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So I have a concept in mind for a future dystopian world.

The world:

  • Technology exists on par with modern technology.
  • This technology is not widespread; in fact, it is quite rare.
  • Most humans do not know how to create the tech that exists and are only occasionally aware with how to fix things.
  • Normally available tech has devolved to a more mechanical state, sorta steam-punk-esque.
  • Most humans live in walled cities. There isn't really government beyond a small regional scale. The largest would probably be the size of Rhode Island.
  • Small caliber fire arms are available, though not widely.

One of the cities is going to attack the other. One of the primary resources at their disposal are small mammals (anything from the mouse up to say a badger).

They have available a catapult or two and want to launch animals into the city to cause mayhem before they attack in full. This city retains some pre-whatevertheapocalypsewas technology in the form of a modern communication network and several automated perimeter turrets (effective range is around 100 yards). The turrets would decimate the attackers trying to breach the walls.

  • I am not looking for the standard, launch a dead carcass or two and allow disease to spread
  • I want the animals to arrive in the city ALIVE.
  • Well...not all the critters have to make it in alive...it is expected that some percentage will not make it.

How would you deliver the critters via catapult?

  • Please include delivery methods (methods must include a catapult) for both small (mice) and large (american or honey badger) mammals. More care should be taken in the delivery of the badgers...they are harder to find and train.

What critters (anything mammalian in the size range mentioned) would most effectively destroy/disable/diminish the effectiveness of the communications and defense networks?

  • Minimal training of the critters is allowed.
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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Feb 17 '17 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ "Technology exists on par with modern technology." What specific technology are you referring to? Catapults? $\endgroup$ – Florian Castellane Feb 17 '17 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ Anything you throw with a catapult will probably be dead on arrival, so throw horrifying dead objects: the severed heads of any prisoners you have handy, especially if they are related to the ruling family. Don't throw them all at once. Throw one a day till they surrender. $\endgroup$ – RedSonja Feb 17 '17 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ You can always use tazmanian devils. Those creatures are nasty. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Feb 17 '17 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Not a small animal, but the "tiger bomb" comes to mind. An armored container for about 900 lbs of enraged cat, that opens as soon at it hits the ground. Communications would be something along the lines of "WHAT THE (gurgle)!!!!" $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Feb 19 '17 at 3:19

14 Answers 14

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Squirrels

Working IT for several years, I have learned that if any rodent will mess with Comms, it's a squirrel. They are the triple threat: breed quickly with nesting, climb all man-made structures with ease, and seem to hunt out power/comms lines. I have treated cases of squirrel problems that include the following:

  • Squirrel chewing through backup generator power lines until frying itself alive, but also shorting and disabling the line.
  • Chewing through fiber optic switch cable because rodents seem to enjoy the taste
  • Chewing through copper wire buried too shallow in ground
  • Chewing sleeving off for nest material and causing shorts and downing comm lines

In all the above cases, multiple hours were used up trying to isolate the issue and hours more repairing it, since most of these cable failures require running completely new lines.

The squirrels could be trained to target wires with Skinner Boxes that have a trigger buried in wires or sleeving that, when chewed, rewards the squirrel. Bonus points of there's a little speaker near the wire that generates coil wine to simulate high-power lines and transformers. Given enough of these boxes and the high breeding rate of squirrels, these anti-wire squirrels could be churned out in large numbers.

So definitely launch the badgers, as they will end up being distractions to hide the more nefarious squirrels, which will run and hide, then seek out the wires that they are conditioned to hunt expecting reward.

EDIT: In fact, if you manage to land a few new the turrets themselves, you may even end up with a scenario where they are directly disabled, opening defensive holes for the main forces to walk up to without harassment.

