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A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"pet #chatting messages need to be linked from here. Also, we need tips on how to equip your weapon/armor-using pet. [rgrn thread]"

A pet is a tame monster—a monster who accompanies and assists you through the dungeon. By default, each character starts with a pet, though you may acquire many more. The tameness of a pet is affected by how well you care for it.



  • They can be used to determine whether items are cursed.
  • They are useful for stealing from shops without angering the shopkeeper.
  • They can be a great help in combat.
  • They can kill peaceful monsters for you (you are never penalized for the actions of your pets).
  • They will sometimes alert you the presence of nearby traps, by whining or by setting them off.
  • Some pets can be ridden, which is handy if the pet is faster than you or can fly.


  • Carnivorous pets often eat tasty corpses that you may want to eat or sacrifice.
  • Herbivorous pets are tricky to keep fed and may attack you if they are confused from hunger.
  • Pets may kill peaceful monsters that you want to keep alive. This is a particular problem if they are strong enough to kill priests and shopkeepers.
  • Pets may awaken nymphs and leprechauns that you would rather leave asleep.
  • Pets can get in the way of vital spell, wand or ranged attack shots.
  • The more pets you have, the more tedious it becomes to keep them with you. This problem is greatly reduced if you have a magic whistle.
  • A pet that does not eat may become hostile to you because you cannot increase its tameness, which may decrease if you leave it on a different level or commit other game blunders. A hostile polymorphed Vampire lord ex-pet with equipment you gave it who is 8 levels higher than you is a terrifying sight indeed.
  • A pet gremlin near a body of water may grow to an army of gremlins which are very troublesome.

Acquiring pets

Starting pet

Every character enters the dungeon with a pet unless they have specifically set pettype:none in their configuration file. If your role has a definite pet type in the table below, your pet will always be of that type. Otherwise it will be the pet type you have configured, or a kitten or a little dog with equal probability. Note that only Knights can start with a pony.

The pet will begin the game already named if you have set the catname, dogname, or horsename options in the configuration file; in addition, certain roles have built-in default pet names if you did not specify a name. Names of pets (and other critters) can be changed using the call command.

Role Pet Default name
Barbarian <random> Idefix (if little dog)
Caveman little dog Slasher
Knight pony
Ranger little dog Sirius
Samurai little dog Hachi
Wizard kitten

New pets

Most monster types can be tamed (i.e. made into pets) with a scroll of taming, magic harp, or spell of charm monster.

Domestic animals (all growth stages of dog, cat, and horse) can be tamed by throwing certain types of food at them.

  • Dogs and cats can be tamed with "people food" (food rations, pancakes, fortune cookies, etc.) and meat (tripe rations, most non-poisonous fresh meaty corpses, and items created with stone to flesh, such as meatballs.) Eggs can also be used, but they usually just break when thrown.
  • Horses can be tamed with fruits (including the user-specified custom fruit), vegetables, and and most non-poisonous vegetarian corpses.
  • Domestic animals can also be pacified by throwing food items at them that they will not eat, including tins or old corpses.
  • During a full moon, dogs of any growth stage have a 5/6 chance of becoming peaceful instead of tame. Repeated attempts may still succeed.

If you are a werecreature, you can use #monster to summon your brethren, which arrive tame. This tactic can be combined with a polytrap to produce armies of high-quality pets.

If a fresh monster egg hatches while being carried in open inventory, the baby monster may be generated tame. Dragon eggs and eggs laid by the player always hatch tame, as will 50% of any other eggs if the player character is male. The easiest way to get friendly eggs of a given species is to become a female monster of that species and lay the eggs.

Casting the spell create familiar will create a tame domestic animal (13 chance) or a tame random monster (23 chance, unless the randomly created monster is of an untameable type).

Polymorphing into any demon other than a balrog or a foocubus and hitting a monster without using a weapon will occasionally summon pet demons.

Quaffing a smoky potion or rubbing a magic lamp can summon a djinni, which may randomly be tame. The odds of it being tame are never very high, though they are highest when the potion or lamp is uncursed. Most players prefer to bless the item instead, since a wish is usually more valuable than a tame djinni.

The easiest way to acquire the most esoteric and powerful pets (such as Archons) is using figurines, preferably blessed. Figurines will bypass taming restrictions, but most types of restricted pets cannot have figurines of them created in the first place.[1]

You will get a guardian Angel upon entering the Astral Plane unless you are generating conflict or badly aligned.

Reading the blessed Book of the Dead, if you are not standing on the vibrating square, will tame coaligned undead. Other nearby undead will become peaceful and flee.

