Posted by Darkness on May 15, 2023 (Updated: 06-Sep-2023)

The Facehugger is the first stage of the Alien life cycle and is featured in every Alien film and throughout the expanded universe of comics, novels and video games.



Facehugger on Kane.

The Facehugger is usually beige in colour and looks like a hybrid of a crab and spider. It’s comprised of an abdomen, finger-like legs that allow it to crawl really quickly, and a spine-like tail that allows it to leap really far. The creature is approximately 1.55 meters in length (including the tail), with a long retractable tube-like mechanism extruding from the mouth, that can extend to a length of 50-70cm. On either side of the Facehugger’s body, there are two bag-like bladder structures that circulate air into a host’s lungs when it has attached itself to them.


The Facehugger’s long digits allow it to crawl over a variety of surfaces at incredible speed. They’re used to gripping a potential host’s head and are incredibly strong, making it almost impossible for somebody to rip it off with their bare hands.


Dallas, Ash & Facehugger


The creature’s tail helps it to propel itself across huge areas and it can be used to grip around a host’s neck when it has attached itself to a victim.

Acidic Blood

Like all other stages of the Alien life cycle, the Facehugger possesses acidic blood. Injuring them results in acid spilling out everywhere. When Kane was attacked in the Derelict, the acid burnt straight through his helmet. When Dallas and Ash tried to cut a digit of the creature on the Nostromo in an attempt to remove it from Kane, the acid burned through several decks of the ship.


Facehuggers aren’t as intelligent as adult Xenomorphs and only have one objective – to attach themselves to a host and they can be relentless in doing so even if it means risking its death in the process. They have been known to ambush their victims when they least expect it – perhaps when they are distracted or incapacitated in some way. The creature also seems to know how much acid to secrete if it needs to burn through something to reach a host’s face without actually injuring the host.

The creatures do seem to gauge how much of a threat a host is. If a host is deemed to be a threat, it will be aggressive while a host who is immobile and cocooned, the Facehugger will be more calm. We can see when Newt was cocooned on LV-426, the Facehugger came out of its egg quite slowly while the one that attacked Kane in the Derelict was extremely violent.

Facehugger Stages

Stage 1 – Inside an Alien Egg

Before detecting a potential host, the Facehugger is completely lifeless inside an Alien Egg. When the Egg detects a suitable host nearby, it transfers all of its energy into the Facehugger and then the creature springs to life. The Egg opens and the Facehugger will use its powerful tail to launch itself at its victim. Its expulsion is often so violent and aggressive that the victim has little time to react and is subdued in a matter of seconds. Even if the host did escape, the Facehugger is more than capable of chasing after a host with little regard for its own safety. They can climb and jump over numerous surfaces and can quickly overwhelm their victim. Facehuggers can survive outside of an Alien egg for a period of time.


Stage 2 – Subduing its Host

After the Facehugger has found its victim and attached itself to them, it renders them unconscious using a paralytic chemical that appears to be transferred through skin contact alone. Its effects are extremely quick, rendering a victim unconscious in a matter of seconds. It’s speculated that the Facehugger or the Alien egg itself is able to determine how big a potential host is, so it knows how much of the toxin to administer. Perhaps, if it was too low, the host wouldn’t lose consciousness but if it was too much, the host might suffer from toxic shock and die. The Facehugger primarily uses a chemical to subdue its victim, it can also use its tail to wrap it around its victim’s throat until they lose consciousness.


Kane is attacked by a Facehugger.

Given the relative size of a Facehugger, humans and Predators seem to be the most compatible host though it did infect a dog on Fiorina 161. It’s speculated it wouldn’t be able to attach itself to a creature much smaller than that. It can also infect hosts much bigger than humanoid creatures. Engineers have been known to have been infected and they a lot bigger than human beings. It’s possible multiple Facehuggers could attack a single large host – a few could subdue it while one implants the Chestburster. Adult Xenomorphs have been known to hold down a victim while the Facehugger infects them.

Stage 3 – Implantation

When the Facehugger attaches itself to a host, it inserts its proboscis down the victim’s throat. The proboscis is used to create a suitable atmosphere for the host to breathe. This is evidenced when Kane was attacked in an unbreathable atmosphere and the Facehugger breached his space helmet. The Facehugger was able to keep him alive until other members of the crew brought him back to the Nostromo.  The second use of the proboscis is to implant the Chestburster embryo. Initially, it was speculated that it was also used to administer the chemical that subdues the host but it was later discovered that simple skin contact was enough to transfer the toxin.


It’s theorised that the Facehugger doesn’t actually implant a Chestburster embryo but adds an unknown substance into the host’s throat. The substance then causes the host’s cells to restructure which then causes the host to create the Chestburster using its own biological material. The implantation process usually takes a few hours and the Facehuggers sometimes stay attached to the host for a while afterwards to make sure the Chestburster is secure. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. The Facehuggers seen in Antarctica and the Planet 4 Facehugger on the Engineer homeworld did seem to allow for a much faster implantation process lasting only a few minutes.

Facehuggers can be removed during the implantation process but it would be fatal to the host. With its acidic blood, strong grip and ability to impose a sedative on skin contact, it makes it incredibly difficult to remove a Facehugger from its victim. It has been known that the Facehugger would rather kill its host if it realises it is about to be removed. It could subdue its host with a chemical overdose or cause internal injuries to its host by using its proboscis.


A Facehugger attacks Ripley.

Before a Facehugger has subdued its victim, it’s almost impossible for them to remove it by themselves. Once the Facehugger’s digits have locked onto the host’s head, you cannot remove it. Even a creature such as a Predator or Engineer isn’t strong enough to stop it. There have been a few instances where somebody has stopped one. When Ripley was trapped in a room with two of them on Hadley’s Hope, she stopped one by putting her hand in front of her face until the Colonial Marines assisted her. On the Auriga, Ripley 8 removed one from her face without help but she had enhanced physical strength due to the Xenomorph DNA. It’s unknown if being underwater hindered the Facehugger. Perhaps the chemical used to sedate a host doesn’t work underwater

Stage 4 – Death

When the Facehugger knows the Chestburster is secure, it will remove itself from the host and die. Some Facehuggers have been found dead alongside their host, others have crawled away and hid before dying and some have been found dead still attached to their host. It’s not known how long a Facehugger can survive once it has detached itself but it doesn’t seem to be very long. The host generally doesn’t seem to remember the Facehugger’s attack but often recalls having dreams of smothering. Some hosts may suffer symptoms after implantation including a sore throat, nausea, hunger and chest pains while other hosts have no symptoms at all.


Ripley finds the dead Facehugger.

Facehugger Variants

  • Super Facehugger – This was found on Fiorina 161 and is capable of infecting two hosts – one with a Queen embryo.
  • Planet 4 Facehugger – This was engineered by David on the Engineer homeworld.

Facehugger Movie Appearances

  • Alien (1979)
  • Aliens (1986)
  • Alien 3 (1992)
  • Alien Resurrection (1997)
  • Alien vs Predator (2004)
  • Alien vs Predator Requiem (2007)
  • Alien Covenant (2017)

You can continue reading to see more information relating to each Facehugger in each film.

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Comments: 4
  1. this thing has no eyes, no nose, no ears how the heck does it ‘see’ anything? is it like Heat seeking or something? I receon that it has some sort of 6th sense where it can feel the breath of its victom and just lunch’s it’s selef in the genral driction and hopes that it dosen’t miss.

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