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    $\begingroup$ Flying squirrels would be similarly destructive and come with their own parachute... $\endgroup$ – dogwoodtree-dot-net Feb 14 '17 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ And squirrels LOVE catapults. Several Youtubers have built squirrel slingshot traps, which hurl the squirrel 20-50 feet. By all evidence this has killed none of them, as they can be seen scampering away upon landing. Some sort of braking device may be needed for a farther throw, but they hardly need a soft landing. $\endgroup$ – Harper Feb 14 '17 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ Flying squirrels are definitely the answer to this problem. I am sad that I can only vote for this one time. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Feb 14 '17 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ Remember, squirrels are a far, FAR more destructive threat then hackers! $\endgroup$ – Fake Name Feb 15 '17 at 1:08
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    $\begingroup$ If you want it to be real steampunky and throw a clock on this, strap cushioned vests to the squirrels that will unlatch when a clock timer ends. $\endgroup$ – Ross Feb 15 '17 at 15:59
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This question is absurd and ridiculous --luckily I double majored in absurd and ridiculous at the school of Mad Science and Multiple Apocalypses (no relation)

Let us begin with the turret systems. Auto turrets are pretty neat, they're coldhearted killing machines, able to pump round after round into any relatively human shaped object in their field of view. Get close to them and you're dog meat. But they ain't smart. That's kind of their glory, just stand em up and they shoot everything to hell. Long as they've got power and bullets they're good to go.

So riddle me this, what's the second most important thing in the apocalypse? Besides booze, booze doesn't count, that's like zeroth. That'd be bullets Bob. Bullets.

Here's where my mouse-man holograms come in. I mean mice, really they're just mice. But they have these nifty collars. The red gem is artificial ruby around some radioactive waste. Every now and then the charge builds up enough to cast a man shaped hologram. Suddenly, MAN! And the turrets are all like- PEW PEW PEW. Mouse is terrified and scurries. Rinse and repeat. Drop a couple hundred of these little darlings into the killing field and you waste a goodly portion of the turret's ammo. Or if you're impatient, do it during the assault. Every bullet through a hologram is a bullet not fired at your screaming horde.

Next comes the hard part. Communications. I think we need a two part attack here. Insanity mosquitos to target the meaty ends of the comms systems --and here's the glorious part. Radio interference bats. These little collars with the green gems are sapphire batteries constantly transmitting the bat's echolocation sounds on or enemy's communication channel. The beauty of it is that it's imperfect, signal strength is inversely proportionate to the square of the-- lost you. Never mind. The radios work fine one minute, bat zips in to eat one of the insanity mosquitos attacking the operators and BAM- garbled mess. Radio clears back up and some sort of insane ranting comes through (OH MY GOD MY EYES ARE MELTING). If anyone gets wise to the insanity mosquitos they'll welcome the bats. If anyone suspects the bats --well they can start popping off their guns willy-nilly not sure that's a problem for us.

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    $\begingroup$ Battery-powered holograms and signal jammers are unlikely to be available tech from the OP's description. Mosquitos aren't mammals. $\endgroup$ – Jason C Feb 16 '17 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, not going to work. Modern error control and correction would make your bats useless and it exists for decade or two already (easy example: TCP you're using right now). Holograms are easily defeated using infrared/thermal targeting and that is too already available for some time. $\endgroup$ – Oleg V. Volkov Feb 18 '17 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ What about blowup dolls instead of holograms, filled with warm air, and wrapped in warm clothing to keep them nice and toast for the IR cameras? Forget the mice, pack this kit in a tube and launch a few dozen into the kill zone every night. Once the enemy learns to ignore sporadic friendly gunfire in the night, and have programmed a conservative strategy into the turrets... $\endgroup$ – Dan Ross Feb 18 '17 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is a lot of fun to read, and brings up a very good approach with ammo depletion, but like @JasonC said it doesn't fit the criteria that the technology be "on par with modern technology". If that restriction were relaxed a bit this would certainly be a valid answer. $\endgroup$ – Ben Sutton Feb 19 '17 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ @OlegV.Volkov but that is easily defeated with a Hot Air filled balloon calibrated to temperature and an acceptable elevation that triggers the auto targeting mechanism. I can be patient and continue to cause you to change your "programming" to the point that I can cold pack myself and walk right up to your guns. Simply put, I push you to thermal targeting. I create Water Cooled devices OR mud to mask my heat signature. $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya Mar 16 '17 at 16:58
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Of the three major types of weapons most people think of as catapults, only the Trebuchet seems truly suitable for your mission.

