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This article is about an older version of DF.

Vermin are small creatures such as rats, bats, and lizards which are difficult to see. The presence of vermin can be noted if you are particularly observant, as they will occasionally blink into and out of view on the screen. The main distinctions between vermin and creatures are that vermin i) do not attack and cannot be engaged in combat or trigger traps, ii) do not provide meat, fat, bones, skulls or skin, and iii) do not breed, but "spawn", spontaneously appearing in their natural environment or biome.

Most vermin can be tamed and then adopted by dwarves, if the dwarf has a preference for a particular type, which is rare. Purring maggots can be milked for dwarven milk. A few have extracts. Occasionally dwarves will eat them as food, even if you have plenty of available "real" food.

Catching and Taming vermin, Pets[edit]

Small animal traps are designed specifically to catch and hold vermin. A catch a live land animal order issued at a kennel or butcher's shop tells a trapper to seek out and catch a vermin animal inside one of these traps (mostly from your food stockpiles). The animal will then be brought to an animal stockpile. Alternatively, animal traps can be built and baited, which is a better way to catch outside vermin.

Caught vermin can then be tamed by anyone with the animal training labor active at a kennel. Some vermin (those with the tag [PET_EXOTIC]) require the presence of the Dungeon master to be tameable.

Tame vermin can be offered for claiming as pets on the z Status screen under the Animals submenu. Tame vermin will only be claimed by dwarves who admire those vermin.

A dwarf will carry an adopted pet vermin with him as part of the inventory, generally on top of his head or shoulders.


Vermin are primarily notable for their ability to annoy or accost dwarves, whether by being a general nuisance (e.g. flies, all dwarves) or by triggering disgust ("detests", only specific dwarves). Most dwarves will have thoughts related to such a terrible type of vermin they detest, and will suffer a significant mood penalty any time they spot that vermin. This also applies if the vermin is seen in a cage, thus hateable (see list) vermin make a poor choice for placement in a zoo.

To verify:

  • Will a pet vermin carried around by its owner accost other dwarves?
  • Will a vermin in an animal trap accost dwarves?
  • Will a tame/pet vermin in an animal trap still accost dwarves?
  • Will a vermin just being eaten by a dwarf accost other dwarves in a dining hall?

Some vermin will also eat any food in stockpiles they can manage to get a hold on, causing wear on that food. Food that has been protected in barrels will be immune, but food that is exposed will be nibbled at and will eventually wear out and be destroyed. Some particularly tenacious vermin, such as lizards, can work their way through weak containers; metal barrels are over ten times more effective at keeping your food safe. Having cats will keep vermin to a minimum, thus keeping your food safe.

Vermin as Food[edit]

Stray, untamed vermin that are caught in animal traps are edible, and will be eaten live as exotic cuisine by any dwarf who happens to be nearby.

Dwarves who are starving will also attempt to find and eat vermin, but if they do not have a preference for that vermin as a food type, they will receive a bad thought from doing so. In a fortress with cats, it may be difficult or impossible for the dwarves to find enough vermin to survive starvation, as even a small number of cats are ruthlessly effective at controlling the vermin population. If they are not pets, it may be best to just butcher the cats for food.

Extracts from vermin[edit]

Certain vermin, such as the fire snake, can be used to make extracts. At present, most extracts have no use in the game other than trade goods.

Eliminating vermin[edit]

Cats are chiefly useful for their ability to hunt down and kill vermin. Cats will wander around the fortress and surrounding lands killing vermin. As animals do not presently eat, this is done only for sport. This reduces or eliminates the possibility of dwarves receiving bad thoughts for being accosted by vermin — dead vermin do not bother any dwarf — but exposes a risk that a rotting rat or other larger vermin will release a cloud of miasma and upset any dwarves who pass through the cloud.

Another method of controlling vermin is by building animal traps and periodically catching vermin with trappers to be consumed in some fashion. The trapped vermin may be used for a variety of purposes, including being eaten, tamed, or made into extracts, or can be relocated to a cage so that the trap may be used again.

List of vermin[edit]

Catchable fish are technically considered "vermin" by the game. Many vermin do not show up in winter. Vermin with no "value" are not capturable. The values given in the table below are for tamed vermin.

Some "hateable" vermin (tag: [VERMIN_HATEABLE]) can accost dwarves that have the specific "preference" against ("detest") them, giving them unhappy thoughts.

Name Tile Value Biome Hateable Notes
Toad 10 Murky pools Yes Amphibious
Turtle 10 Murky pools no Amphibious, fishable, has shell
Fly · n/a All Yes Found in swarms, flier
Can escape from cages by flying between the bars.1
Large roach 5 All Yes Eats food, nests in groups
Beetle · n/a All no Found in soil, only seen in Adventurer mode
Ant · n/a All no Forms colonies in soil
Monarch butterfly n/a All no Flier, corpse can inexplicably block doors open
Firefly n/a All no Flier, glows
Dragonfly n/a Murky pools no Flier
Lizard 10 All Yes Eats food (carnivore)
Rat 10 All Yes Eats food, sometimes nests in groups.
Can escape from cages by gnawing through the bars.2
Worm ~ n/a Taiga
Any temperate
Any tropical
Yes Found in soil, only seen in Adventurer mode
Blue jay 30 Temperate grassland
Temperate savanna
Temperate shrubland
Temperate broadleaf forest
Temperate coniferous forest
no Flier
Cardinal 30 Temperate grassland
Temperate savanna
Temperate shrubland
Temperate broadleaf forest
Temperate coniferous forest
no Flier
Grackle 30 Temperate grassland
Temperate savanna
no Flier
Oriole 30 Temperate broadleaf forest no Flier
Red-winged blackbird 30 Temperate saltwater marsh
Temperate freshwater marsh
no Flier
Chipmunk 10 Any temperate forest no
Gray squirrel 10 Any temperate forest no
Red squirrel 10 Any temperate forest no
Fox squirrel 100 Any temperate forest (Savage) no
Moghopper 20 Murky pools (Savage) no Amphibious, fishable, summer only, extract is mog juice
Fairy 10 All (Good) no Flier, glows
Cave spider 1 Cave river Yes Exotic pet, makes webs, bites to inject stunning venom, extract is venom, carnivore
Cave lobster ¥ n/a Cave river no Must be caught in animal traps, has shell
Cave fish α n/a Cave river no Fishable
Fire snake 1 Magma flow Yes Exotic pet, sets things on fire, extract is liquid fire
Can escape from cages by burning through the bars.3
Purring maggot { 1 Chasm Yes Exotic pet (if tamed), otherwise milkable for dwarven milk extract
Bat 30 Chasm Yes Exotic pet, flier, sometimes nests in large groups
Salmon α n/a Any temperate river
no Fishable, autumn only
Swordfish α n/a Ocean no Fishable by other civilizations
Mussel m n/a Ocean no Fishable by other civilizations, cookable live
Oyster o n/a Ocean no Fishable by other civilizations, cookable live


1) Flies can only be safely contained within cages and traps made of glass, otherwise flying away at a 1/4 chance per tick
2) Rats can gnaw through containers made of plant fiber cloth or silk (at a 1/200 chance per tick) or wood or leather (at a 1/100 chance per tick)
3) Fire snakes can burn their way out of containers made of plant cloth or silk (at a 1/4 chance per tick) or wood, leather, or glass (at a 1/20 chance per tick)

Due to a bug, vermin escape checks are only applied to artifact containers, while non-artifact ones are 100% effective (Bug:6117). The following patch for version fixes this: