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Getting a pet is very easy. You'll simply need to feed an animal that you like the looks of & then go & interact with it. You can then claim it.
You can have up to 6 pets, but 4 of the slots are locked at first. They cost nanites to unlock - 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000.
Pets have stats that can be changed through genetic modification - more on that in a minute. Those stats are either:
Helpfulness or Playfulness - How much they help you out or piss about. what they help with depends on accessory.
Devotion or Independence - (Presumably) How close they stay to you.
Gentleness or Aggression - Should be obvious really.
If you want your pet to do more mining or finding treasure, or whatever, equip the appropriate accessory, raise their helpfulness or aggression (& their loyalty to you via petting & feeding + time). They'll use their attachment more often & to greater effect the higher those stats are. Pointing at things with your pet quick menu helps too.
Pets have three age groups - child (recently hatched from an egg), adult & mature. Each stage can last for 1-10 days.
Each pet has the ability to lay a set amount of eggs. Take your pet to its preferred planet type (see info in pet menu) & ask it for an egg.
Now that you have your egg, take it to the egg sequencer near Cronus on the Space Anomaly & begin gene splicing to create a better pet.
The gene splicer has a slot for the egg and 4 slots for modifications, where you can add resources or items; these slots are:
Growth Hormone - Increases/decreases height & weight
Gene Splitter - Changes anatomy of creature e.g. adding new limbs. Leave blank if you're happy with how your creature looks.
Dye Injector - Changes colours on your pet. (Always reads as Unstable, just like Gene Splitter)
Neural Calibrator - Adjusts the stats on one set of the personality traits I mentioned earlier.
Eggs that are ready to hatch can be processed through the Egg Sequencer as many times as you want. This allows you to get 100% on all traits within the 1st generation of hatchlings. In addition this allows for a reroll on genetic traits and colour as well.
In most cases, the background of the resource/item in inventory is linked to the outcome of the colour on pet.
This is not always the case though. The basic resource (e.g. Carbon) only affects the primary colour where it's processed variant (e.g. Condensed Carbon) influences both primary and secondary colour mutations.