While constantly killing the same enemies for reputation, I noticed that an unlooted corpse remained in an area where I thought that I killed all of the enemies at the same time. It makes me wonder if that corpse remained there because it still had loot on it, or if I forgot to loot more than one of the corpses and some of the unlooted corpses disappeared.

About how long do corpses remain on the ground? Is it random (and if so, is there a minimum time)? Does leaving the corpses unlooted increase the amount of time that they can remain lying around?

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    Leaving corpses unlooted obviously increases the amount of time they remain behind. That's an easily observable fact. By how much, I am not sure though. – deutschZuid Jul 30 '12 at 3:31
  • If that is true, it eases my mind a bit. Considering so many things in WoW are RNG-based, I worried that unlooted mobs (all with the potential to carry a rare pet) were disappearing. – KOVIKO Jul 30 '12 at 3:48
  • Tonight, the Science will be applied to this problem. It might help the Science to know which mobs/faction the question is about. – Amy B Jul 30 '12 at 14:15
  • @DavidB I am specifically fighting Bloodsail pirates south of Booty Bay, in search of the fabled Hyacinth Macaw, while simultaneously (and slowly) grinding goblin rep. – KOVIKO Jul 30 '12 at 14:50
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    And so we add another question title to the list of questions not to ask out loud. – Ben Aug 1 '12 at 20:11

I slapped on my Boots of the Bay and nuked some bloodsail pirates. By using mana shield (expires after 1 minute) as a timer, I observed the following:

  • looted immediately, despawned after 3rd cast (2 minutes)
  • looted after 1 minute, despawned after 4rd cast (3 minutes, which is 2 minutes after looting)
  • uninspected, despawned after 6th cast (5 minutes)
  • inspected, despawned after 5.2 minutes (5 minutes after inspection)
  • inspecting each minute, lasted 10 casts (did not wait for despawn) - mob did respawn at 8.4 minutes. Killed the second mob, looted and the new corpse despawned after 2 minutes while original corpse still there.
  • killed and looted a jaguero stalker (skinnable). The corpse despawned 5 minutes after looting.

So, it seems that 2 minutes is the despawn time for looted corpses (unless salvagable, then it's 5 minutes). If there's loot it will despawn after 5 minutes. Inspecting the loot resets the timer.

It makes me wonder if that corpse remained there because

The neighboring corpses were looted and despawned after 2 minutes. This corpse stuck around for 3 more minutes with its loot, or you inadvertently inspected without looting causing it to remain for an additional 5 minutes.

I also scoured the patch notes, and the only one mentioning corpse despawning was for 2.4.2

Looting a boss while a player is outside of the instance will no longer cause the corpse to despawn in 2 minutes if the player still has loot on the corpse.

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    Amazing. And you also managed to get an official word from Blizzard mentioning a despawn timer. – KOVIKO Jul 31 '12 at 0:36
  • Do rares take longer do you think? – NathanTempelman Aug 8 '13 at 10:28
  • @NathanTempelman I don't think so. – Amy B Aug 8 '13 at 14:28
  • Took a look see, allegedly Vyragosa stays around for around half an hour if you kill it, unless you skin it. So maybe some rares do? – NathanTempelman Aug 10 '13 at 15:32

There is a period of time before an enemy despawns, although this doesn't appear to be a consistent period of time the following can be observed;

  • A corpse will remain longer if it is not looted
  • A corpse will disappear immediately if it is processed in any manner (skinning beasts, engineering mechanicals, herbalism, etc)
  • Enemies with quest items seem to take longer to depsawn
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