back into the victim! :-P
    – RobertF
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 18:19
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    @RobertF - I guess it depend on what you mean by unnecessary. If you take the "Legends" info as a source, It doesn't just ingest them, it also gains enjoyment from their pain.
    – user7812
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 18:23

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