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

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

"pet #chatting messages need to be linked from here. A pet equipment section is already present, but if possible could be expended with tips from a relevant rgrn thread"

Starting pet

Every character enters the dungeon with a pet, unless the player has 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; for other roles, it will either 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 or name commands.

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


In addition to starting with one as above, there are other methods to obtain pets: most monster types can be tamed and 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 such as tripe rations, fresh meaty corpses that are not harmful, and items such as meatballs created with stone to flesh. 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 most safe vegetarian 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.
  • Domestic animals can also be pacified by throwing food items at them that they will not eat, including tins or old corpses.

Spells, books and scrolls

The spell of charm monster can be used to tame an adjacent monster, as can a non-cursed scroll of taming, subject to a check versus monster magic resistance; the scroll can also have its range extended by reading it while confused. 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).

When not standing on the vibrating square, reading the blessed Book of the Dead can tame coaligned undead monsters and increases the tameness of those that are already pets.

Magic harps

Applying a magic harp with charges can tame monsters around you, with the range of the effect dependent on your experience level.

Djinni and wishes

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. A released djinni that offers a wish can be used to obtain a desired pet, often in the form of a blessed figurine - certain pets can only be obtained easily in this way, if at all.


Monster figurines can be used to generate the monster depicted by the figurine. There is always a chance of the generated monster being tame, with the odds at their highest if the figurine is blessed. Figurines can bypass some taming restrictions, although a majority of such ineligible monsters cannot have figurines of them created in the first place.[1]

Demon gating

While polymorphed into any major demon other than a balrog or foocubus, attacking in melee with your bare hands can gate in other demons. Demons gated this way have a 56 of being the same type as your current form, and a 16 chance of being any random demon of your alignment.


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 eggs of a given species is to become a female monster of that species and lay the eggs yourself.


If you are a werecreature, you can use #monster to summon your brethren for a cost of 10 Pw; their species is dependent on your were-species, and they will always arrive tame.


Two traps can actually aid in obtaining tamed monsters with their effects:

  • A magic trap will tame adjacent monsters with 4.8% probability whenever it gives you the charisma-raising effect. This effect does not check monster MR, so it can tame otherwise resistant monsters. However, magic traps also have a variety of effects, many of which are harmful, so be prepared to deal with them if you intend to gamble on the charisma effect.
  • The polymorph trap polymorphs most monsters that step on it, and already-tame monsters that are weak and/or low on HP will deliberately jump onto them. A leash can be used to guide pets onto them, and this can be used in conjunction with methods of generating more tame monsters (such as a gremlin multiplying in water or the werecreature form's #monster ability) to produce armies of high-quality pets.

The Astral Plane

You will be given a tame 'guardian' Angel upon entering the Astral Plane, unless you are generating conflict or badly aligned; the Angel will also disappear if you generate conflict at any point after entrance.


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; existing monsters changing to these forms (e.g. a demilich that grows up into a master lich, a werecreature reverting to human form) will not become untame. Notably, the Riders are not inherently untameable, though their 100 monster MR makes it very difficult; Famine and Pestilence can be level drained, which reduces their effective MR, although it may still take many attempts at taming before success. Death is immune to level drain, and so cannot be tamed.

Although Vlad the Impaler is covetous in his base form, as a vampire he's capable of shapeshifting, and his transformations are non-covetous and tameable in principle. This requires significant resources and effort to accomplish; see the strategy section for details.

Pet diets

See also Diet#Pets

A freshly tamed pet's hunger starts out at 1000. For the three cardinal domestic species, the same appropriate foods that work for taming also work for routine feeding are as for taming. 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 eggs, 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 gain two to eight times as much nutrition as players from food (smaller ones gain more), but take the same time to eat it;[2] a pet that was just tamed with food will "devour" it, 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 from the monsters they kill. Pets will never eat food that would cause them harm, unless they have the appropriate resistance (e.g., pets without poison resistance won't eat poisonous corpses).