A magic trap will tame adjacent monsters with 4.8% probability whenever it gives you the "You feel charismatic!" effect. This effect does not check monster MR, so it can tame otherwise resistant monsters. However, magic traps also have a variety of harmful effects, so be prepared to deal with them.

Restrictions on pets

Certain monsters cannot be made tame no matter what you do. In most cases, they will be made peaceful instead. They are:

These restrictions are only checked at the time the monster would be made tame. They never result in an existing monster (e.g. a demilich that grows up into a master lich, a werecreature reverting to human form) becoming untame.

Notably, the Riders are not inherently untameable. Famine and Pestilence can be tamed if you level drain them to the point that their 100 MR is effectively lower, although it may take many tries. Death is immune to level drain, and so cannot be tamed in vanilla NetHack.

Protect your pet

It is in very bad form to attack your pet. You should also be very careful when confused, stunned, or when wielding Stormbringer or Cleaver. If you are blinded or hallucinating, try using the #chat command to figure out which of the strange beings around you is your pet.

Pets are vulnerable, especially when young. In the first few dungeon levels it is incumbent on you to lead, not follow your pet into unexplored rooms, where pits and other traps are far more dangerous to your pet than to you; the humble falling rock trap is probably one of the most well-known culprits, hence its nicknames of "kitty killer" and "puppy pounder". If your pet does get trapped, try #untrapping it. Be warned that unsuccessfully attempting to remove a bear trap will injure your pet, and if done repeatedly may kill it. Attempting to rescue a pet from a pit when there is no adjacent non-pit square (other than the one you are standing on) may have the same effect. Some pets are vulnerable to polymorph traps and level teleporters. Moreover, holes and trap doors can inconveniently separate you from your pet. Thus, it is useful to detect and disarm traps as quickly as possible.

Avoid displacing your pet into water or traps. If you have lots of pets or are in a tight space, they may have no other place to go, and pets will easily drown.

Like you, pets level up by defeating monsters. However, while your character gains experience points that build towards new experience level, the pets gain a random number of hit points between one and one more than the defeated monster's level, and their level is increased to keep it adequate to the hit points they have.[2] That means they can level up faster than the player. Thus, it may be helpful to allow your pet to finish off weak monsters like grid bugs or newts to quickly gain levels early on, so that it can become strong enough to survive the traps and encounters in the lower dungeon levels. See growing up for more details about pet advancement.

Pets cannot escape engulfing attacks, so use telepathy to find and eliminate purple worms, trappers, and lurkers above often.

If your pet is killed, a wand or spell of undead turning can be used to resurrect it, but only if the manner of its demise leaves a corpse. However, it's not guaranteed that the pet will be resurrected tame—if, while your pet was alive, you abused it or were the one who actually killed it (even if accidentally), it will always be resurrected hostile. Even if you didn't abuse or kill it, there's still a chance, though smaller, that it will come back hostile. So you should have the means to (re)tame your pet ready in case you decide to resurrect it.

What pets won't attack

They say discretion is the better part of valor. Pets don't always possess such discretion, and often find themselves overpowered by opponents they take on. Although a pet will not attack a monster whose passive attack could kill it in one round, this calculation takes no account of the monster's weapon or likely counter-attacks. Be especially careful about bringing dogs or cats into the Gnomish Mines, or horses into shops, especially in the deeper levels. Horses seem especially vulnerable to mimics, and have also been known to attack shopkeepers, as they reach a higher level than dogs or cats.

A pet will not attack:

  • a monster which is two or more levels higher than itself[3]. (A fully grown large cat or dog is level 9, a fully grown warhorse is level 10, and a shopkeeper is level 11, so a warhorse may attack a shopkeeper but a large cat or large dog will not.)
  • a floating eye 90% of the time, provided the pet can see.[4]
  • a gelatinous cube 90% of the time.[5]
  • a monster whose maximum passive damage exceeds the pet's current hit points.[6]
  • a peaceful monster if the pet is below 25% of its maximum HP.[7]
  • a peaceful quest leader or quest guardian.[8]
  • a stoning monster, if the pet is not stoning-resistant.[9]

Conflict overrides all of these restrictions, and will cause a pet to attack any nearby monster, provided it doesn't resist.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Pets are now more careful about attacking higher-level monsters, compared to their own level, as their own health drops. Pets will not attack a monster above a certain level, as described in the table below; note that a healthy pet can now attack monsters 2 levels higher.
Pet's HP Maximum level (from 3.7.0)
Full health Pet's level + 2
At least 80% of maximum Pet's level + 1
At least 60% of maximum Pet's level
At least 40% of maximum Pet's level – 1
At least 20% of maximum Pet's level – 2
Below 20% of maximum Pet's level – 3 [10]

Death messages

There are a number of subtly different messages associated with the death of a pet.

