How do mutations in ARK Survival Evolved actually work?

How do mutation work in ARK Survival Evolved

Are you interested in the nerdiest of the nerdiest topics in ARK Survival Evolved? Breeding and mutations? This is your article! How do mutations work? How do we get double and triple mutations? You will learn this and much more in this article.

This article is a little more advanced. If you are still at the beginning for your ARK journey, make sure to keep an eye out for our beginner guides. If you don’t mind advanced topics, feel free to continue reading! Articles like this one demand a lot of time for research, testing and sciencing so if you like topics like this, make sure to share it with your friends, so they can learn everything about mutations as well!

I prepared some Infographics to explain certain scenarios a little better. If you are a visual learner like me, I bet you will profit from this approach as well.

We have 3 dino groups:

  1. The male and the females are all unmutated or below 20 mutations.
  2. The group already has a mutation capped male and unmutated females.
  3. All dinos – male and females—are mutation capped.

How do mutations happen?

Let’s first talk about how mutations happen and what happens within the game, so we can get mutations. This is a little complicated, but I am trying to explain it as easy as possible, I promise!

In order to get a mutation in the game, ARK goes through 6 different steps. Those steps contain tests if you can mutate at all. If you ever wondered what happened under “the hood” of ARK—keep reading.

Once you have put your male and the females on wander or mating you trigger a chain of several things:

1. Which colours will the offspring get?

This is actually the very first step when you mate two animals with each other. The game decides for every single colour region if the baby will get the mothers or fathers colour. The chances here are 50/50.

2. Which stats does the baby get?

The next step decides over the offspring stats. Here you will have a 55% chance to get the better stat on the baby. But keep in mind that it’s just 55% so just a slightly higher preference for the better stat. From my own experience you will still feel the frustration over wrong stats on your offspring.

3. Which stats can mutate?

In order to mutate a stat, the game needs to know if it actually can mutate the stat. Some dinos have hidden stats that you can’t mutate. You can’t mutate certain stats like movement speed, nursing effectiveness and melee on a diplodocus. The same goes for stats that you can not level like movement speed on flyers.

4. Trying to mutate 3 times

The game will now start 3 tries to mutate the baby. The next step decides over how many mutations the baby can actually get. The came choses from the list of the available stats one to mutate. We can also debunk the rumour that certain stats mutate more than others. The stats here are all equal. The stat tries to mutate and has a 2.5% chance to do so. The fact that the game tries to mutate three times is the reason there are double and triple mutations. If two tries to succeed, you get a double mutation. If every single try succeeds you will get a triple mutation and should consider playing the lottery.

This is where the fun starts

  • Next the game has to decide which side of the ancestry will be the source of the mutation chance. The chances here are not 50/50 as previously assumed. There is a 55% chance that the mutation will show up on the side of the parent who has the lower stat. This is super helpful for us because this will give us a higher chance on getting a mutation once the male is capped and can’t be the source of a mutation any more. If the female has a 55% chance to be the source, we also have a 55% chance to get a mutation with a capped male.
  • While this is all happening the game now checks if you CAN get a mutation at all, because if the parent it chooses as the source of the mutation already has more than 20 mutations combined, it will cancel the mutation right away—because this parent is capped. Only if the parent has below 20 combined mutations, the game will continue.
  • Let’s assume everything worked out as planned, the parent is not capped, and the mutation went through then there is another restriction in the game that got added just recently. If the stat the mutation tries to mutate reached 254 or 255 points, the game will cancel the mutation as well because the stat cap for each stat is 255 level points. Before this check was in the game, the stat would just roll over to 0 and start again which was really annoying for breeders who didn’t pay attention. But if everything goes well, we proceed to step 5.

5. Raise the stats by 2 for each successful mutation

Finally! In this step you will finally get higher stats in the mutated stat. When all tests succeeded, you can happily look at the better stat your offspring will show at birth.

6. Don’t forget about colour mutations

If you think that was all—you are wrong, because we can’t forget about colour mutations. Every mutation will trigger a colour mutation and the last step in this chain decides over the colour and region that will mutate.

First the game picks the region that can mutate. It is important to mention that Studio Wildcard has blocked certain regions on certain animals from mutating. Other animals on the other hand have unused regions that can still mutate. I have yet to see a pattern how the game decides if it blocks a region or not. If you don’t see a colour change on your mutated animal, check if it has hidden or unused regions.

Next it will choose the colour it mutates to. There are two different groups of colours you can get with a mutation. Group 1 are the normal dino colours and group 2 are the dye colours which were added to the game later. You have only a little chance to actually get a dye colour as a mutation because the game prefers the normal dinosaur colours greatly.

Those were the 6 steps on how mutations work in ARK Survival Evolved. All these mechanics were either researched by very smart theory crafters over the past years or by me and my friends with excessive testing in the game itself. Keep in mind that this article is only a description of how mutations work in ARK Survival Evolved right now. I will try to keep this article updated if game mechanics will change drastically. And now and go mutated you boss dinos!


Tiia is a bilingual Content Creator for the game ARK: Survival Evolved. She has over 12k hours experience in the game and her main interest is the complex breeding mechanic in ARK.

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