Tension weapons (giant bows) or torsion catapults generally have high acceleration over a short period of time, and would likely kill or injure animals being fired from them. Watching a high speed film of an arrow as it comes off the bow shows the shaft flexing wildly as the energy of the bow is being transferred to the arrow. Ancient and medieval bowyers were also aware of the flexing forces in crossbows, which explains the short, thick shafts of a crossbow bolt or quarrel.

Counterpoise weapons like a trebuchet release their energy over a longer time frame, providing slower, more uniform accelerations. The best modern illustration is watching the ever entertaining "Pumpkin Chucking" contests, where mad home engineers compete to hurl a pumpkin the longest distance. Shots are disqualified if the pumpkin disintegrates while being thrown, so there is a definite limit to the amount of acceleration a trebuchet delivers.

Medieval engineers were pretty good at building large and powerful trebuchets, and some modern reproductions can fling cars. Engines like the "War Wolf" fired giant stone projectiles into walls to bring them down and ranges measured in hundreds of metres were recorded for larger ones.

More modern trebuchets have added ideas like "Floating arms" or using a "spiral" to increase the leverage of the weight providing the counterpoise, so if your engineers were "pumpkin chuckers" before the apocalypse, then building large and powerful trebuchets should not be an issue.

As for delivering the cargo, filling a wooden box with straw and packing the animal "cargo" inside should provide protection from launch, in flight and on landing, with the wooden box breaking apart and the straw cushioning the impact so the animals can be released.

Edit to add: the reproduction of the War Wolf has the announcer mention that beehives were sometimes shot over walls. A Hornets nest would be even better in terms of releasing angry insects......

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    $\begingroup$ Ok, good thinking, but OP seems to look for suitable creatures, not suitable way of throwing them. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 14 '17 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot both actually $\endgroup$ – James Feb 14 '17 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Thucydides keep in mind my target is the disabling of the comm and defense networks $\endgroup$ – James Feb 14 '17 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ "As for delivering the cargo, filling a wooden box with straw and packing the animal "cargo" inside should provide protection from launch, in flight and on landing, with the wooden box breaking apart and the straw cushioning the impact so the animals can be released." Good god, no. A wooden box and straw doesn't protect you from falling from a mile in the air. Would be better off to use a basket $\endgroup$ – Shane Feb 14 '17 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ I'd love to see the Trebuchet which can loft an object a mile into the air. It would outperform the "War Wolf" and modern pumpkin chucking machines by orders of magnitude.....You would not even need to fire an animal, the incoming rock would be approaching at the speed of a jet liner. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Feb 15 '17 at 1:50
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You want the Raspberry Crazy Ant. Granted, they aren't mammalian, and they're very small, but that actually helps you a lot. Ants aren't injured when they impact at their terminal velocity. Most of them should survive whatever kinetic delivery system you come up with, be it catapult, trebuchet, ballista, balloons shot down by arrows, whatever. They'll be hard to kill once they're established. As an added irritant, they'll sting anyone they come into contact with just as any other ant would.

As for why you want the crazy ant specifically, that's because they're drawn to electrical equipment. They get into walls and start chewing through the insulation around wires. Pump enough of them into a city and they'll start clogging all of the electrical comms and defense systems.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting Necoras but your answer doesn't fit the requirements of the scenario. This may have been better as a comment. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 15 '17 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ @James Would it be ok if you put furry hats on the ants? $\endgroup$ – PatJ Feb 15 '17 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, Necoras, the problem with your answer is the OP wants to use mammals as his weapon of choice. Raspberry Crazy Ants would work well, but they aren't what is being asked for in this question. Otherwise it's a nifty idea. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 16 '17 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Yeah, I gathered that. Seems an odd restriction, but it's not my story. Personally I think opening your computers/turrets/laser sensors/whatever to find them overflowing with masses of charred ant corpses (which is actually a real problem in the real world) is far more disturbing than just chewed wires and the occasional squirrel corpse. But, to each their own. $\endgroup$ – Necoras Feb 16 '17 at 17:22
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It's all Hamburger without Protection

What we know is that your forces cannot come within 100 yards/150 feet (91.4m) of the fence. Because the fence was built for defensive purposes it seems safe to assume it is at least 12 feet (3.7m) tall. To launch something that far and still have it clear that height, you are probably looking at a flight path that takes the object up a height of around 150ft (~45m).

