An introduction to breeding, how stats are passed down and why it is important to pay attention to a Dino’s stats while breeding. Meant for new players or players having a hard time understanding how mutations and husbandry works in Ark. This information can somewhat be applied to PvP, although no PvP meta will be explained in this guide.
Table of Contents
What Breeding Is (Along with Useful Terms)
Before reading the guide, I strongly recommend that you become familiar with the Dododex.com if you have not done so, already. Especially if you are playing on Vanilla settings. Knowing incubation and hatch times is extremely important for proper breeding. Using the website isn’t required to get a perfect breed line, it just makes everything much, much easier.
Breeding in Ark is very difficult to master but quite easy to understand once you become familiar with how the game handles breeding lines.
Very basically, Breeding is just finding two Dino’s with high stats (not necessarily max level) and getting their offspring to inherit the best of those stats. There are a lot of reasons to breed your dinos but probably the most important is the ability to Imprint your dinos while they grow, adding a max buff of 30% combat rating and 30% damage resistance to them when they eventually become workable adults, on top of raising their other stats by a decent amount along the way.
There are a lot of terms both I will be using in this guide and you will likely hear on the Ark while breeding. Below is a list and the definitions of the terms, please feel free to skip to Oviparous Breeding if you are already familiar with them.
(Disclaimer: While I’ve played a lot of Ark, I don’t know absolutely everything about the game. This is only an introductory guide for people wishing to enter the world of breeding and need a little help, it should not be considered a highly technical guide covering every topic on Breeding. There are more than two types of breeding, there are animals that cannot be bred, please take everything I say with a grain of salt.)
- Oviparous – Egg-laying birth. Creatures who are Oviparous will lay an egg, usually more frequently than Viviparous breeding pairs.
- Viviparous – Live-birth. Animals who are Viviparous will give birth to a live offspring upon their gestation timer expiring. It is at this time you will find out if the mother gives birth to twins or triplets, they will not birth the animals in sequence, any animals that are to be born from that mating session will be born at the exact same time.
- Stats – The points of affected values that determine how powerful an animal is in any of its given abilities, IE: HP, Stamina, Weight, Melee, Etc.
- Fertilized Eggs – Eggs that have been fertilized by a male, these will have a gestation timer as well as a health meter and spoil timer. Under the right conditions, these eggs will hatch to yield offspring.
- Unfertilized eggs – These eggs are not fertilized by a male and will never hatch, although they will be laid more frequently, and without regards to the females mating cooldown timer.
- Gestation – Applies only to Viviparous animals. The time period an animal requires to develop within the womb of its mother. When this timer expires, the creature(s) will be born.
- Incubation – Applies only to Oviparous animals. The time period and temperature gradient required to develop a creature within its egg. When this timer expires, the egg will hatch.
Oviparous Breeding (Eggs)
Oviparous breeding is likely the most common form
of breeding and the kind you will find yourself most familiar with in due time. Nearly every useful animal in Ark is Oviparous and the few that aren’t will become obvious the more you understand about the topic.
The main benefit of having a Dino that lays eggs is the ability to chose exactly when and where you are going to hatch the baby and provide it care. While it requires a bit of extra investment, most eggs needing a certain temperature before incubation can begin, being able to control the environment and area a baby is allowed to inhabit upon birth is crucial to keeping it alive. You also have the ability to trade fertilized eggs between other survivors, it doesn’t matter who hatches the egg, as the resulting dino will be unclaimed upon birth.
Likely the first animal you will breed and imprint onto, or at least should, will be the Pteranodon. It benefits enormously from being imprinted on and bred properly. For the purposes of the guide, we will be using this animal as reference for Oviparous Breeding.
