See also: Starter Pet Chart
New hunter characters start the game with a pet at level 1. Read on to learn all about these "starter pets".
What is a "starter pet"?
Beginning in Patch 4.0, all hunter characters start with a pet right from character creation.
This is your starter pet. This will be your only pet until level 10, and during those nine levels this pet will behave a little differently than hunter pets normally do.
Your starter pet converts to a normal pet when you learn the hunter ability Control Pet at level 10.
Each hunter race has a specific starter pet. If you want to start with a white tiger starter pet, for example, you will need to create a night elf hunter.
You can find a list of which race starts with which pet on the Starter Pet chart.
When do I get my starter pet?
You will see your starter pet beside your character on the character creation screen as you are choosing your race and appearance.
Your pet will be by your side the instant your new character enters the world.
How do I control my starter pet?
Your starter pet is a lot more like a guardian pet than a normal hunter pet. In other words, you don't really have much control over it.
Starter pets behave as if they are set to use the Follow and Defensive behaviors: in other words it will follow you around and either defend you if you are attacked, or attack what you attack.
But you do not have a pet control UI. You can't tell your pet to Attack, or to be Aggressive or Passive. And you can't tell it which skills to use or when to use them.
What if I lose my starter pet?
Your character starts with the skills Call Pet and Revive Pet in your Spellbook, on the Beast Mastery tab.
If you get separated from your starter pet, use Call Pet to call it back to your side. If your pet dies somehow, use Revive Pet to bring back to life.
You do not learn the Dismiss Pet skill until level 10. And you cannot abandon your starter pet.
Are starter pets useful? Can they hold aggro?
Yes and yes.
Starter pets add a decent bit of damage to your own killing power, and they hold the attention of enemies reasonably well considering that you can't send them in before your first shot.
A hunter with a starting pet is most certainly more powerful than a hunter without one. Unless you have some specific reason, I do not suggest attempting the first nine levels without one.
What skills do starter pets know? [Update Nov. 24]
Starter pets know the same skills as their normal family-mates.
You can't tell your starter pet which skills to use and which not to use - they use them automatically.
[Update] Currently, all pets get their Special Ability at level 20 except raptors
and carrion birds, who get theirs at level 10.
I assume there is a bug here one way or another, and I hope it will be fixed soon. But in the meantime be aware that your starter pet will not have any abilities except Growl and its Basic Ability (Bite, Claw, or Smack).
Can I rename my starter pet?
Yes, you can rename your starter pet just like you would a real pet: right-click on the pet portrait in the upper left of the screen and choose Rename.
As usual, you can only set your pet's name once; after that you'll need to use a Certificate of Ownership to change its name again. And some names are not allowed.
Do I feed my starter pet?
No, you do not need to feed your starter pet. Starter pets are always completely happy. Not even dying repeatedly can make them unhappy!
You will, however, need to start feeding your pet when it reaches level 10.
Note: This is actually true for all pets: a pet that is level 9 or below will always be completely happy no matter what; a pet that is level 10 or above will lose happiness from death, dismissal, and the passage of time.
Does my starter pet level up with me?
Starter pets earn experience and level just like a normal hunter pet: they earn XP only when you kill an enemy and they need 5% of the XP that you do to level.
You really don't need to worry about this, though. So long as you keep your starter pet with you while you play it will keep up with your level without you even noticing.
Can I stable my starter pet?
Yes, you can put your starter pet in the stable.
There's no good reason to do so, however, since you can't tame any other pets until level 10 and you probably don't want to make yourself less powerful by adventuring without a pet.
What happens at level 10?
When you reach level 10, you can visit the hunter trainer to learn a bunch of new pet-related skills, including Control Pet, Tame Beast, Dismiss Pet, Feed Pet, and Beast Lore.
Control Pet is the most important: using it gives you access to the pet control UI for all of your pets. In other words, Control Pet lets you actually control your pets, telling them where to go and how to behave and what pet skills they should use.
Note: Don't just learn Control Pet - you need to use it at least once by clicking on the skill icon. Once you use Control Pet it should unlock the pet control UI for all of your pets.
Note: You no longer need to complete a quest to learn Tame Beast or any of the other pet-related skills.
Do existing hunters get starter pets?
Hunters that already existed prior to Patch 4.0.1 did not get the starter pet for their race.
For the most part this isn't a big deal because pets that look just like the starter pets can be tamed later.
What happens if I change my race or faction?
Your starter pet is not affected by race or faction changes.
If you start a night elf hunter, for example, and then change to an orc, your orc will keep the night elf white saber tiger.
I have a different question!
If you have any additional questions you want answered here, please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.I may not be able to answer your e-mail directly, but I will do my best to get an answer up here as soon as possible.