The long/short here is that dropping around 150ft without protection is a very bad idea, not even counting the horizontal velocity impacts. While some small percentage of animals may live, they would likely be very unhappy about it.

Protection is Tricky - Very Tricky

In a world that has regressed to a state where the use of catapults is common, rocket brakes (retrorockets) and similarly advanced braking methods are out of the question. In fact, we are only very recently beginning to have what most would consider real success with them - and that is on a very small scale and only when designed and implemented by dedicated organizations like NASA.

At best, if you want the animals to survive you are probably looking at crates and parachutes. Parachutes are actually possible, I would think, given that they were tested on animals by the first man to use a parachute himself successfully by the 1750's.

So it seems ridiculous, but with a padded crate and some inspiration from modern parachutes (perhaps diagrammed somewhere?), it seems like it would be possible to launch some small animals.

How do the Animals Escape their Crates?

The good news, I think, is that any animal that has been catapulted would want to leave their crate at the earliest opportunity - so all they would need is a hole. It may take a number of seconds or even minutes for them to leave however, given that they are likely to be disoriented and possibly concussed from the launch.

For sufficiently small animals like mice, ensure that the parachutes deploy late enough or provide sufficiently little protection that the crates smash on impact. Many mice will be killed or maimed, but a good number could escape through the resulting holes.

For larger animals like honey badgers there are probably ways to engineer a crate to open on impact rather than launch. Openings made of more fragile materials and latches come to mind. I think though that these types of crates are likely to be very prone to staying closed. I think that estimating 50% of the crates would remain closed after landing (or kill/incapacitate the animal inside) would be fair.

Animals to Throw

The biggest problem I see is that unless you have many dozens of catapults set up (which I imagine the citizens would notice and try to stop), large animals are not going to be very effective. Although a badger is a mean SOB, they can be killed pretty easily by two men with a pitchfork and a machete - particularly if the badger is disoriented on landing. It is also incredibly easy to throw a sack over a large box, which could be used to catch the badger and beat it to death. I can personally verify that both of these methods are used today on farms and that, though exciting, they are not particularly complicated maneuvers that any physically fit adult could accomplish.

That leaves small animals. The problem is that small animals are pretty much useless, unless they are ridden with disease or lice. So I would strongly recommend diseased and/or lice-ridden rats. Even if you catch them, you yourself may catch something you don't want. Sure, head shaving and frequent bathing will help, but the long-term effects would be extremely demoralizing.

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  • $\begingroup$ keep in mind my target is the disabling of the comm and defense networks $\endgroup$ – James Feb 14 '17 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ @James - You're throwing small animals that have no concept of electronics or communication over a fence at high velocity. I think that demoralizing the enemy (and perhaps killing with disease) is your only remotely realistic chance to induce a failure into the comm and defense networks by stretching their human resources past their limits in terms of capacity or willingness to continue. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Feb 14 '17 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, definitely parachutes. But I was picturing individually. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Feb 14 '17 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ small animals (mice) can drop 150 ft with no problem at all $\endgroup$ – jk. Feb 15 '17 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @jk. - That is interesting. I did some reading and it seems that the adage is "Drop a mouse down a thousand-foot mineshaft and it gets up and walks away. A rat dies, a man breaks, a horse splashes." (J. B. S. Haldane, "On Being the Right Size", 1928). Neat! I wonder if, at the same time, you would actually have an issue with being able to throw them far enough without the crate. I suppose it could all be calculated... $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Feb 15 '17 at 13:46
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Small - Mice or Rats These are pretty quick animals so will be hard for the city defenders to catch/kill. They are pretty smart and will eat any food they find.They are also very good at surviving falls so are quite likely to survive landing, mice are more likely than a rat but rats will do more damage. With some training a swarm of mice or rats could be taught to go straight to the stores for food supplies which they would quite rapidly devour. They could also be trained to leave their waste in water supplies potentially poisoning the inhabitants. The main way they can help in terms of your question is that rodents have been observed chewing wood and wires so with training to encourage this behaviour they could destroy power supplies, pylons, and power flows in the city. With power supplies disrupted there would be no way to recharge communication devices and no lights at night making it easier to sneak in. It may also turn off the automated turrets which would be a big boost. To deliver them all that is needed is to reduce the power of a catapult so it fires them quite gently as close to straight up as will still carry them over the wall. Fill this catapult with mice and you get a lot of mice per shot.