You hear the rumble of distant thunder...
You killed it yourself. Penalty −15 alignment and −1 Luck.
You hear the studio audience applaud!
As above while hallucinating.
You feel guilty about losing your pet like this.
You displaced it causing it to drown or die. Penalty −15 alignment and an angry god.
You feel sad for a moment.
Pet starved to death.
<Pet> starves.
Pet starved to death in your presence.
You have a sad feeling for a moment, then it passes.
Pet died in combat or due to a trap.
You have a melancholy feeling for a moment, then it passes.
Pet (light or sphere) exploded.
You have a peculiarly sad feeling for a moment, then it passes.
Pet turned to stone.
You have a sad thought for a moment, then it passes.
Pet (master) mind flayer ate the brain of Medusa.
You have a strangely sad feeling for a moment, then it passes.
Pet clay golem was canceled by a gremlin.
You have a queasy feeling for a moment, then it passes.
Pet purple worm, trapper, or lurker above swallowed one of the Riders.
May <pet> rust in peace.
Pet iron golem was hit by a rusting attack.
May <pet> rot in peace.
Pet wood golem was hit by a rotting attack.
May <pet> roast in peace.
Pet paper or straw golem was hit by a fire attack.

There is no special penalty for abandoning or losing track of pets, eating your pets' corpses (normal penalty from corpses of the pets' species still apply, such as cannibalism for cat and dog corpses), or (surprisingly) for genociding your pet's species or class.


Your pets follow you along stairways and portals if they are adjacent to you when you climb, descend, or enter (except when they're busy eating or can't move).

Life can be frustrating if you are considerably faster than your pet. A wand of speed monster can be helpful, as can a whistle, especially a magic whistle. However, speed beyond normal player speed does not increase your pet's damage output (except if confused or conflicted).

Removal of items which may be cursed from corridors can't hurt, unless one of the items is a loadstone. In that case (or if a corridor is blocked by a trap), try digging a path around the item or trap in question.

If you try to walk on a pet's square, you have 67 chance of swapping places with it unless it's a long worm or you are in a shop or punished.[11] If the pet can't move, but you otherwise would swap places, you have a 16 chance of swapping places anyway.[12]

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

It is no longer possible to displace a pet out of a trap, directly onto a trap, into water or into other hazardous terrain. It is also no longer possible to displace a sleeping or paralysed pet, but a sessile pet can sometimes be displaced. It may be possible to displace a pet near a trap, causing it to move onto the trap.

Feeding pets

For the three cardinal domestic species, appropriate foods for routine feeding are as for taming. Eggs (including rotten eggs) are appropriate for feeding carnivorous (and omnivorous) pets like dogs and cats, but they should be dropped with the d command, not thrown. (Eggs that pets will not eat are probably cockatrice and should be #named and saved.) Additionally, starving pets will eat some foods which they will not otherwise (e.g., starving horses will eat "people food" such as food rations).

Pets will never eat food that would cause them harm: pets without poison resistance won't eat poisonous corpses; pets without acid resistance won't eat acidic corpses; pets without petrification resistance won't eat footrice corpses (or eggs) or Medusa's corpse; and no pet will eat green slime or Rider corpses.

Pets gain two to eight times more nutrition than players from food (smaller ones gain more), but take the same time to eat it.[13] A starving pet will "devour" the food, taking only half the normal time required to eat it, but also gaining only 34 the nominal nutrition. Generally, your pets (especially the carnivorous ones) will feed themselves. Sometimes they will feed you, as they will kill monsters of types that they will not eat but that you might, or you stand a chance of beating them to the corpse. For some pet types, notably domesticated animals and intelligent monsters, it is advisable to #chat with your pet frequently. Their vocalizations change noticeably when they are hungry.

When a pet is starving (500 turns after they became hungry) they become confused and their maximum hit points is divided by 3.[14] See "Messages", below.

Pets can be trained to more reliably drop items near you by giving them treats after they drop something; this willingness to 'fetch' is known as apport.

Every time a pet eats (no matter what they eat), their tameness goes up by 1, to a max of 20.

Pets left on another level from you lose tameness but still burn nutrition. If a pet on a different level would have starved before becoming untame, it will become hostile. Otherwise, it will either become peaceful or hostile. If you cannot find enough food for your herbivorous pet, leave it on another level and let it become untame rather than letting it starve, then re-tame it later when food is available.

