Petrification does not state the creature "no longer needs to eat/drink (or sleep)"[1]:


  • A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of ten, and it ceases aging.
  • The creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • The creature has Resistance to all damage.
  • The creature is immune to poison and disease, although a poison or disease already in its system is suspended, not neutralized.

So, by RAW, does a petrified creature starve? What in the condition text (or on other rules) makes a petrified creature eschew food / drink / sleep?


  1. Common sense dictates that it should be so, but let's stick to RAW.

4 Answers 4


As silly as the question sounds, it's interesting from a rules perspective.

A petrified creature retains its statistics (such as hit points) except as noted in the condition. It can still attempt some saving throws (just not Strength and Dexterity ones). So clearly, a petrified creature is still a creature, and not an object — it hasn’t really become a statue.

But the creature does become “solid inanimate substance (usually stone).” A creature polymorphed into another form needs to eat what its new form eats. For example, a creature polymorphed into a Zombie gains Undead Nature and does not need to eat.

Some other creatures have their unusual dietary habits in their creature blocks. Others are left to common sense. Explicit or implicit, a creature’s diet is part of its “statistics” which get replaced when it is polymorphed or petrified.

So what does a solid inanimate substance need to eat? We don't have a stat block of a rock that happens to be a creature, but I think we can agree that it does not need to eat.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This also explains why the petrified creature also doesn't need to breathe. "SISUS" doesn't breathe. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a citation for "A creature polymorphed into another form needs to eat what its new form eats."? \$\endgroup\$
    – godskook
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 17:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik, there are a number of creatures made of rock that eat various things... or don't. Stone elementals, golems, xorn (I think are stone), etc. Which one would most resemble our hapless petrified creature? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 18:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @godskook, I will edit my answer later, but this is covered by a creature's statistics being replaced by the new form. Example, if you are polymorphed into a zombie, you gain "Undead Nature" and no longer need to eat. Dietary requirements of other creatures are left to common sense, but follow the same rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 18:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The wording to me indicates it is out of time (it ceases aging, poisons/diseases are suspended) - thus when one removes the time as factor it won't use energy (since energy is power times time), this then means it shouldn't need to eat to replenish its energy. \$\endgroup\$
    – paul23
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 3:09

A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of ten, and it ceases aging.

It's a rock. It doesn't need to eat, drink, sleep, or breathe, because it's inanimate.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you know rocks don't need to breathe? Just because they can't/don't? \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 2:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question asks about sleeping, not breathing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jan 6 at 19:04

I'm not sure about RAW (since that's all the text in the rule book), but I could not possibly interpret "A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). [...] it ceases aging" as anything other than that the character is magically transformed into stone. Stone does not have any biological processes and thus does not need to eat, breathe, sleep etc.

It would also clearly defy all the fantasy tropes and the dramatic point of the effect if a creature turned to stone would die from starvation / dehydration / asphyxiation after a few weeks/days/minutes.

Hell, it would make the 1/2 cr cockatrice a "save twice or die"-creature, since you can't live without breathing for 24 hours.


I agree with the premise of the question - common sense indicates that a petrified creature does not need to eat, drink, or sleep. I would even venture to say that this is likely RAI as well. But, the question asks whether this can be justified, RAW. So here's my attempt. (Incidentally, I also believe that @TimGrant's accepted answer is wrong1, because a creature's need to eat, drink, or sleep is typically found in its lore, not its stat block.)

Assume that time does not pass for the creature

The petrified condition says that a creature "ceases aging". What does this mean, especially in a game that has no listed mechanical effects of aging? Well, one thing it could mean (and the fundamental assumption of this answer) is that any process, or at least quasi-biological process, that requires time to have passed to take effect cannot affect the petrified creature. Things that have an 'accounting frequency' (damage taken each round, each turn, each hour, etc.) will happen to it, but anything that takes place after a certain amount of time as a threshold effect will not.

If we make this assumption, does the petrified condition then work like our intuition says it should?

Suppose I pour oil over the petrified creature and then light it. Flaming oil does 5 damage to a creature immediately when it enters the oil, or at the end of its turn if it was already there. Although there is a certain rate of damage (5 per turn), since the damage could be taken immediately it does not require a certain amount of time to take effect. At the 'end of the turn' is just when it happens for accounting, but the creature does not have to have spent an entire turn in the flames for the damage to take effect. Thus the petrified creature could be damaged by the oil (although it would have resistance).

Suppose I cast a feeblemind spell on the creature. The instantaneous effect is to force an Int save. Our petrified creature can still make Intelligence saves, so this happens. If it fails, its Intelligence and Charisma scores, which had remained what they were before petrification, now become 1. The spell permits a new save "At the end of every 30 days", but our creature will not be allowed this so long as it is petrified. Since time does not pass for it, it does not experience the 30 days and so cannot make the new save.

Suppose I cast sickening radiance on the creature and it fails its Con save, which it is allowed to make. The damage, exhaustion, and light all happen at the start of its turn, but they don't require that any specific amount of time has been spent in the radiance to take effect. The creature will take the damage, accumulate the exhaustion, and emit the light. Assuming the exhaustion doesn't kill it, that will go away at the end of the spell.

Now suppose the creature has been a day without water. The rules for dehydration say that the creature will suffer a level of exhaustion at the end of the day. But this assumes that the creature has passed the entire day without water. Unlike the 'end of the turn' example with oil, sufficient water at any point in the day would be enough. Here the end of the day is not just accounting for when the exhaustion happens, but is considering that a full day must have passed for this to take effect. Since biological time does not pass for the petrified character, they will not be exhausted from dehydration. Technically we could say they still need water, but cannot go without water for sufficient time for dehydration to have a consequence.

Similarly for food. "A character can go without food for a number of days equal to 3 + his or her Constitution modifier (minimum 1). At the end of each day beyond that limit, a character automatically suffers one level of exhaustion." Since the petrified creature does not pass the biological time required to reach the limit, they cannot be exhausted from starvation.

Finally, sleep. The PHB does not have rules for going without sleep, but suppose you use the optional rules in XGtE: "Whenever you end a 24-hour period without finishing a long rest, you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or suffer one level of exhaustion." In this case, the petrified creature cannot have the required 24 hour period pass for them; they cannot be exhausted from lack of sleep.

Making the assumption that time does not pass for petrified characters (at least biological time based on the fact that they do not age) permits them to be affected by damage and even imposed exhaustion, but not by things like dehydration, starvation, or lack of sleep.

1 It's a good faith effort, but it is wrong on two counts - a false analogy and an incorrect rules statement. The answer says that (1) when polymorphed, a creature assumes the stat block of its new form. This is true, but the creature here is being petrified, not polymorphed. That's the false analogy - nothing RAW says that the two processes are similar. Even if we accept this premise for the sake of argument, though, there is a more serious error. The answer says that (2) "A creature polymorphed into another form needs to eat what its new form eats. For example, a creature polymorphed into a Zombie gains Undead Nature and does not need to eat." This is simply false.

Eating (and sleeping) are not part of a creature's stat block. The Monster Manual (p.6) clearly states that the Statistics, or stat block, of a monster starts with its Size. Any descriptions that come before size are thus, by definition, not part of its Statistics. While there are several monsters with Undead Nature or Construct Nature that say they do no need to eat or sleep, these traits are listed before the stat block (in what is sometimes called the "Lore") and are not, properly speaking, part of their Statistics. Thus even if we accept the premise that petrification is like polymorph in that it replaces the stat block of the creature to that of the new form, such a change in and of itself does not mean that any lore-described Nature is assumed.


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