Medium - cats (preferably feral cats) They famously always land on their feet so landing shouldn't be a problem. Once they're in the city they can run around and start scratching/biting anyone they meet. Cat bites can easily become infected and so could cause many defenders to get ill, they probably won't die but it would put them temporarily out of action. The cats would also provide a decent distraction for any other attacks as well. Although you might need to train them not to eat the mice. I would suggest launching the cats in a similar flight path t the mice but only one cat per shot. Good luck loading the feral cat into a catapult.

Bigger than Cat- Not really worth the effort of firing them You could try launching badgers or moles, or even rabbits, to try and undermine the foundations of the defences but the amount of effort you would have to go to training them and equipping them with parachutes which would make them easy to spot and kill as they fall in.

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  • $\begingroup$ Only problem is that the cats would help control the rodent problem $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Feb 14 '17 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ As the old Red Dawn movie taught us, the correct animal here is WOLVERINES! $\endgroup$ – CaM Feb 14 '17 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ I have lived in areas with feral cats. One thing I can tell you is that feral cats do not "run around and start scratching/biting anyone they meet". People are still much larger than them and they know it. They aren't domesticated, but they're not stupid. I am also unsure that "landing on your feet" means "surviving the fall without major injury". I can land on my feet from 200 ft up and will still die or suffer many fractured bones/organs. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Feb 14 '17 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ @James Which is why I suggested training mice to encourage them to gnaw wires and other power type stuff. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Feb 14 '17 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ "I am hoping cats can be trained not to kill rodents" you've clearly never had a cat then $\endgroup$ – jk. Feb 15 '17 at 13:00
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Human infants.

These small animals have numerous advantages:
  1. Human instincts will prevent their immediate slaughter.
  2. Although some planning on the year-scale is required for replacements, humans seem to always be working on new stock.
  3. They require significant food/water resources, making a siege more effective.
  4. They commit sonic warfare when not paid attention to. Distraction that is nearly impossible to ignore.
  5. They require no training at all.
  6. They are mobile as soon as possible, crawling into restricted areas without caring about any rules.
  7. They instinctively break and disassemble anything they can get their pudgy little hands on.
  8. They can easily be infected with numerous diseases with guaranteed transmissibility to the local populace. These diseases would not need to be fatal, even having a bad head cold during a war would be effective.
  9. Even if they do not cause harm immediately, they will eventually grow up into adult humans. The local populace would increase, causing overpopulation of the walled (and thus limited capacity) city.

Delivery Method.

Some form of woven plant-material based basket with padding/swaddling cloths.

  1. Effective at cushioning the payload in a trebuchet-launched parachute landing.
  2. Cheap to manufacture.
  3. The cloths, attached to the basket, would prevent separation of payload from the landing basket.
  4. Could contain reconnaissance gear, or secondary weaponry with a timer to go off some time after landing.
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  • $\begingroup$ I like your style. Well, there's still the catapult part problem, but those things are quite solid or so I've heard. $\endgroup$ – PatJ Feb 15 '17 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't want to repeat other people's answers.. they explain the catapult issues quite effectively. $\endgroup$ – Miles Prower Feb 15 '17 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ That's fine. If you think some other answer's method is better, don't hesitate and link/quote it in your post. $\endgroup$ – PatJ Feb 15 '17 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ Added a delivery method suitable to the payload. $\endgroup$ – Miles Prower Feb 15 '17 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ As good as the rest with that! $\endgroup$ – PatJ Feb 15 '17 at 16:40
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Expanding upon Tmartin's answer:

He did a fine job of showing that the squirrel is the animal of choice for this mission. However, the question also asked about delivery.

A catapult is not the right choice here, you are going to have an awful lot of g force at launch. Rather, your launcher should be a trebuchet. Since it launches via counterweight rather than tension there's no huge acceleration spike.

Furthermore, you don't want to just pile squirrels on it. First, there will be a lot of hard landings that result in dead squirrels and also your range will be severely limited. The same high drag that protects a falling squirrel also limits how far you can throw one.