Carnivorous and omnivorous pets will eat wraith corpses and gain one level for each, capped at 15 over base level. (There is no cap for gains from engulfing live wraiths.) They will also eat chameleon and doppelganger corpses, which will polymorph them.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Pets will no longer eat shapeshifter corpses unless they are starving, or they have been mistreated enough to lower their tameness to 1. This does not apply to genetic engineer corpses, which can also polymorph a pet, as non-poison-resistant pets will not eat them anyway.

Pets can also gain resistances by eating corpses, as introduced in this commit.


<pet> is confused from hunger.
Your pet is starving. It becomes confused from hunger, its maximum HP is reduced to 25%, and it has 250 more turns to live.[15]
You feel worried about your <pet>.
As above, but your pet is out of sight.

Preferred diet

Depending on a pet's diet, items it's willing to eat fall into one of four categories:

  • Treats, which can be used to increase the pet's apport
  • Good food, which the pet will eat even when not hungry
  • Acceptable food, which the pet will eat only if hungry or starving
  • Emergency food, which the pet will eat only if starving

The following rules apply to the majority of pets:

Class Carnivore Herbivore
  • vegan corpses (any of b j F)
  • "people food"
  • vegan non-corpse non-"people" comestibles
  • vegan non-corpse non-"people" comestibles
  • "people food"

"People food" includes:

Omnivorous pets use the highest of the carnivorous and herbivorous rankings of a food item; e.g. apples, carrots, and tripe are all treats to them.

The following are exceptions to the normal rules:

Herbivorous mounts

Knights who are low on vegetarian food but have some vegetarian treats may resort to unorthodox methods to keep a pet pony fed. A variation on the Knight's method will work for non-knight characters with a pet, vegetarian, domestic animal:

A carrot or apple will provide a pet a few hundred nutrition and one point of tameness. If a vegetarian pet is close to starving and/or feral, a player may instead choose to let it go feral and then re-tame it by throwing it a treat. Its nutrition will be reset to 1000 and its tameness to 10.

Knights can accomplish this by leaving the near-starving pet on another level; non-knights can simply #ride and un- #ride the mount a few times. See Riding.

Equipment for pets

Monsters can use equipment like the player can, too, although there are a lot fewer things they can use. The best way to equip a pet is to gather the items you want to give to the pet, put them in a dead end, and stand on them till your pet comes near, swap places with the pet and keep it standing over the pile till it picks up something and starts using it. If it drops something it had been using, you will need to swap places again to pick up their old stuff. For replacing equipment, the best way to do that is in a 2 long corridor with a locked door: +@A. This will take a long time as pets don't like to pick up things if you are nearby. If you just have a pile of stuff and they don't have anything that is being replaced, locking them in a closet will be faster, as pets with large values of apport are more likely to pick up things if you are far away. This only works if the pet isn't carrying a key of its own.

Armor and extrinsics

Many humanoid monsters will pick up and wear armor. Only medium-sized monsters can wear body armor or shirts, and only medium or smaller monsters will fit into cloaks. All monsters know the enchantment of armor, and will replace one piece of armor with something that gives more AC [16][17] than what they are currently wearing. For example, your pet Archon will replace their +0 shield of reflection with a +3 small shield in some valkyrie's bone pile.

Generally for pets, you want to give them magic resistance, magic cancellation, and reflection. All items that work for the player also work for monsters, provided they fit into it or actually wear amulets. Silver-haters will not use silver items. Large pets get MC1 only from the cornuthaum. Feel free to load up on metal armor, it does not hinder monster spellcasting. Magicbane grants magic resistance, but monsters can swap artifact weapons, see below. Pets will not hang on to quest artifacts.

Most magical armor is not as useful for monsters as it is for players. Speed boots make monsters fast, but not very fast. An alchemy smock confers only poison resistance. Dragon scale mail and scales will grant their extrinsics to monsters. Other armor properties than those discussed do not affect monsters. After deciding what extrinsics your can give your pet with equipment, the rest of their armor should be to improve AC.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Pets can gain fire, cold, shock, sleep, poison, and disintegration resistances by eating corpses. This makes reflection a less crucial property, although death rays are still an issue, and puts inediate pets at a relative disadvantage.


Monsters with a weapon attack will be able to pick up and wield weapons. They will ignore the enchantment and BUC status of the weapon, and instead select which one to wield based on type. (Pets do not pick up cursed objects.) They prefer (in this order): any usable artifact weapon, cockatrice or chickatrice corpse, tsurugi, runesword, dwarvish mattock, two-handed sword, battle-axe, katana, unicorn horn, crysknife, trident, long sword, elven broadsword, broadsword, scimitar, silver saber, morning star, elven short sword, dwarvish short sword, short sword, orcish short sword, mace, axe, dwarvish spear, silver spear, elven spear, spear, orcish spear, flail, bullwhip, quarterstaff, javelin, aklys, club, pick-axe, rubber hose, war hammer, silver dagger, elven dagger, dagger, orcish dagger, athame, scalpel, knife, worm tooth.[18]

Weapons in italics are two handed, and will be chosen only if the monster is strong and is not wearing a shield. A cockatrice corpse will not be chosen if it would immediately stone the monster. Stilettos and grappling hooks will never be chosen.

