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Generally considered to be a real nuisance, the cockatrice, c, is one of the more complex creatures in the game, and often the source of many YASDs. It can turn you to stone instantaneously if you touch it (or even its corpse) with your bare hands (or any other part of your body). If, however, you are wearing gloves, you can pick its corpse up and wield it as a weapon, turning enemies to stone instantaneously (the cockatrice corpse has been nicknamed the rubber chicken by the players who like to use it in this way). This is still extremely dangerous: falling in any manner will cause you to touch it.

The baby version of a cockatrice is a chickatrice, c, and is similarly dangerous, though much weaker, rarer, and less likely to leave a corpse. Chickatrices and cockatrices are often collectively referred to as footrices, particularly in reference to the stoning abilities they and their corpses possess.

Hissing attack[edit]

If you hear the cockatrice's hissing, there is a chance that you may begin turning to stone. If you immediately act to counter this process, you can save your life; but any intrinsic speed will be lost. The hissing attack always succeeds at new moon unless you are carrying a lizard corpse.

For a cockatrice to start turning you to stone, the following must all happen:

  1. The cockatrice must touch you with its petrifying touch attack. ("The cockatrice touches you.")
  2. There is a 1/3 chance the cockatrice will hiss at you if it has not been cancelled. ("You hear the cockatrice's hissing!")
  3. There is a 1/10 chance (1/1 if today is a new moon and you are not carrying a lizard corpse) that you will begin turning to stone. ("You are slowing down." at the end of the current game turn)

Notice that magic cancellation will not protect you against the hiss, although cancelling the cockatrice will prevent it from hissing ("You hear a cough from the cockatrice!"). Good AC will prevent a cockatrice from touching you, however. Note that cancellation's only effect on cockatrices is to block their hissing attack. It does not protect you against petrification due to contact with the cockatrice, living or dead. To prepare for the loss of intrinsic speed, you may tin the corpse of a quantum mechanic and eat the tin after stopping the stoning process.

Ways to be petrified by a cockatrice[edit]

The following list gives the ways a cock- and chickatrice can kill you (except where otherwise stated, "cockatrice" refers to both cockatrices and chickatrices, the baby form of cockatrices), and what there is to be done about it. This list may not be exhaustive. All methods are instantly fatal and assume you are not stoning-resistant, unless noted. Wearing an amulet of life saving will save you if you are petrified.

Petrification by a corpse[edit]

Always petrifies[edit]

  • Get hit by a monster wielding it. (delayed death [1][2]) If you've killed a cockatrice near an enemy that can wield weapons, there is a high chance that one wearing gloves will pick up the corpse and attempt to stone you with it. Be on alert for messages involving the corpse being wielded and if you are blind and cannot see this information, it is best to assume they have wielded it. If an enemy has the corpse and you cannot kill it, you are advised to make your way to another level and wait for the corpse to rot away which will take place in 250 turns. If a moat is nearby and you are wearing boots, you can kick the corpse into the water to make it inaccessable.
  • Eat it. Gaining the 'food appraisal' intrinsic warns you before eating dangerous food, including food that will petrify you. ('This smells like it could be something very dangerous!') It is gained by reading a blessed scroll of food detection, or casting 'detect food' at skilled or expert in divination spells. It lasts for one warning.

Keep food (especially cockatrice corpses) out of slot 'y': this will help avoid accidentally eating something you shouldn't.

Without wearing gloves[edit]

  • Pick it up. If you are polymorphed into a creature without hands that can pick up objects, you will also be stoned.
  • Put it into or take it out of a container.
  • Try to throw or fire it.
  • Wield the corpse.
  • Snag it (with a bullwhip or grappling hook).
  • Steal it (for example, when polymorphed into a nymph).
  • Sacrifice it. This even happens when it's on an altar.
  • Tin the corpse.

Without wearing gloves, blinded[edit]

  • Feeling the corpse when you move or teleport onto the square containing the corpse when not using m.
  • Cease levitating over it when not using m.
  • Look (using ':' at the square containing it).
  • Get expelled from an engulfing monster on a square containing the corpse when not using m.

Without wearing a helmet[edit]

  • Throw it upwards (direction <)

Without wearing boots[edit]

  • Kick it.
  • In possible future versions of NetHack (which have Bug C343-25 fixed), trip over it while fumbling, but currently (3.4.3) it is safe.