A pet that becomes hungry will reach "starving" status in 500 turns; a starving pet becomes confused and will have their maximum hit points divided by 3.[3] You can get an idea of whether a pet is hungry or not if you #chat with them frequently - in many cases (though not all), their vocalizations will change noticeably (e.g., a hungry dog "barks" while an otherwise content dog "yips".) Pet monsters that are inediate usually do not become hungry, but also cannot have their tameness increased through feeding them.

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.

Preferred foods

Depending on a pet's diet, the food it is willing to eat falls 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.

Diet exceptions

The following are exceptions to the normal rules:

  • Pets won't eat anything that would harm them (e.g. poisonous, acidic, or stoning-inducing) unless they have the appropriate resistance. They will also avoid eating "old" tainted corpses, with the exception of lizards and lichens (which never rot away).
  • Non-slimeproof pets will only consider a glob of green slime if they're starving.
  • Ghouls are technically inediate, but will eat old corpses and old eggs, and consider the former treats.
  • Bananas are treats to herbivorous and omnivorous Y.
  • Carrots are treats to blind carnivores, who will eat them to regain their sight.
  • Metallivores consider non-rustproof iron items a treat, and other metal items are acceptable food; thus, only metallivores will eat tins. A metallivore will not eat an amulet of strangulation or ring of slow digestion, and throwing iron weapons at a metallivore is a bad idea, even if they would eat them afterward.
  • Gelatinous cubes consider organic non-food items acceptable.
  • Humanoids other than ogres, orcs, and kobolds will not commit cannibalism unless starving;elves will not commit cannibalism even if starving.
  • None of the above pet types will eat your role's quest artifact, any unique items, or Rider corpses. Pets have a 95% chance of passing up other artifacts, assuming they would normally eat the base item.

Pet behavior

Pets will very generally try to stay close to your position, though they are prone to wandering off; a pet with more speed is usually (though not always) better at keeping up with you. Carrying food that a pet considers a treat (e.g. tripe rations) will cause them to follow you more closely. All tamed monsters will follow you up and down stairways and through portals if they are adjacent to you when you enter, unless they cannot move or are in the middle of an action (e.g. eating).

Cursed items

Pets tend to avoid squares where a cursed item is present. If a pet does enter such a square, the message displayed is "<pet> steps reluctantly over a(n) <item>". Note that the item listed is not necessarily the cursed item -- it's whatever item happens to be "on top" of the square.

This message is not displayed if you displace the pet onto the square, or if there's food on the square that the pet wants to eat. Divine minion pets are not bothered by cursed items.[4]


Pets will also try to avoid known traps where possible. If leashed, a pet may "whine" or "whimper" to indicate that a trap is near, even if it hasn't been detected yet.


Applying a tin whistle or a bell can cause them to seek you out and stay close for a certain amount of turns; a magic whistle will warp them immediately to your side. Applying a leash to a pet will keep them closer to you, though it alters and limits their movement as well: leashed pets can end up stuck around corners depending on where you and the pet move. Leashed pets will also move reluctantly over cursed items more often, and will whine if they sense a trap is nearby (though they still risk walking into the trap themselves). A leashed pet that can move always follows you when you travel via stairs or a portal, even if they are not adjacent to you.

Displacing a pet

If you try to walk on a pet's square, you have a 67 chance of displacing it and switching places unless you are punished, in a shop, or the pet is a long worm.[5] If you fail to displace your pet (17), then the pet will become scared for 1-6 turns. If the pet cannot move, but you otherwise would swap places, you have a 16 chance of swapping places anyway.[6]

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.


Unless confused, pets will generally only attack monsters that are not you, a quest leader, a quest guardian, or another pet.[7] In addition, they will also avoid attacking monsters that are at least two levels higher than they are.[8] A pet will not attack peaceful monsters if they are below 25% of their maximum HP.[9]

A pet will not attack a floating eye 90% of the time, provided the pet can see; it will also avoid attacking a gelatinous cube 90% of the time.[10][11] Pets will additionally avoid attacking monsters whose maximum passive damage exceeds their current hit points.[12] A pet will not attack a monster who can turn them to stone if the pet is not stoning-resistant.[13] Conflict overrides all of these restrictions and will cause a pet to attack any nearby monster (or you), subject to a check versus monster magic resistance.

