Generally considered to be a real nuisance, the cockatrice, c, is one of the more complex creatures in the game, and often the source of many YASDs. It can turn you to stone instantaneously if you touch it (or even its corpse) with your bare hands. If, however, you are wearing gloves, you can pick its corpse up and wield it as a weapon, turning enemies to stone instantaneously. Be sure to unwield it before descending stairways or when around traps, as falling down/into these will cause you to touch the corpse. Some creatures are immune to stoning, and golems just turn into stone golems, so have a different weapon ready to use.

The baby version of a cockatrice is a chickatrice, c, and is similarly dangerous, though much weaker and rarer.

The cockatrice corpse has been nicknamed the rubber chicken by the players who like to wield it and use it as a weapon.

Hissing attack[]

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

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

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

Notice that magic cancellation will not protect you against the hiss, although cancelling the cockatrice will prevent it from hissing ("You hear a cough from the cockatrice!"). Good AC will prevent a cockatrice from touching you, however.

Ways to be petrified by a cockatrice[]

This following list gives the ways a cock- and chickatrice can kill you (except where otherwise stated, "cockatrice" refers to both cockatrices and chickatrices, the baby form of cockatrices), and what there is to be done about it. Note that this list may not be exhaustive.

Petrification by a corpse[]

All methods are instantly fatal and assume you are not stoning-resistant, unless noted. Wearing an amulet of life saving will save you if you are petrified.

  • Get hit by a monster wielding it (delayed death). Be warned that certain monsters, such as giants, will pick up and wield footrice corpses. If you're not going to pick it up, leave in on an Elbereth square. 
  • Eat it. This might happen from mistyping when trying to wield it, as "e" and "w" are right next to each other in most keyboards. Gaining the 'food appraisal' intrinsic warns you before eating dangerous food, including food that will petrify you. ('This smells like it could be something very dangerous!') It is gained by reading a blessed scroll of food detection, or casting 'detect food' at skilled or expert in divination spells. It lasts for one warning.

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

Without wearing gloves:

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

Without wearing gloves, blinded:

  • Step (or teleport) onto the square containing the corpse (feel for it).
  • Cease levitating over it.
  • Look (using ':' at the square containing it).
  • Get expelled from an engulfing monster on a square containing the corpse.

Without wearing a helmet:

  • Throw it upwards (direction <)

Without wearing boots:

  • Kick it.

Wearing gloves while wielding the corpse as a weapon:

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

Without wearing gloves, wielding the corpse while stoning-resistant:

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

Petrification by a living cockatrice[]

  • Attack (strike, touch or claw) it with bare, ungloved hands.
  • Attack it with ungloved hands, wielding a potion.
  • Kick it without wearing boots (as a monster attack or as a command).
  • Bite or sting it (monster attack).
  • Headbutt it without wearing a helmet (monster attack).
  • Hug it without gloves and a cloak (monster attack).
  • Suck its brain with tentacles (as mind flayer or master mind flayer).
  • Attack it while polymorphed into a foocubus ("You smile at the cockatrice seductively. You turn to stone...").
  • Swallow it whole (as trapper, lurker above, or purple worm).

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

  • Without gloves, attempt to saddle it
  • Without gloves, attempt to untrap it from a pit
  • Hear its hissing (delayed death). A cockatrice will hiss on one-third of successful touch attacks. A cockatrice's hissing normally has a 10% chance of beginning the stiffening process. If it's a new moon, and you aren't carrying a lizard corpse in your main inventory, the chance is 100%. You'll be told when you start or restore the game if it is new moon. Cancelling a cockatrice prevents it from hissing. Magic cancellation from armor does NOT prevent the hissing turning you to stone.
  • Get reduced to zero HP by its attacks. This turns you into a statue, and the petrification occurs after you die.
  • Ride an animal that steps on a polymorph trap and gets polied into a cockatrice.

Other ways to be petrified by a cockatrice[]

  • Eat a tin of cockatrice meat.
  • Eat a cockatrice egg (delayed death).
  • Get hit by a thrown cockatrice egg.
  • Without a helmet, throw a cockatrice egg in the air (direction <).
  • Without gloves, smash a potion of polymorph over a monster, turning it into a cockatrice. (This is bug #C343-31)


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


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

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

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

Encyclopedia entry[]

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

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

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

Parts of this page are based on a spoiler by David Corbett. The original license is unknown.