If a monster has a wielded artifact weapon and picks up any other, it can switch to the new artifact and drop the old, provided the artifact is not cross-aligned and the conditions for two-handed weapons are met (if applicable). "Can" here means the first admissible artifact in the game's internal list of carried objects is chosen. If you want your pet to keep a specific artifact, give it to it while it is carrying as few objects as possible.

Pets do not use ranged weapons, though there is a patch for this purpose. As of 3.6.1, they will, however, use their breath weapon if they have any.[19]

Intelligent monsters

Some monsters with hands will pick up and carry one unicorn horn, and apply it if afflicted. Prevent the confused pet arch-lich this way!

Some monsters can also pick up keys, and will unlock doors, perhaps to eat priests you have protected. Be warned!

Monsters with hands can put on amulets of life saving or reflection. They have no preference, just whatever they wore first. If you want them to remove it, you have to get a nymph or foocubus to steal it, polyself into such a stealer, or have the monster die. Your stealing attack only reduces a pet's tameness if you do not successfully acquire an object. The monster's amulet of life saving will not be used up if it was nonliving (undead, golem, manes, vortex).

Polymorphed monsters that were wearing an amulet will still wear said amulet. Those who want a level 49 purple worm might consider polymorphing one from an intelligent monster, as opposed to taming one. This may be time-consuming, but it will prevent any disintegration or death ray accidents.

Intelligent monsters will quaff potions of gain level. The max level they can get to is 49 (50 for named demons, but they cannot be tamed).

Equipment for pet owners

There is a lot of equipment that can make pets more useful or make keeping them close easier.

  • Magic whistles will bring all pets to as close to the player as possible.
  • Stethoscopes will reveal information about your pet, including how injured it is, its level, and its maximum HP. Wands of probing will also give you this information and any equipment the pet is wearing, but they are less efficient due to their limited number of charges.
  • Leashes will keep pets nearby.
  • Saddles can be used to ride some pets. Riding boots and gloves will make applying a saddle easier.
  • Carried treats will cause pets to stay close to the player; this can be annoying if they're always underfoot.
  • Spells of (extra) healing for healing pets, charm monster for acquiring new pets, stone to flesh for making treats for carnivores and omnivores.
  • Spell of stone to flesh to revive stoned pets; they may revive hostile.
  • Wand or spell of undead turning to revive killed pets; they may revive hostile.
  • Spell of detect monster (or potions of monster detection) to locate pets.
  • Wand of speed monster, or potions of speed to make pets fast.
  • Eucalyptus leaves will act like magic whistles if blessed, and tin whistles otherwise. Trees in Minetown may give several if kicked, and otherwise these can be created by polypiling otherwise useless comestibles.
  • Potions of healing, extra healing, full healing, restore ability, and gain ability will all restore a monster to full hit points if it hits them (wielded or thrown). Hitting a pet with a wielded potion counts as abuse, however, and may later make it resurrect as hostile.
  • Potions of unholy water will heal 2–12 HP for demons, undead, and lycanthropes.
  • A key to lock your pet in a room or closet, so it can heal, or equip itself, or to have it not attack something you want kept alive. Some pets may be smart enough to pick up keys to unlock doors.
  • A blindfold or towel if you have telepathy to locate your pets.
  • A bag of holding (or a sack) is useful to carry all the other stuff and pet food, keep treats hidden, and to rob shops.
  • Crystal balls, including the Orb of Fate and the Orb of Detection, can be used for detecting traps that could harm pets, and can be recharged indefinitely with the Platinum Yendorian Express Card; crystal balls are rather heavy to carry, however.

Preferred pets

The following is a list of monsters that make good good pets. It is divided into two parts: the first consists of pets which a player might specifically work to obtain, for example through a wish or a polytrap. The second consists of pets that are useful (e.g. if you get them through a polytrap or magic trap), but not usually worth any extra effort to obtain.