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 [14]

Abuse and death

Main article: Tameness#Abuse

In general, abusing your pet involves attacking it in any form, even if you were confused, stunned or otherwise impaired. Killing your pet outright carries a −15 penalty to alignment record and −1 Luck penalty[15][16] - displacing your pet in a manner that causes its immediate death (i.e., into a trap or pool of water) carries a −15 penalty and angers your god.

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

Pets that are revived or saved by an amulet of life saving are not guaranteed to revive tame - if you killed the pet yourself or abused it at least three times, it will never revive tame and has only a 1-in-(times abused) chance of being peaceful; if you abused it at least ten times, it will always revive as hostile.[17] 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 this new number is zero, the pet is no longer tame, but it still has a 50% chance of being peaceful. A pet that remains tame after being revived, or else is re-tamed manually, retains its tameness value and has its nutrition, abuse and apport reset as though it was a brand new pet.

Attempting to sacrifice the corpse of a pet that died while it was tame at an altar will anger that altar's god - doing the same at a cross-aligned altar will actually reduce your own god's anger. A pet that went feral or was otherwise untamed prior to dying is suitable to sacrifice.

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

Pet growth

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 the defeated monster's level plus one, and their level is increased to roughly match their maximum hit point total.[18] A pet's health, level and status can be monitored via a stethoscope or a wand of probing.

The maximum HP threshold for most monsters is 8 times their current level (or 4 for level 0), with the exception of golems and elementals on their home Elemental Plane. The maximum level for a monster is 32 of that monster's base level, or the next type if that monster has a more "grown up" form; said maximum will normally be no greater than 49.[19]

See growing up for more details about pet advancement.

Pets and equipment

Tamed intelligent monsters that have hands can use items they pick up, and humanoid ones can wear and even replace armor. They will also use other items such as potions, scrolls and even certain tools. As mentioned above, pets will not pick up cursed items, and will avoid moving onto them where possible; silver-hating pets will always avoid touching silver items.[20]

Intelligent pets will quaff or throw various potions if they pick one up; for example, they can quaff a potion of healing or extra healing if low on HP, and will throw harmful potions such as acid or sleeping at other monsters.

Weapons and 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 a worn piece of armor with one that gives more AC, regardless of any other properties conveyed - e.g., a +3 small shield takes priority over a +0 shield of reflection.[21][22]

Pets with a weapon attack will pick up and wield weapons, and select which one to wield based on type. 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.[23] (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 another one, it can switch to the new artifact and drop the old one, provided the new 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.)

Pets can also make use of ranged weapons if they come across any, and will also use their breath weapon if they have one.[24]

Tools and other items

Some pets can carry around a unicorn horn to apply if afflicted with a status condition, or a key to unlock doors with. Some pets can also put on amulets of life saving or reflection; they have no preference in this regard. A nonliving monster that ends up wearing an amulet of life saving (typically due to being polymorphed from the form they put it on with) will not use up the amulet if they die.


Main article: Riding

Certain pets can serve as steeds for your character if they have a saddle placed on them. Mounting a steed reduces their tameness, making it imperative to treat them well and keep them fed where possible.


From a general outlook, having a tamed monster by your side can serve several useful purposes - they can help kill hostile monsters, detect cursed items, and even aid in stealing from shops without angering the shopkeeper. A pet can also kill a peaceful monster that you want a particular item from, such as a dwarf's pick-axe, without any penalties - you are not considered responsible for monsters that your pet kills. Pets can also enlighten newer players to certain aspects of the game, such as which corpses are (mostly) safe to eat and which monsters are safe to attack in melee.