Wearing gloves while wielding the corpse as a weapon[edit]

  • Fall down the stairs. This happens if you are burdened or worse, are fumbling, or are punished. However, you will never fall down the stairs if you are flying.
  • Fall down a pit, hole or a trapdoor, including jumping into them while flying.
  • Fall into a chasm created by a drum of earthquake.
  • Fall into a pit created by stepping on a landmine. If you are flying or levitating, you can pass over these without falling (except in Sokoban). Flying won't stop you from triggering the landmine, but it will prevent you from falling into the created pit. Jumping down a hole or trapdoor while flying will stone you.
  • Fall onto a sink while levitating.
  • Lose your gloves to disintegration by a scroll of destroy armor.
  • Lose your gloves to overenchantment (or underenchantment) by a scroll of enchant armor. If the enchantment on the gloves is +4 or higher, reading a non-cursed scroll of enchant armor may destroy them. If the enchantment is -4 or lower, reading a cursed scroll of enchant armor may do the same.
  • Lose your gloves to the monster spell destroy armor. Magic resistance protects you from this spell.
  • Have your gloves taken off by a foocubus. You have charisma-in-20 chance of having the option to stop a foocubus from removing an item of armor. Cancelling them stops the seduction attacks altogether. Nymphs and monkeys cannot steal your gloves if you're holding a weapon. They will try to take your weapon first, petrifying themselves if successful. The corpse can be retrieved by breaking the resulting statue.

Without wearing gloves, wielding the corpse while stoning-resistant[edit]

  • Change to a non-stoning-resistant form. Polymorph control or unchanging can prevent this. Reaching zero HP will change you back to your normal, non-resistant form if you don't have unchanging, and kill you if you do.

Petrification by a living cockatrice[edit]

  • Attack (strike, touch or claw) it with bare, ungloved hands.
    • Due to a bug, even the m command will not be safe if the cockatrice is shown only a warning symbol.
  • Attack it with ungloved hands, wielding a potion.
  • Kick it without wearing boots (as a monster attack or as a command).
  • Bite or sting it (monster attack).
  • Headbutt it without wearing a helmet (monster attack).
  • Hug it without gloves and a cloak (monster attack).
  • Suck its brain with tentacles (as mind flayer or master mind flayer).
  • Attack it while polymorphed into a foocubus ("You smile at the cockatrice seductively. You turn to stone...").
  • Swallow it whole (as trapper, lurker above, or purple worm).

If you have no weapon or gloves, or are polymorphed into a form which has an unusual attack, cockatrices should not be directly attacked: attack them with ranged weapons or spells. If you suck a cockatrice's brain, you turn to stone. If your life is saved, you still suffer the delayed death stoning effects. Minotaurs are the only headbutters capable of wearing helmets (and even then, only cloth and leather hats). Salamanders are the only huggers capable of wearing both gloves and a cloak.

  • Without gloves, attempt to saddle it
  • Without gloves, attempt to untrap it from a pit
  • Hear its hissing (delayed death). A cockatrice will hiss on one-third of successful touch attacks. A cockatrice's hissing normally has a 10% chance of beginning the stiffening process. If it's a new moon, and you aren't carrying a lizard corpse in your main inventory, the chance is 100%. You'll be told when you start or restore the game if it is new moon. Cancelling a cockatrice prevents it from hissing. Magic cancellation from armor does NOT prevent the hissing turning you to stone.
  • Get reduced to zero HP by its attacks. This will kill you normally, but if you weren't petrification resistant, you will leave a statue instead of a ghost. If you were polymorphed into a stoning-resistant form while wearing an amulet of unchanging, you leave a ghost instead.
  • Ride an animal that steps on a polymorph trap and gets polied into a cockatrice. Your magic resistance protects ridden monsters against polytraps.