To begin breeding, you will need to find and tame a male and female pair to breed with, high levels are typically preferred here as Ptera’s vary widely in their stat distribution. Finding a safe place for them to mate is next, turn them onto “Enable Breeding” then wait a short time before an egg is produced. In most cases it is no longer than a few minutes. Only one egg will ever be produced at a time, although every egg has the chance of containing Twins (10% chance) or Triplets (2%). Personally, I’ve only ever had twins or triplets happen on Pteranodons and Parasaurs, so don’t expect three Wyverns from one egg too often.
Most of the time, the baby will inherit random combinations of colors and stats from its parents, males will not necessarily inherit all of their fathers traits and females will not necessarily inherit all their mothers traits, it is completely random how their stats will end up combining. However, the offspring will always have either its mother or fathers base stats in every slot, so keeping breeding pairs unleveled is usually preferable, as it makes it easier to keep track of which child inherited what stats and from who.
For example; a Mother Ptera with 100 Stamina and a Father with 120 will give birth to offspring with either 100 or 120 Stamina, nothing in between, over, or under those numbers. If you see a discrepancy with these numbers, you likely have a mutation, or you have been keeping track of your numbers wrong.
Pteranodon eggs require a decently warm environment before they can hatch, which can be achieved with any heat source, like torches, campfires, refining forges, industrial forges or any modded item that produces heat. Dimetrodons and Air conditioners effect the temperature differently than heat sources, providing a sort of blanket bonus to incubation in general, pushing any egg within their area of effect closer to their ideal temperature. Dimetrodons, in the case of incubation, can just be considered mobile and biological alternatives to air conditioners, typically used more in early game than later. Both are a much better and more stable alternative to torches and campfires, or relying on the ambient temperature of the area you are hatching the animals. Ambient temperature can negatively or positively effect your eggs depending on where you are and what you are looking to hatch, so be sure to check the specific temperature by holding “H” (in vanilla) and looking in the top-left of your screen. By default, the temp is read out in Celsius, so if you’re used to Farenheit, you can change this setting in the pause menu.
After the egg hatches, you will be presented with your baby, or babies depending on if you are lucky enough to have gotten twins or triplets. At this time, you will want to be sure to claim them and provide them with their appropriate food, any unspoiled meat for carnivores and colored (not black or white) berries or vegetables for herbivores. Some exceptions apply for both, so if you aren’t sure what your animal eats, check the dododex.com for specific cases.
If you are in a tribe with multiple people, you might want to let others claim a baby, as whoever claims the animal will be responsible for imprinting and will receive the imprint buff while mounted. Be warned: if you have not claimed the animal, you will not be able to imprint on the baby, nor will you receive the buff while mounted, even if the animal is fully imprinted.
For Pteranodons, and most other animals, imprinting
is done by walking, cuddling or feeding the animal comfort foods periodically, typically the same kibble used to tame the adult version of that animal. Out of those options, Kibble is usually the bottleneck, since some creatures require very rare and difficult to make kibble for people early-on. It’s not necessary to have kibble every time, but to assure a 100% tame, you will want to have an ample stock before imprinting.
Imprinting isn’t required for breeding, and if you aren’t using S+ or another mod that automates this process, it is not advised to imprint on your breeders, as the offspring will not inherit the post-imprint stats of its parents. Imprint only on Dino’s you intend to use in the field, to avoid confusion.
There are major exceptions to imprinting in general, many animals have specific way of imprinting onto them and some animals cannot be bred and thus cannot receive an imprinting bonus, like the Griffon or most Insects/arachnids. Wyverns cannot be bred, however they are able to receive the bonus as they are only obtainable by stealing their eggs. These confusing caveats are only more reason for you to familiarize yourself with the Dododex.
You’ll find that some Pteranodon’s have high stamina, melee or weight, while other do not. It’s a simple (if not sometimes arduous) process to combine all the “good” stats of all your birds, through breeding lines.