However, pets can also be a hassle to manage. If strong enough, they will attack peaceful monsters, such as aligned priests, that you want to keep alive; pets on the weaker side that are left to constantly pick fights may eventually end up killed. Additionally, unless given stealth in some manner they will wake up nearby monsters, particularly nymphs and leprechauns, that you would rather leave asleep. Pets can also snatch up corpses you were hoping to eat and get in the way of vital spells, wand shots or ranged attacks. The more pets you have, the more tedious it becomes to keep them with you, and the more the above problems multiply - though a magic whistle can alleviate many of them.

One particular "quirk" with regards to pets is the relative weakness of most starting pets - falling rock traps and pits are enough to immediately kill an unfortunate kitten or little dog, and spectacularly unfortunate players may see them die to a gecko or jackal. Players invested in their pet's survival may consider letting them 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.

Another important factor to remember is that pets only provide clues to non-fatal corpses and noncursed objects. This is generally more relevant to understanding the difference between "not cursed" and "safe to use-test" - the helmet your dog walked over with no trouble might be a dunce cap or helm of opposite alignment.

Feeding pets

Carnivorous pets are easy to feed, to the point that you have to prevent them from stealing corpses you want to eat; conversely, herbivorous pets are somewhat trickier to feed due to the relative lack of safe pet-friendly foodstuffs, and are more likely to become confused from hunger as a result. Trees such as the ones in most variants of Minetown can drop several fruits and vegetarian food items if kicked, though there is the risk of attracting killer bees or (in Minetown's case) angering the Watch; it is also possible to create them by polypiling comestibles.

For horse owners in particular, a common trick usually employed by Knights is to allow the horse to reach starving levels of hunger, then leave the level for a while, and re-enter to toss the now-wild horse a treat, resetting its nutrition and tameness. Non-knights with a horse (or other steed that can be re-tamed this way) can instead opt to mount and dismount their steed repeatedly untill it un-tames.

An inediate pet does not have to eat, but also cannot have its tameness increased with food; this makes inediate pets harder to keep tame, especially if you or they have the misfortune to step on a level-changing trap. Losing a vampire lord or Archon to a level teleporter is a terrible happenstance, not least because they will use whatever kit they were given against you.

Caring for pets

As pets are at their most vulnerable during their weaker stages, trap detection is a especially useful skill to hone in order to protect them. Actively leading your pet(s) rather then letting them "lead" you makes it easier to provide a clear path for it, whether or not you use them to detect traps - even stronger pets can be "threatened" by an inopportune trap door if it separates you from them long enough for the pet(s) to become hostile. For other non-relocating traps such as pits and bear traps, you want to #untrap the pet as soon as possible; be warned that unsuccessfully attempting to remove a bear trap will injure your pet, and if done repeatedly may kill it. When untrapping pets, make sure there is a safe square for them to access.

Obtaining telepathy as soon as possible is an ideal goal for most pet owners in order to avoid abusing or killing them while blinded. Telepathy is also ideal to spot and eliminate digesting monsters such as purple worms, trappers and lurkers above, who can potentially engulf and kill your pet instantly. Pets are also vulnerable to polymorph traps, which in practice are as likely to turn them into a sessile mold or jelly as it is to turn them into something stronger.

If you are hallucinating, try using the #chat command to figure out which of the strange beings around you is your pet. A less reliable option is to wait and see how the creature in question moves and whether or not it attacks you.

Equipment for pets

The best way to equip a pet is to gather the desired items and leave them in a dead end, then stand on them until your pet comes near; swap places with the pet and keep them standing over the pile until they picks up something and start using it. If a pet drops something they 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-square long corridor with a locked door. As pets tend to avoid picking up items when you are nearby, this method may take a while; locking them in a closet will often be faster if you don't have any items to replace. Pets with high apport are more likely to pick up things if you are not within their sight - be sure the pet isn't carrying a key of its own.

If you want your pet to keep a specific artifact, give it to it while it is carrying as few objects as possible.

Armor and extrinsics

A pet that can be armored should be given magic resistance, magic cancellation, and reflection. All items that work for the player also work for monsters that can wear them, with some notes and exceptions:

After deciding what extrinsics you can give your pet, the rest of their armor selection should be focused on improving 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.