Worth the effort of trying to obtain

  • The Archon is by general consensus the best all-around pet, with a high maximum level, powerful physical attacks, the ability to heal and haste itself, and its blinding gaze. They can fly, don't eat, and can wield weapons and wear some armor. Archons are rare to find and difficult to tame, however, and a hostile Archon is a dangerous foe to stand near as you repeatedly try to tame it. Monsters blinded by the Archon won't respect Elbereth, a possible concern for low-level characters. A "blessed figurine of an Archon" is a common first wish for pacifists, and is popular in general. They cannot be obtained from a polytrap, and therefore must be wished for or found, and they never leave corpses to revive.
  • Ki-rin don't eat, can fly, and have superb attacks. In particular it is noteworthy as it can take a saddle as well, making it an excellent mount, especially given that its high magic resistance and base level will prevent it from bucking you if you are generating conflict. They are best for a knight, as it will irrevocably lose one point of tameness each time a non-knight mounts it. Like Archons, ki-rin are not found via polytraps and never leave corpses.
  • Titans have excellent base level, armor class, and magic resistance, are fast, can spell-cast, fly, wield a weapon, and wear non-body armor. They are too large to be engulfed, and so won't be instantly killed by digesting monsters, a common cause of death for Archons and ki-rin. They do eat, which, though sometimes an inconvenience, does mean their tameness will increase. Thus when you fall down a shaft that herd of pet Titans won't be wild by the time you find your way back. They can leave corpses to revive, and are large enough to always do so if their manner of death permits it. Titans can be obtained from a polymorph trap, and may be the strongest pet available by such means.
  • Purple worms of high enough level can swallow and thus instantly kill almost any enemy. A pet worm can be leveled up quickly by setting it loose in a graveyard containing wraiths. Their engulfing attack is not subject to corpse-leaving odds. However, that means you need to keep them away from chameleons, doppelgangers, and green slime, which will transform your pet into something less effective. Digested monsters don't leave corpses for you to eat, nor any special drops they otherwise would, such as unicorn horns. Some powerful monsters such as Titans and dragons are too large to be engulfed.
  • Balrogs have very powerful attacks, a high base level, and a good armor class. They're a valid polymorph form, making them more practical to acquire than Archons or ki-rin, and are inediate, so they'll be more available for combat than purple worms or Titans. Their base speed is fairly low.

Nice to have if you get one

  • Centaurs can use weapons and (some) armor, may be saddled and ridden, and are easy to keep fed. These are potentially excellent early pets for heroes with a charm monster spell or a Scroll of taming.
  • Cockatrices can petrify many foes. They don't have much HP, however, and their low maximum level will prevent them from attacking tougher monsters. Consider using conflict to force your pet 'trice into combat (and watch your messages to be sure you aren't turning to stone).
  • Dragons can fly, can serve as a mount, and have very good attacks. Silver and gray dragons are immune to death rays; the former is also immune to disintegration blasts, while the latter is immune to polymorph traps. Yellow dragons are stoning-resistant. In 3.6.0 and older versions, they only used their breath weapons in the presence of conflict, and then only in your direction; as of 3.6.1, pets are allowed to use a breath or spit weapon against hostile monsters.[19] Pet dragons can be obtained by polymorphing yourself and laying eggs; eggs hatch into baby dragons which can grow up to full size.
  • Winged gargoyles can fly and also have decent AC and attacks; in addition, they are resistant to stoning and starvation. Winged gargoyles are very hard to get by egg-laying; most winged gargoyle eggs hatch into regular gargoyles, and gargoyles do not grow up to winged gargoyles.
  • Jabberwocks, especially hasted, have excellent damage potential, and can fly and take a saddle. They lack resistances, though, and are thus vulnerable to being lost to traps, death or disintegration rays, and cockatrices.
  • Arch-liches can reach terrifyingly high levels, are always by your side even without the aid of a magic whistle, can heal themselves, and have a powerful freezing touch attack. They are impotent against cold-resistant monsters, however, and frequently get in your way. Since they will always teleport to your side, it can be very difficult to prevent them from killing priests and shopkeepers. You cannot tame master- or arch-liches directly, but you can tame a lich or demilich and let it grow up.
  • A Mastodon can substitute for a jabberwock as a pet. It has the same speed, and they have higher maximum level (30), which means more HP and being aggressive against more difficult enemies. Mastodons do in 8d8 damage instead of the jabberwock's 8d10, but that's still quite a lot. They're herbivores, so you can eat most of corpses they leave behind.
  • Mind flayers do a lot of melee damage with their tentacle attacks, and can clear out monsters from a distance with their psychic blasts, which won't damage you as long as the flayer isn't hostile. A confused pet flayer could be disastrous, however, so make sure it has a unicorn horn. A psychic blast could also wake the Wizard of Yendor before you're ready to deal with him. Their very large number of attacks per turn also make them very weak to passive attacks—keep them away from jellies!
  • Minotaurs are fast, hit very hard, and are guaranteed to appear on a maze-type level. They have 0 MR, so a scroll of taming is guaranteed to snare one on the first try (the spell of charm monster is of course dependent on your casting success rate).
  • Skeletons don't breathe, don't eat, slow monsters, wield weapons, and will resist cold, sleep, poison, petrification, and wands and fingers of death. They are not randomly generated, but can be found in Orcus-town or produced by a polytrap or by polypiling unihorns.
  • Trolls have good physical attacks, and if killed may revive tame. They may also revive hostile, however, so be careful. Make sure your other pets don't eat your former pet's corpse.
  • Vampires and vampire lords don't breathe or eat, can fly, can wield all weapons and armor, and will regenerate. They are also immune to death rays. But in 3.6 vampires now spontaneously turn into fog clouds, wolves, and—especially—vampire bats and remain in that form unless defeated in battle. Wolves and vampire bats do eat (and move fast enough to steal corpses from you) but they are nearly useless in battle compared to vampires. You can keep a vampire pet in its true form with a ring of protection from shape changers.