Other ways to be petrified by a cockatrice[edit]

  • Eat a tin of cockatrice meat.
  • Eat a cockatrice egg (delayed death).
  • Get hit by a cockatrice egg thrown by a monster (delayed death).
  • Without a helmet, throw a cockatrice egg in the air (direction <; not a delayed death).
  • Without gloves, smash a potion of polymorph over a monster, turning it into a cockatrice. (This is bug #C343-31)

Use as a weapon[edit]

A cockatrice corpse is an extremely powerful weapon, but can easily backfire and thus should be used with some caution. To avoid falling in an unknown pit, you should unwield it or be levitating when moving around in places that might have traps. Even if you are levitating and not fumbling (highly recommended), you should stay away from sinks, nymphs and foocubi to be perfectly safe. (But 20 Charisma makes foocubi safe.) Some creatures are immune to stoning, and golems just turn into stone golems, so have a different weapon ready to use.

Due to a minor bug, players polymorphed into a jabberwock will not stone monsters with a wielded cockatrice corpse.[5]


Before Hack 1.0.3, a successful hissing attack was an instadeath; the only safe way to fight a cockatrice was with ranged weapons. The effect of the new moon first appeared in Hack 1.0.2.


Wishing for footrice corpses can sometimes be a good idea when fighting tough monsters or a multitude of them. A good Astral Plane wish would be a blessed partly eaten chickatrice corpse since chickatrices' corpses are more lightweight and being partly eaten makes them even lighter. All Quest nemeses and the endgame riders are stoning resistant.

Here is a quick list of monsters that can be good candidates for stoning.

It's always a good idea to save up a couple of extra charges on your wand of wishing just in case. You never know when Demogorgon shows up or five Archons are generated on the Plane of Fire.

Resistances conveyed[edit]

According to definition in monst.c eating footrice should convey stoning resistance, but this is not implemented[6][7].


In Slash'EM Extended touching a cockatrice with a non-covered body part isn't instantly fatal; rather, the same slow process of stoning is started that usually happens if you hear the cockatrice's hissing. The turns-to-live timer has also been increased, giving the player up to 7 turns to eat a lizard/acidic corpse or use some other way to stop the petrification.

Also, in this variant eating a chickatrice will stun the player for 60 turns, eating a cockatrice may increase the player's intelligence, eating a rubber chicken may increase a player's current/maximum Pw and eating a turbo chicken may grant a level-up.


The cockatrice is alleged to be incubated by a serpent or toad from a rooster's egg. Yolkless eggs were traditionally believed to have been laid by roosters.

Physically, it resembles a rooster with a reptilian tail and bat wings.

The traditional cockatrice is simply deadly. The stoning attack property comes from D&D.

The cockatrice is closely related to the basilisk (a monster not present in vanilla NetHack) referred to in the encyclopedia entry. The exact meaning of basilisk/cockatrice is a bit unclear; sometimes they are used as synonyms, other times a basilisk is a different monster.

Encyclopedia entry[edit]

Once in a great while, when the positions of the stars are
just right, a seven-year-old rooster will lay an egg. Then,
along will come a snake, to coil around the egg, or a toad,
to squat upon the egg, keeping it warm and helping it to
hatch. When it hatches, out comes a creature called basilisk,
or cockatrice, the most deadly of all creatures. A single
glance from its yellow, piercing toad's eyes will kill both
man and beast. Its power of destruction is said to be so
great that sometimes simply to hear its hiss can prove fatal.
Its breath is so venomous that it causes all vegetation
to wither.

There is, however, one creature which can withstand the
basilisk's deadly gaze, and this is the weasel. No one knows
why this is so, but although the fierce weasel can slay the
basilisk, it will itself be killed in the struggle. Perhaps
the weasel knows the basilisk's fatal weakness: if it ever
sees its own reflection in a mirror it will perish instantly.
But even a dead basilisk is dangerous, for it is said that
merely touching its lifeless body can cause a person to
sicken and die.

[ Mythical Beasts by Deirdre Headon (The Leprechaun Library) and other sources ]


  1. mhitu.c, line 937
  2. mhitu.c, line 1191
  3. pickup.c, line 1309
  4. apply.c, line 2174
  5. The exact condition for stoning a monster with a wielded trice corpse seems to be: (in natural form or (hit with weapon attack or hit with claw attack in slot 1 or hit with claw attack in slot 2 as a foocubus or hit with any attack in slot 1 as any L)). This also excludes some monster that cannot wield a weapon (adult dragon, raven, crocodile, and the invalid polyforms Ixoth, Demogorgon, and the Chromatic Dragon).
  6. monst.c, line 184
  7. monst.c, line 176
Parts of this page are based on a spoiler by David Corbett. The original license is unknown.