Instead, lets make some squirrel holders. Take a string and tie it to the squirrel--this needs to be something they can chew through reasonably quickly. Now, take a piece of paper and wrap the squirrel's face so it can't chew. The string is wrapped around this paper but not tied. The string is then tied to a larger piece of paper. This paper is wrapped around the squirrel and a decently heavy stone. A ribbon is fastened to the paper and wrapped around this whole thing, not tied and some ribbon is left loose.

A bunch of these are piled on the trebuchet in a stone-down orientation. You can have only one layer.

When launched the wind grabs the loose end of the ribbon and starts unwinding things. Once the paper starts to unwind the stone falls free, the paper causes a lot of drag and rest of the assembly quickly unwraps. While the squirrel might be a bit dizzy from the unwinding the rotation quickly stops once it's fully unwound. The squirrel won't like being tethered and will quickly chew off the string.

Experimentation (dead squirrels will suffice) will tell you exactly how big and long to make the various parts to ensure it opens as late in the flight as possible to get maximum range.

While a piece of paper edge on at first glance doesn't look like much of a parachute it's a lot more effective than one would think. Back in my model rocketry days we recovered a lot of light rockets with a strip of crepe paper rather than a parachute. For light enough rockets it was the method of choice because it was basically impervious to malfunctions other than a failure of the tether itself.

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Timeframes are going to be medium or long term in all cases

Animals need time to do their sabotage work, so its assumed that they will have a few months to a year to soften up the city and disable their comms/defenses.

This time will be very different based on whether the enemy city gets alerted from day 1 (so they realize the danger and move quickly to annihilate it) or not.

As such, your launch should be done when its nightfall, foggy, overcast etc.; and if you need to use packing materials get those that won't be easily identified as such (e.g. jute bags similar to what are commonly used in the city).

Are the slums within the city or is it only a well-developed area for nobles?

Most animals will need breeding areas which means that having dingy unmaintained sections are crucial for their prosperity. Of course, if the city has a now-unused underground (storm drains etc.) that could work perfectly even if the above ground is patrolled and cleaned regularly.

Match attackers according to the infrastructure

Communication antennas and turret receivers are the only shiny things around - you can use flying attackers like magpies which like to collect shiny objects.

Comms use large parabolic dishes - Get species that love to nest in such areas and/or cover them up in some way (pigeons perhaps). Bonus if the 'turrets' are shaped like statues so the pigeons give them a nice whitewash coating.

Exposed wires are a weak point - use rats, squirrels etc. that like to chew on them.

Only person who can operate comms has a peanut allergy and is a dog lover - throw a friendly poodle drenched in powdered peanut residue near his house.

Throwing in rodents will end up with a lot of frayed wires, ropes, cloth covers etc. as the animals have a need to gnaw often.

Need short term disruption?

Mainly use mammals as a distraction for the people who would otherwise maintain the turrets or comms. If the weaponry is sufficiently weak, you can just chuck a few leopards to kill people and cause small scale chaos.

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For delivery method, I'd use a cage with a time delayed parachute that could be launched over the wall, release the chute, and then open the cage when it lands.

As to the animal, I'd start with rats and other rodents around the food stores.

If disease is allowed, rabid animals could be used, or possibly plague carriers, but if not then the attacking army should use underfed puppies as the second wave.

Puppies are useless and don't have much meat, but they eat a lot. So the enemy would have to decide between watching the dogs starve (and possibly turn feral), killing and/or eating them, or waste resources feeding them. Any of those options would hurt moral in the city.

Edit:
Maybe not as good as squirrels, but my friends pet rabbit has done some damage chewing on power cables and the like, so that may be an alternative.

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    $\begingroup$ Instead of a parachute and cage, how about hang gliders? That could improve the range too. $\endgroup$ – Monty Harder Feb 14 '17 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ Keep in mind my target is the disabling of the comm and defense networks $\endgroup$ – James Feb 14 '17 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @James, as they said in the movie "Starship Troopers", you don't have to bother about the the enemy's nuclear missile if you chop off their hand before it pressed the launch button. What is the use of the comm and defense networks if nobody is using them because they are busy crying over the starving puppies? $\endgroup$ – Headcrab Feb 15 '17 at 6:37
  • $\begingroup$ @James I did miss the part about the goal being to disrupt the comms. I was mostly focusing on the psychological warfare side of things. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Feb 15 '17 at 15:09
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Which animal?

