v50 Steam/Premium information for editors
  • v50 information can now be added to pages in the main namespace. v0.47 information can still be found in the DF2014 namespace. See here for more details on the new versioning policy.
  • Use this page to report any issues related to the migration.
This notice may be cached—the current version can be found here.

23a:Captured creatures

From Dwarf Fortress Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is about an older version of DF.

You can capture creatures in a variety of ways, including animal traps for vermin, cage traps for wild animals and hostiles (like goblins), forcibly caging tame animals (see below), and you can also buy caged animals from traders. Caged animals do not require food or nourishment, but this is only because animals do not require food. Caged dwarves (except those in jail) will quickly starve, for they are never fed. The only case when a caged creature is fed is during its taming.

Below is a collection of some things you can do with creatures in cages or other holding devices.

Training and taming[edit]

A dwarf with the animal training labor enabled can tame wild animals (including vermin) at a kennel. A tame animal has the tag (Tame) after its name and is safe to be released into the fortress. They will not attack your dwarves, and do not set off your traps.

Beware, creatures that have killed dwarves (or other members of your civilization) before being tamed are "un-tamable". Despite appearing tame, such a creature will go dwarf-killing as soon as it is released, with the added bonus of being immune to traps.

Dragons and other megabeasts may also be tamed, but this requires a Dungeon master. Specifically, any vermin or creature with the [PET_EXOTIC] flag requires a dungeon master.

Tamed vermin and animals may be adopted as pets by the dwarves, and animals may also be slaughtered for food. A colony of Musk oxen or some other peaceful animal can be used as a food source by allowing them to breed, waiting for them to grow and then cutting down some of them in a butcher's shop.


You can restrain creatures by assigning them to restraints or putting them in cages. This can reduce lag, and may prevent adoption as pets (so they remain slaughterable without tantruming owners). This will not work with cats, who adopt their masters, not the other way around, and despite any physical barriers

  • Cages: An indefinite number of animals might be locked into one single cage. If you wish to fit your own tame animals into cages, you can do this by building a cage, and assigning some animals to it via the Building properties window (accessible by q). "Large animal caging" jobs will then be created, and dwarves will lock the hapless animals into the cage. Caged female creatures will never become pregnant, but an already-pregnant creature placed in a cage will give birth into the cage, though the offspring will not be assigned to the cage (so your dwarves will free it if you don't stop them).
    • If a wild animal is captured via a cage trap and then assigned to an existing cage, the dwarf moving the animal may get scared and let it go. This can be avoided by building the cage the animal is in.
  • Chains/ropes: Build chains as buildings and assign animals to them. They'll be able to move one tile in any direction but will not be able to leave.

How to capture your own Dwarves[edit]

The easiest and safest way to obtain a Dwarf cage is to build prisons with only metal cages, and get as many prisoners as you can (ignoring mandates is usually efficient). When you have someone installed in a cage, remove the building (q x). You now have your very own Dwarf cage, ready for lots of interesting things (e.g. starvation).

While in the cage, the dwarf cannot be released using most "normal" methods, and will not be fed while in the cage. To release the dwarf, you must attach the cage to a lever, and pull the lever to release the cage.


Zoo areas may be defined from cages via the q menu for the enjoyment of your dwarves. Be aware that dwarves will receive unhappy thoughts from seeing an animal they dislike in a zoo, but will also gain happy thoughts if they can go to view a loved animal. Owning the cage containing a loved animal is even better.


Many imaginatively sadistic methods have been discovered for the abuse of caged creatures.

  • Chasm: If the cage is not particularly valuable, you can order it to be tossed into the chasm. Any members of your fortress which are destroyed in this manner will be reported as having "died in a cage".
  • Death chambers: A cage can be opened remotely by attaching a lever to it. This allows for some horrible traps, such as the drowning chamber or magma death chamber. A room is set up next to a water or magma pool, separated from it by a floodgate; a cage is put into the room, and a lever is attached to it; doors leading into the chamber are locked down; the cage and the floodgate are opened remotely. The creatures will then drown or burn. (Magma will melt/burn non-magma-resistant cages along with whatever is inside it, though the cage must be opened for this to work because animals in cages do not drown).
  • Arenas: Remote cage opening can also be used to set up arenas; a tame animal such as a tiger or dog is locked into the arena; a cage containing a hostile animal, such as a goblin (presumably stripped of its weapons and armor) is also brought in the arena; doors are locked down and the cage is opened. The animals will shred the goblin (or in a worse case, the creatures will kill off your animals - therefore it is wise to assign some guards to the doorways to put down any breakout attempts).
  • "Siege engine target practice": Why waste good stone throwing it at a wall? Throw it at some captured goblins (or elves!) instead!
  • "A section of the cavern has collapsed": Why bother with a bridge? Dig out a large room to use as a cave-in trap; surround the lone support, linked to a lever, with cages, stick the little bastards in the cages, and pull. Net result: 200 tons of rock lands on their heads, and there will be nothing to remind you of their existence save the fading clouds of dust.
  • Hello, goblin. I want to play a game. Why just kill them when you can sadistically watch them sprint through a labyrinth of fiendish deathtraps? Pressure plate activated Dwarven Atom Smashers, drawbridges over the chasm activated by pressure pad and lever, and floodgates unleashing tidal waves combine to produce a horrifically painful experience for the foolish goblins who dared attack your fortress. Time-consuming, but fun to watch.

Other uses[edit]

  • Confiscating prisoner items: You can strip a captured critter of its equipment by accessing the Stocks screen, finding its possessions, and ordering them chasmed from there. Items on goblins are easily identifiable by looking for currently worn narrow/small clothing and weaponry. If you're in doubt whether an item you chose is indeed on your prisoners, zoom on it and you should be pointed to the cage. Unless you take special steps, these items will be tossed into the chasm and destroyed - if you want to save their weapons for melting, you will need to make careful use of locked doors to cancel the "Chasm Item" jobs.
  • Usage as an execution device: Instead of executing the trapped creature, one could execute a noble by placing a caged megabeast in its quarters and then releasing the beast. Remember to also install a cage trap to recapture the beast afterward.
  • Silk farming: If you are the lucky owner of a tamed giant cave spider, you can release disarmed enemies in a room with it, causing it to shoot significant quantities of silk which can then be woven into expensive cloth. Creative arrangements of doors, chains, and fortifications can allow a setup which generates a near-constant stream of silk using a single creature as bait.