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- Battle pets are companions that have been converted to battle other battle pets in the Pet Battle System introduced with Mists of Pandaria.
- Combat pets are companions that a player can partially control to aid them in battle. The classes most associated with combat pets are the warlock and hunter, although unholy death knights (ghouls) and frost mages (water elementals) can also get permanent pets. Balance druids, priests and shaman can summon temporary pets, those are treants, shadowfiends, spirit wolves (enhancement shaman-only), fire elementals, and earth elementals.
- Guardian pets are creatures that can be summoned, but cannot be controlled. They react as combat pets do when set to Aggressive and Follow. Death knights, shamans, balance druids, mages and hunters (using snake trap) can all get guardian pets, and items which summon guardian pets can be used by any class.
- Companions (also called small pets, non-combat pets, follow pets, or vanity pets) are lesser creatures that only provide aesthetic appeal and do not directly affect combat.
- Mounts are usually creatures which are rideable.
You may have no more than one combat pet and one companion pet summoned at a time. There is no limit on simultaneous guardian pets; a Blood death knight could potentially have 16 at once (10 Army of the Dead ghouls, one Risen Ghoul, four Bloodworms, one Dancing Rune Weapon).
All pets, with the exception of non-combat pets, will set their owner in combat when they pull aggro. However, if the owner can break combat through effects like Feign Death or Flask of Petrification, they will remain out of combat until either they or their pet take another aggressive action. This is true even if the owner mounts, which will dismiss the pet and send any attacking mobs into Evade.
This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
- Main article: Battle pet
- Main article: Combat pet
Rare hunter pets
Rare pets are the hunter pets that are: Hard to find, hard to tame, have long respawn times, and/or are just really rare. These type of pets can be worth quite a lot or just look cool.
In Burning Crusade
This section concerns content exclusive to The Burning Crusade.
In the Burning Crusade, other classes can summon pets. Balance druids could summon treants, mages (all specs) could summon water elementals, priests can summon shadowfiends, shamans can summon spirit wolves(enhancement shaman-only) as well as create fire elementals and earth elementals by summoning totems, and druids can summon treants.
In Wrath of the Lich King
This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
Combat pet abilities
- Main article: Pet abilities
Combat pets have their own abilities. Once a pet is summoned, its action bar appears above the player's action bar. All combat pets share six commands; they are Attack, Follow, Stay, Aggressive, Defensive, and Passive.
See also: Pet commands
Each pet can have a maximum of four unique abilities. These abilities are either learnt automatically, or, for Hunter pets, acquire through pet talents.
While not strictly pets, humanoids may be controlled to act like pets by players or creatures via Mind Control or the Gnomish Mind Control Cap. While controlling, the player will gain a pet action bar, allowing him/her to command the humanoid.
Mind Control on players in PvP only lasts for 10 seconds and the priest will not get a pet actionbar either.
There are other mind control-like effects:
- The allows an engineer to control a mechanical creature.
- You possess a Steam Tonk created by a Steam Tonk Controller (or the steam tonk control stands at the Darkmoon Faire).
- certain quests introduced with Burning Crusade have you possess creatures. Some examples: , ,
- Main article: Companion
Companions are sometimes called small pets, minipets, player pets, trophy pets or vanity pets to distinguish these pets from the pets in the game that can directly help characters in some way (usually by attacking). Companions generally do not fight or respond to commands and are summoned (or dismissed) by right-clicking on an associated item (pet-carrier, collar, stone, etc.). Wrath of the Lich King will introduce Pet Supplies vendors (such as Breanni in Dalaran) that sell Fetch Balls and Rope Pet Leashes.
Small pets can be acquired in the following ways:
- Given as a quest reward for owners of the Collector's Edition of World of Warcraft (Panda Cub, Mini-Diablo, or Zergling).
- Bought from vendors (owls, housecats, etc.).
- Constructed by an Engineering skill recipe (mechanical squirrels).
- Sometimes (usually rarely) found on the corpses of killed monsters (parrots sometimes drop from mobs in the Deadmines).
- Obtained through (often highly obscure) quests (i.e. Westfall Chicken).
For a more complete list of vanity pets, see Category:Companions.
- Main article: Guardian pet
Certain items can temporarily summon a pet that will fight for you until it dies or its time limit expires. Some guardian pets are trinkets; these are usually reusable but limited by a cooldown time. A couple of guardian pets are offhand items, (e.g. Ancient Cornerstone Grimoire and Book of the Dead). One is a sword, Dragon's Call, which summons Emerald Dragon Whelps. Others are usable from your inventory but will either be consumable or have a limited number of uses. Guardian pets can be acquired in the following ways:
- Given as a quest reward for certain quest lines (for example, the quest sequence from Umi Rumplesnicker in Everlook rewards you with Mechanical Yeti).
- Reputation reward, e.g. the Defender of the Timbermaw trinket that summons a Timbermaw Ancestor requires Exalted reputation with Timbermaw Hold.
- Constructed by an Engineering schematic (e.g. the Gnomish Battle Chicken or Arcanite Dragonling) or Jewelcrafting recipe (e.g. Felsteel Boar or Truesilver Boar).
- Random area drops (e.g. the Glowing Cat Figurine that drops in Darkshore).
An early one that many people see is the Dog Whistle in Scarlet Monastery/Library, which drops off of Houndmaster Loksey, with 3 charges. Unlike Hunter and Warlock pets, there is no way to control a guardian pet other than by summoning it and/or waiting until it dies or its time expires. The pet will defend its owner, attacking whatever its owner attacks or whatever attacks the owner, which can lead to its attacking unintended targets before the party is ready for them. Caution is necessary before using such a pet in an instance. Use one only in confined spaces or areas where all but a few enemies have been killed, or just don't use it.