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. Eucalyptus leaves will act like magic whistles if blessed. A tin whistle is a fine substitute if neither is available.
  • 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 gloves and boots 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.
  • The wand or spell of undead turning and the spell of stone to flesh can revive pets; they may revive hostile.
  • The spell of detect monsters and/or potion of monster detection to locate pets.
  • The wand of speed monster or potions of speed to make pets fast.
  • 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.
  • 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 and 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 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 polymorph trap. 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 scroll of taming or reliable access to the charm monster spell.
  • 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.[24] 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. In addition, protection from shape changers is necessary to permanently change the form of a vampire or vampire lord - without it, polymorphing them will just result in them taking their vampire bat form, which can change again as normal.



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.


<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.[25]
You feel worried about your <pet>.
As above, but your pet is out of sight.



Main article: Pet (SLASH'EM)

SLASH'EM makes various changes to the pet-keeping system, adding god-granted minions as well as pets that can turn traitor; pets and other monsters in SLASH'EM that are polymorphed will also eventually return to their normal form upon being killed or after a certain amount of turns, much like the player would.


In GruntHack, hostile monsters will aggressively seek out your pets to attack them - this makes it much harder to keep early pets in particular alive. GruntHack also uses the same rules for polymorphing non-player monsters as SLASH'EM: polymorphed pets return to normal when they die or the polyform expires.


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 lowest-level pets will quickly untame, typically returning to the same status (peaceful or hostile) as they were before they were tamed.
    • Some pets do not count towards this limit and will not untame: loyal pets, temporary summons, temporarily tamed ("friendly") pets, and "suicidal" monsters (monsters whose attacks require killing themselves).
    • "Loyal" pets also won't lose tameness from being left on other dungeon levels.
    • If two pets have the same current level, then the tiebreakers, in order, are tameness, species maximum level, and species monster difficulty.
    • Whenever a pet gains max HP (by killing a monster), it has a chance to decide to stay peaceful if it later untames, even if it was hostile before it was tamed. This chance depends on your beast mastery skill (see below) and your charisma.
    • Monsters that are tamed by certain methods will always remain peaceful if they untame: monsters that decided to become tame on their own, monsters that were tamed by music (including dolls of friendship), and starting pets.
    • Pets on other dungeon levels don't count towards the limit and won't untame.
  • 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' AC and increases their chances to-hit in combat. It also increases the range from which pets will follow you when going up or 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.
  • Several 'storage' levels are implemented; pets left there won't lose tameness from being away from the player, even if they don't have the "loyal" tag. These include the first level of Sokoban and the first level of dNethack's Neutral Quest branch, and possibly others.

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

"List the other effects of pets being loyal. There are some levels where pets don't lose tameness (or get hungry?) while you're off-level - list those levels."

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 to find equipment for.
    • A Light Archon fires volleys of 3 (magically created) silver arrows for high potential damage against demons. Its large size makes it harder to find equipment for.
    • 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 and fires (magically created) +57 phasing silver arrows. 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 lightning.
    • 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 a lower base level (18) and chooses spells randomly, so damage drops off against targets with resistances. It only uses one weapon attack per turn, unless it is level 30.
    • An Ara Kamerel comes with a Kamerel Vajra and casts open wounds in combat, resulting in high single-target damage. It resists shock damage, acid damage, sleep, poison, magic, petrification, and has intrinsic reflection. It reincarnates using gold golems, though it reverts to level 15 in the process. Its large 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.
    • A strong Darkness given hunger can be a surprisingly effective pet in the end game, particularly for players with a high pet cap, as enemy monsters with iron weapons will constantly divide your pet to create a small army around you. You will most likely want a means of mass healing your pets to keep them in good condition, such as the Troubadour's Meditative Healing song or the mass healing spell, and you will also need a ring of slow digestion to ward off engulfing attacks from any confused pets or pets that turn on you as pudding division causes you to exceed your pet cap.


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

When considering what equipment to wear, you can throw items to intelligent, non-paralyzed pets to force them to pick them up. 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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