Helper Monkeys

These are small, intelligent and trainable.

Sure, squirrels might event gnaw through some cables. And bat bombs might land just right. You can even train some of the animals which have been suggested so far, but only a higher intelligence can be guaranteed to destroy the comms network (and small monkeys beat babies hands down, any day :-).

Helper monkeys are already known (and meet your modern day tech requirement :-), and are within the specified size parameter.

How to get them in there?

As per previous suggestions: catapult (with or without parachutes), hot air balloons, etc. BUT, monkeys are natural born climbers. Have them scale the walls.

What about the turrets?

We are sending in quire small animals. A fraction of a size of people. If the gun turrets were manned by humans, they would have a very difficult time tracking and targeting such small, mobile animals. That would waste ammo which might have later been used against your attackers when the comms are disabled.

In fact, you specify automatic gun turrets. Such things are generally designed with a human target size in mind; you do not want them going off every time a bunny rabbit nibbles some grass outside the city walls. It is extremely probably that our monkey could saunter casually up to the walls without the automated guns even registering their presence.

I have a cunning plan ...

I have a cunning plan ...

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Skunks would be the best critter. Getting sprayed by a skunk disables one ability to think clearly, your eyes water uncontrollably, and many people vomit. Inhabitants will chaotically flee the city. But, I'm not sure after how long the city will be inhabitable again.

Catapult a pod full of tranquilized skunks. Attach a parachute to the skunk pod. Luckily, skunks are very aggressive as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ this doesn't really answer the question that is being asked. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 15 '17 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ @James I disagree. While this answer may be short, it outlines safe and effective delivery, and explains why mayhem and communication problems would ensue - exactly what you ask for. If you're looking for something else perhaps you can clarify. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 15 '17 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ The other plus with skunks is if their parachutes don't open, they're still probably going to be pretty disruptive after a rough landing. $\endgroup$ – Jason C Feb 16 '17 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra the animals are supposed to disable the systems, not the people. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 16 '17 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @James All "systems" need some sort of maintenance by humans. Maintaining the physically integrity of a "system" while still disabling it sounds ideal. Basically, using skunks is non-lethal chemical warfare. $\endgroup$ – Just Someone Feb 16 '17 at 18:45
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Its gotta be the bat bomb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_bomb Lightly packed in a barrel that will crack on landing the bats will leave and take up residence in the city, then explode and set things on fire.

If timed incendiary devices are unavailable consider the method of Samson, Father of Small Mammal Warfare. From the Book of Judges /3And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm.” 4So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. /

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    $\begingroup$ I know it's not your suggestion, and far be it from me to fault the Bible, but I can't imagine how it could possibly be a productive use of time to tie torches to the tails of foxes. It's not like they would run very far, especially when they are pairs tied together. Not to mention the torches would go out before long. It would have been far easier for him to just walk short distance the foxes could go and set fire to the grain. Heck, he could probably have tossed each torch the requisite distance. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Feb 14 '17 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind my target is the disabling of the comm and defense networks not creating disease. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 14 '17 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Fire would actually help sterilize things, reducing the chance of disease. @GrinningX Re foxes: the rest of Judges really brings it home. Samson was a very dumb dude. . $\endgroup$ – Willk Feb 14 '17 at 23:28
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How would you deliver the critters via catapult?

I'm not sure squirrels need a parachute. I've seen (and heard) one fall 60 feet onto asphalt and walk or limp away, poor dear.

Though cats tend to survive too, they're injured (Can cats survive a fall from any height? on Skeptics.SE).

Mice might be alright (Small Animal Terminal Velocity on Physics.SE).

This answer claims that a parachute will work with a cat.

Insects might be fine if they're of any use to you.

A badger is only 2 or 3 times the weight of a cat, so maybe the same ballpark (i.e. a parachute is feasible). A badger isn't built for jumping (and landing from a jump) like a cat is, though.

Deciding when to deploy the parachute after launch is key. You may want to use a clockwork timer with a mechanical release mechanism

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protected by James Feb 15 '17 at 21:05

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