Cursed items

Pets will not pick up cursed items.

You can curse-test items with your pet. Except when there is pet food on the same spot, pets do not like to step on or hide under cursed items and will "move reluctantly" when they do. A leashed or whistled pet will not reliably display the message. (Caution: the dunce cap and helm of opposite alignment become cursed when worn). This is why cursed items in corridors can stand between you and your pet (see speed, above).

Similarly, silver-hating pets never pick up silver items.[20]

Divine minion pets are not bothered by cursed items.[21]

Learning from pets

Anthropomorphic pets can be sources of "transferrable (between sessions) knowledge" in that observation of their weapon-wielding and armor-wearing preferences can yield information about the relative merits of such items, in general and in specific situations.

Observation of various pet species in combat (as well as of combat situations your pets seem to avoid) can also be very instructional. For example, if you watch your pet attack a floating eye, you will learn about their paralysis attack without experiencing it yourself.

Generally speaking, if a corpse is safe for your pet to eat, it is also safe for you. The exceptions to this rule are that it is not a good idea for you to eat your own species, dogs, cats, bats (which will stun you) or violet fungi (which will make you hallucinate). Pets will also eat corpses from monsters such as n and l that could give you the often undesirable teleportitis.

Resurrecting or sacrificing pets

If your pet died and left a corpse, you can try to resurrect it using a wand or spell of turn undead. If it was stoned, you can try the spell of stone to flesh. A scroll of food detection or the spell of detect food can be used to locate your pet's corpse before it rots away.

Revived pets, or pets saved by an amulet of life saving, aren't guaranteed to revive tame[22]. If you killed the pet yourself or abused it at least three times, it will never revive tame, and has only a one in (times abused) chance of being peaceful, or none at all if you abused it at least ten times. If you didn't kill your pet and abused it at most twice, its tameness becomes a random number between zero and its prior tameness, with equal probability. If the new tameness is zero, the pet is no longer tame, but it still has a 50% chance of being peaceful.

If a pet remains tame after revival or life saving, or if you retame it afterwards, its nutrition, abuse, and apport are reset as though it was a brand new pet.

Do not sacrifice former pets if they died tame. A feral former pet doesn't count as a pet for this purpose.



AceHack implements ranged combat for pets; however, they currently die much faster than in vanilla, as monsters are more aggressive toward them. (This is planned to be fixed before release.)


dNetHack implements several changes and improvements for pets.

