Giant rat

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A giant rat, r, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a tiny carnivorous animal that is a slightly stronger and weightier form of rodent, and can be seen via infravision.

A giant rat has a single bite attack.


Randomly-generated giant rats are always created hostile, and may appear in small groups. A sewer rat can grow up into a giant rat.

Wererats can summon hostile giant rats by calling for help, with a 29 chance of generating a hostile giant rat on each adjacent square, and a character that gets lycanthropy from a wererat can similarly summon tame giant rats using the #monster extended command with at least 10 power.[1]

The giant rat is the first quest monster for Healers, making up 96175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Healer quest. They also appear among the random r that are part of the first quest monster class for Healers and make up 24175 of the monsters randomly generated there.


Giant rats are barely stronger than sewer rats and give slightly more nutrition, but are no more significant as threats. As with sewer rats, only the weakest and/or unluckiest starting characters will have any trouble with giant rats.


The giant rat first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, both based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0.

From NetHack 1.3d to NetHack 2.3e, the giant rat appears if the ROCKMOLE compile-time option is not defined, and is otherwise replaced by the rock mole. NetHack 3.0.0 includes both the giant rat and rock mole in its default bestiary.


The name "giant rat" has been applied to various species of large rats, as well as large rat-like animals, and larger versions of ordinarily-small animals are a popular form of creature in science-fiction and fantasy media.

The giant rat appears in Dungeons & Dragons, where it is explicitly based on "the giant Sumatran sort" in the first edition Monster Manual: the Sumatran rat, or large bamboo rat (Rhizomys sumatrensis), is a species of rodent in the family Spalacidae found in east and southeast Asia - it is one of four species of bamboo rat. Large bamboo rats can reach lengths of nearly 50 cm (20 in) with a 20 cm (7.9 in) tail, and may weigh up to 4 kilograms (8.8 lb); their typical diet includes bamboo roots as well as cultivated tapioca and sugarcane, and they are hunted as food by human beings. The "Giant Rat of Sumatra" that appears in Arthur Conan Doyle story "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" and other stories featuring Sherlock Holmes may also be based on the large bamboo rat.

The giant rats of Dungeons & Dragons settings, also known as "dire rats", are capable of working exceptionally well in groups and often take advantage of numbers to attack more efficiently. They generally avoid attacking stronger creatures, especially those wielding fire, unless driven by extreme hunger or compelled to do so by a wererat or vampire. Giant rats are also excellent swimmers, and inhabit sewers and other subterranean areas such as crypts, dungeons and even graveyards. Giant rat bites had a small chance of transmitting a serious disease, and victims were recommended to seek immediate clerical attention.


In variants that incorporate the Convict patch, Convicts can pacify or tame giant rats by chatting to them. Variants with the Convict role also give the giant rat multiple tiers of growth similar to other starting pets: a sewer rat can grow up into a giant rat, then an enormous rat, and in all variants except UnNetHack they can become a rodent of unusual size.


In SLASH'EM, giant rats are not randomly generated in Gehennom. They can be tamed by throwing cheese at them, and consider the food a treat.

Twenty giant rats appear on the rat level at level creation: eight are placed in the Rat King's room, and three each are placed in four other rooms in the level.

Giant rats appear among the random r that are part of the first quest monster class for Yeomen and make up 24175 of the monsters randomly generated on the Yeoman quest.


In dNetHack and notdNetHack, giant rats are omnivores rather than carnivores.


In xNetHack, giant rats are incapable of passing through iron bars like in NetHack and most other variants.


SpliceHack uses the same map for the rat level as SLASH'EM, with giant rats generated accordingly.


In EvilHack, giant rats are incapable of passing through iron bars as in xNetHack.


In SlashTHEM, an alternate "sewer" map is used for the rat level, with five giant rats placed on particular squares in the Rat King's dwelling at level creation. All other SLASH'EM details apply.


In Hack'EM, the rat level has an equal chance of using either the SLASH'EM room-and-corridors map or the SlashTHEM sewer map, with giant rats generated accordingly. Hack'EM also has the Yeoman role and quest, with SLASH'EM generation details applying.

Encyclopedia entry

Rats are long-tailed rodents. They are aggressive,
omnivorous, and adaptable, often carrying diseases.
"The rat," said O'Brien, still addressing his invisible
audience, "although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware
of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in
the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare
not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes.
The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time
they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or
dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing
when a human being is helpless."

[ 1984, by George Orwell ]