This part isn’t complicated, simply have two Ptera’s (of opposite genders, obviously) with good stats mate, and hope that eventually, they will produce a male child with all of the good stats from both parents. It’s important to look for a male, as they are easier to breed into other Ptera’s than waiting for a single female to lay an egg every 17 hours. This doesn’t mean females are useless, as your next goal after breeding the perfect male, is to get a few females with identical stats. With how stat inheritance works in Ark, all children receive a random combination of their parents stats, so if both parents have the same stats, you will always get the same offspring from them. Every time they mate, the offspring produced will either have identical stats as their parents or mutations into various stats, making them higher than they were before. You can do this with virtually any animal that allows for breeding, regardless of what kind of birth they give. EG: You cannot combine stats on a Wyvern or Griffin, but can on an Argy or Wooly Rhino.
Other Breeding (Viviparous, etc.)
Most of the information in the previous section applies to Viviparous breeding, however you can ignore the environmental requirements, as the animal’s mother will provide everything it needs to gestate, in most cases. There are, however, many animals that do not fall into the conventional categories and have specific requirements that need to be met before offspring can be produced. This is a brief guide, so I won’t delve into them at all, just know that there are many animals wherein you will have to research their specific breeding and imprinting methods before you are able to produce offspring.
Mutations are obtained at random, their likelihood
of occurring growing with each subsequent generation of mutated parents giving birth to more creatures. They manifest in different ways and are not always a benefit to you or your dino.
Very broadly, mutations can be broken into a few groups:
- Stat Mutations – Extra points getting put into a certain stat like Combat % or Stamina.
- Color Mutations – Mutations that change the color of a region of an animals Feathers, skin, pelt, fur, etc. A color mutation can sometimes mean a stat mutation as well, although this isn’t always the case.
- Level Mutations – The animals level going beyond the normal cap can sometimes happen, though in some cases this may not be beneficial, based on whether or not those extra levels conferred a stat point being put into a good stat.
These mutations can stack or blend in various ways, you could get all three in a single “Mutation point” or you could get a mutation that applied nothing at all and only serves to take up a mutation point meaninglessly. Picking mutations is very important, as, after a certain point, you will no longer be able to obtained any more on a particular breeding line. (There are illegitimate methods of getting past this barrier, but I’m not an advocate of them and advise not trying.)
There’s a lot of involvement with mutations, they can get complicated and confusing, so recording an animals base stats before imprinting or leveling is advised. An easy method of doing this is by making folders in the animals inventory with their stats as the folder names, you obviously also have the option of recording them in notepad or something externally from Ark. A lot of meticulous breeders will use their phones and have spreadsheets of which animals have what stats, this rabbit hole goes real deep if you find yourself interested in breeding.
Sometimes you will find that an offspring with 1:1 identical stats as its parents, will have a mutation listed. There is a small chance that any mutation received will apply those extra points to a useless stat like food, torpidity, oxygen or movement speed (even on servers with Classic Fliers or Naj’s mod, these mutation points are still wasted) which will effectively waste the points and render the mutation useless. It’s advised to kill off these animals or otherwise exclude them from your breeding line, as they will only take up a mutation slot with wasted stats.
For new survivors, just focus on getting decent stats on a single animal through breeding and slowly work on building mutations. There are a lot of methodical, in-depth guides if you find yourself getting interested in the subject, but for the average player, you won’t need some hyper-mutated Giga in order to survive. Breeding mutations is very much an endgame for PvE.
To summarize: Figure out Breeding > Then Raising > Imprinting > Mutations. You’re unlikely to have a capped line of any animal (I’ve never capped out mutations before) but you’re very likely to have an imprinted Dino at some point in your game. I had my first fully-imprinted Wyvern only a few weeks into buying the game, and the results spoke for themself.
Every server has a Dino Tame Limit. Any animals you aren’t actively breeding with should be store in a cryopod, killed off, given away or otherwise taken away from the server’s tame limit, especially in PvE. It’s is extremely disrespectful to your fellow players to have a massive base filled with ten thousand Giga’s or Argy’s just because you have to have one of every color. Make the game a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone, even those of us with slower PC’s and less time on our hands.