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A couatl, A, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. A couatl is a slithy serpentine angelic being that has the lowest monster level and difficulty of its monster class, making them likely to be the first angelic beings that a player character encounters. A couatl is strong, has infravision, can be seen via infravision, is capable of flight, and can follow a player character to other levels if it is adjacent. Couatls ignore Elbereth like other angelic beings, and can also be saddled for riding.

A couatl has a poisonous bite attack, a normal bite attack, and a holding attack that acts as a drowning attack if the coautl is over a moat. Couatls possess poison resistance.


Randomly generated couatls may appear in small groups of 2 to 4, and are peaceful towards lawful player characters. They will never generate randomly in Gehennom, though they can generate in external branches such as Vlad's Tower. Hostile couatls can be created via the summon nasties monster spell cast by a lawful spellcasting monster.

A couatl is generated on the Plane of Air at level creation.

A hostile couatl can be generated as the minion of a lawful god.

Couatls cannot be targeted for genocide.


Couatls are somewhat slow at 10 speed, but remain something of a danger for mid-game characters: their holding attack and tendency to generate in groups may result in you being surrounded unless you are careful, and encountering them near moats introduces the risk of instadeath by drowning.

Though couatls are among the weaker lawful monsters that can be generated by a summon nasties spell, they cannot be driven off by Elbereth outside Gehennom like many other nasties - their MR score of 30 also makes them somewhat harder to scare into releasing you, compared to eels and kraken. Despite this, an observant and prepared player can take advantage of their poor 5 AC and make short work of them with relative ease.

As a steed, a couatl is not especially remarkable: among the mounts capable of flight, the couatl is only faster than a dragon, which has better AC alongside a breath attack and is generally much stronger.


The couatl is introduced in NetHack 3.1.0.

From NetHack 3.4.1 to NetHack 3.4.3, including many variants based on these versions, couatls were able to wear amulets, boots, shields, and gloves despite being non-humanoid - this was bug C341-18, and also affected the much stronger ki-rin.


The word couatl, more commonly spelled as coatl (plural cocoah) comes from the classical and Central Nahuatl languages and means "serpent" or "twin". The name of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl is derived form this word and translates literally to "Precious Serpent" or "Quetzal-feathered Serpent": Quetzalcoatl is said to appear in the form of a feathered, rainbow-winged serpent, and feathered serpent deities occurred in the iconography and worship of many Mesoamerican cultures.

The couatl originates from Dungeons & Dragons, where it debuts in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976) for the first edition of the game. A couatl (sometimes pluralized as "couatls" in D&D and NetHack) is a feathered serpent with a pair of rainbow-colored wings that originated from ancient clans of creator-race reptilians, known as saurians or more often as sarrukh. More than 35,000 years before the present age, these sarrukh clans once controlled a mighty empire; as the empire fell, these clans became nomadic and migrated from plane to plane, slowly embracing their darker natures. Some of their kindred despaired at this, and chose to pray to Jazirian - a deity and fragment of the World Serpent - who aided them by transforming them into the first couatls.

In the present age of the various Dungeons & Dragons settings, couatls are rarely seen and tend to avoid interfering in mortal affairs, but are highly intelligent and powerful creatures, and inhabit warm, jungle-like regions; some of them are considered gods, and they are regarded with awe by the inhabitants of their homelands.



In SLASH'EM, the couatl's difficulty is raised to 14, and requires a +2 weapon or better to be hit, while implicitly hitting as a +2 weapon. The couatl's encyclopedia entry is also expanded.

Tame couatl can be given as minions to lawful players at experience level 7 or lower via sacrifice or prayer, though minions cannot be saddled or ridden. Couatl make for a decently strong pet through the early game when obtained this way, especially given their +2 enchantment resistance and ability to hit as +2 - their lower speed and lack of resistances outside of poison can still decrease their ability once tougher monsters begin appearing.


In dNetHack, couatls deal extra damage to holy-hating creatures (such as demons, undead and vampires) with their physical attacks, and have a spellcasting attack that chooses randomly between arcane, clerical, and psionic spells.


In EvilHack, couatl have sleep resistance and shock resistance, making them somewhat harder to fend off or slow down - minions are also dispatched much more often when altars are converted, making it more likely that couatls will be seen early in the game. Additionally, a couatl is capable of drowning a character in lava as well as water.

Encyclopedia entry

A mythical feathered serpent. The couatl are very rare.


A mythical feathered serpent. The couatl are very rare. The couatl are feathered serpents of myth and lore. It is believed that they are distant relatives of dragons, though this remains unproven. So rare as to be considered legendary, the couatl are some of the most beautiful creatures in existence. A couatl has the body of a long serpent and feathered wings the colour of the rainbow. Occasionally sent as messengers from the gods to their erring servants, a couatl will always seek to punish those who deserve it.
[ 2nd ed. Monstrous Compendium, by TSR, Inc. ]