  • Ranged combat and spellcasting is enabled for pets.
  • Pets and hostile monsters will more actively seek out and attack each other.
  • The total number of pets on the current dungeon level is limited to 13 the character's charisma score. If this limit is exceeded, the weakest pets will quickly untame, typically becoming peaceful.
  • Charm monster and scrolls of taming are now single-target spells.
  • The character can now take any item from a pet using the #loot command, and may equip pets with armor using the #equip command.
    • Armor now has an intrinsic size. Most pieces of armor must be the same size and the creature you want to wear the armor. Armor of unspecified size is Medium (human) sized.
      • Most armor found randomly in the dungeon is sized for humans.
    • Body armor and helms also have an intrinsic shape.
      • Most armor and helms found randomly in the dungeon are shaped for humanoids (no modifier displayed).
      • Barded armor fits roughly animal-shaped creatures, such as dogs, cats, horses, lizards, and spiders.
      • Barded helms fit creatures with long heads, such as dogs, cats, horses, lizards, and snakes.
      • Segmented armor fits roughly-snake shaped creatures, mostly snakes and most nagas.
      • Snakeneck helms fit creatures with snake-like heads and necks attached to non-snake bodies. Examples are serpent men of Yoth, serpent-necked lionesses, bandersnatches, and jabberwocks.
      • Centaur armor fits creatures with humanoid torsos attached to roughly animal-shaped lower bodies, which includes proper centaurs as well as driders (sprow, however, have humanoid bodies).
      • Snakeleg armor fits creatures with humanoid torsos attached to serpentine lower bodies. Examples include mariliths, salamanders, and ancient nagas.
      • Snakeback armor fits creatures with combined serpentine and animal-like body plan. Deep Wyrms and Deep Wyrmlings are the only such creatures.
  • A new skill, beast mastery, is implemented. Higher skill improves pets' damage and AC, and cause pets further away to follow you downstairs. The skill is trained by witnessing your pets engaging in combat. Convicts, droven priests, dwarven nobles and wizards can get basic beast mastery, knights, elven, droven nobles and tourist can get skilled, and healers, troubadours, nobles and rangers can get expert.
  • Two new commands, #wait and #come allows you to tell a pet to stay on the current level or follow you between levels as normal. These are useful if you want to have a pet not follow you but find it difficult to do so because of the increased follow range due to high beast mastery skill.

dNetHack preferred pets

  • If wishing for a pet, the strongest non-unique angels are the best candidates.
    • The counterpart of the vanilla Archon is the Throne Archon, a high-damage spellcaster that favors the lightning bolt spell and can buff itself. Its large size makes it harder find equipment for.
    • A Light Archon fires volleys of 7 (magically created) silver arrows for high potential damage against demons, but its large size and irregular body shape make equipping one difficult.
    • A Surya Deva frequently casts mass cure, healing all nearby peaceful monsters as well as the player. Independent dancing blade means it can attack multiple targets per turn. It also casts fire pillar. Its large size makes it harder to find equipment for, and each component of the Surya has a lower damage output than other choices. Fire damage is less useful than lighting.
    • A Mahadeva deals very high single-target melee damage and has the highest base level (30). However, it's also incredibly dangerous to have as a pet. Its weapon attack will make repeated attacks until it finally misses, and conventional wisdom would be to give it gauntlets of dexterity maybe and a weapon with good to-hit. This is a really awful idea. If the Mahadeva gets confused you can very easily find yourself dead in a single turn unless you've got excellent AC (as in, "good even for end-game AC"). If you do, be careful to stay at range from your pet whenever possible.
    • A Tulani Eladrin casts cold, shock, and fire damage spells, and its medium size means you can easily find and enchant a full set of armor for it. However, it can catch the player in fireball explosions. It has the lowest base level (18) and chooses spells randomly, so damage drops off against targets with resistances. It only uses one weapon attack per turn.
    • An Ara Kamerel comes with a Kamerel Vajra and casts open wounds in combat, resulting in high single-target damage. It resists shock damage and petrification. It reincarnates using gold golems, though it reverts to level 15 in the process. Itsarge size makes it harder to find equipment for, and its speed of 9 is rather slow. It can be permanently killed by some enemies.
    • An ancient of death inhales life and exhales death once per round, and is able to affect enemies through walls. However, its speed of 4 is very slow.
    • An ancient of ice is a less useful version of the ancient of death, since more targets resist fire and ice.
  • If searching the dungeon for endgame-capable pets:
    • Lady Oona has a decent base level (20), and her medium size means you can easily find and enchant equipment for her. She can wield weapons and casts a strong elemental damage spell. However, she is slow (speed 9), and her elemental damage spell is either fire, lightning, or cold, chosen randomly at the start of the game.
    • Medusa has a decent base level (20), and her medium size means you can easily find and enchant equipment for her, though her snake-like lower body does complicate matters. She can wield weapons and has numerous natural attacks. She constantly petrifies anything able to see her, though MC3 armor will block this effect.
    • Grue has a decent base level (20) and is very fast in the dark, with very high damage. It has a digestion attack and can be ridden. Its nonstandard body-type makes it unable to equip most types of armor, however. It can sometimes get itself killed by using its digestion attack.


Main article: Pet (SLASH'EM)

SLASH'EM adds god-granted minions and does things somewhat differently (spoiler).


In FIQHack pets actively seek out hostile monsters to pursue. Whistling a tin whistle will temporarily disable this behavior.

You can throw items to intelligent non-paralyzed pets to force them to pick them up.

When considering what equipment to wear, pets will prefer items thrown at them over anything else, the more recently thrown the better.

See also

  • Apport – a measure of a pet's willingness to fetch items
  • Tameness – a measure of a pet's loyalty to its owner
  • Growing up – for information about pet advancement

External links


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