These unfortunate mishaps notwithstanding, we wizards may congratulate ourselves on a job well done. There can be no doubt that the overwhelming majority of present-day Muggles refuse to believe in the magical beasts their ancestors so feared. Even those Muggles who do notice Porlock droppings or Streeler trails – it would be foolish to suppose that all traces of these creatures can be hidden – appear satisfied with the flimsiest non-magical explanation.8 If any Muggle is unwise enough to confide in another that he has spotted a Hippogriff winging its way north, he is generally believed to be drunk or a “loony.” Unfair though this may seem on the Muggle in question, it is nevertheless preferable to being burnt at the stake or drowned in the village duckpond.
So how does the wizarding community hide fantastic beasts?
Luckily, some species do not require much wizarding assistance in avoiding the notice of Muggles. Creatures such as the Tebo, the Demiguise, and the Bowtruckle have their own highly effective means of camouflage and no intervention by the Ministry of Magic has ever been necessary on their behalf. Then there are those beasts that, due to cleverness or innate shyness, avoid contact with Muggles at all costs – for instance, the unicorn, the Mooncalf, and the centaur. Other magical creatures inhabit places inaccessible to Muggles – one thinks of the Acromantula, deep in the uncharted jungle of Borneo, and the phoenix, nesting high on mountain peaks unreachable without the use of magic. Finally, and most commonly, we have beasts that are too small, too speedy, or too adept at passing for mundane animals to attract a Muggle’s attention – Chizpurfles, Billywigs, and Crups fall into this category.
Nevertheless there are still plenty of beasts that, whether willfully or inadvertently, remain conspicuous even to the Muggle eye, and it is these that create a significant amount of work for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. This department, the second largest at the Ministry of Magic,9 deals with the varying needs of the many species under its care in a variety of different ways.
Perhaps the most important step in the concealment of magical creatures is the creation of safe habitats. Muggle-Repelling Charms prevent trespassers into the forests where centaurs and unicorns live, and on the lakes and rivers set aside for the use of merpeople. In extreme cases, such as that of the Quintaped, whole areas have been made unplottable.10
Some of these safe areas must be kept under constant wizarding supervision; for example, dragon reservations. While unicorns and merpeople are only too happy to stay within the territories designated for their use, dragons will seek any opportunity to set forth in search of prey beyond the reservation borders. In some cases Muggle-Repelling Charms will not work, as the beast’s own powers will cancel them. Cases in point are the kelpie, whose sole aim in life is to attract humans towards it, and the Pogrebin, which seeks out humans for itself.
Controls on Selling and Breeding
The possibility of a Muggle being alarmed by any of the larger or more dangerous magical beasts has been greatly reduced by the severe penalties now attached to their breeding and the sale of their young and eggs. The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures keeps a strict watch on the trade in fantastic beasts. The 1965 Ban on Experimental Breeding has made the creation of new species illegal.
The wizard on the street also plays a part in the concealment of magical beasts. Those who own a Hippogriff, for example, are bound by law to enchant the beast with a Disillusionment Charm to distort the vision of any Muggle who may see it. Disillusionment Charms should be performed daily, as their effects are apt to wear off.
When the worst happens and a Muggle sees what he or she is not supposed to see, the Memory Charm is perhaps the most useful repair tool. The Memory Charm may be performed by the owner of the beast in question, but in severe cases of Muggle notice, a team of trained Obliviators may be sent in by the Ministry of Magic.
The Office of Misinformation
The Office of Misinformation will become involved in only the very worst magical-Muggle collisions. Some magical catastrophes or accidents are simply too glaringly obvious to be explained away by Muggles without the help of an outside authority. The Office of Misinformation will in such a case liaise directly with the Muggle prime minister to seek a plausible non-magical explanation for the event. The unstinting efforts of this office in persuading Muggles that all photographic evidence of the Loch Ness kelpie is fake have gone some way to salvaging a situation that at one time looked exceedingly dangerous.
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7 In his 1972 book Muggles Who Notice, Blenheim Stalk asserts that some residents of Ilfracombe escaped the Mass Memory Charm. “To this day, a Muggle bearing the nickname ‘Dodgy Dirk’ holds forth in bars along the south coast on the subject of a ‘dirty great flying lizard’ that punctured his lilo.”
8 For a fascinating examination of this fortunate tendency of Muggles, the reader might like to consult The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why the Muggles Prefer Not to Know, Professor Mordicus Egg (Dust & Mildewe, 1963).
9 The largest department at the Ministry of Magic is the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, to which the remaining six departments are all, in some respect, answerable – with the possible exception of the Department of Mysteries.
10 When an area of land is made unplottable, it is impossible to chart on maps.
WHY MAGIZOOLOGY MATTERS
The measures described above merely hint at the full scope and extent of the work done by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. It remains only to answer that question to which we all, in our hearts, know the answer: Why do we continue, as a community and as individuals, to attempt to protect and conceal magical beasts, even those that are savage and untameable? The answer is, of course: to ensure that future generations of witches and wizards enjoy their strange beauty and powers as we have been privileged to do.
I offer this work as a mere introduction to the wealth of fantastic beasts that inhabit our world. Seventy-five species are described in the following pages, but I do not doubt that some time this year yet another will be discovered, necessitating a fifty-third revised edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In the meantime I will merely add that it affords me great pleasure to think that generations of young witches and wizards have grown to a fuller knowledge and understanding of the fantastic beasts I love through the pages of this book.
MINISTRY OF MAGIC CLASSIFICATIONS
The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures gives classifications to all known beasts, beings, and spirits. These offer an at-a-glance guide to the perceived dangerousness of a creature. The five categories are as follows:
Ministry of Magic (M.O.M.) Classification
Known wizard killer / impossible/ to train or domesticate
Dangerous / requires specialist knowledge / skilled wizard may handle
Competent wizard should cope
Harmless / may be domesticated
In some cases I have felt an explanation for the classification of a particular beast is necessary and have added footnotes accordingly.
AN A–Z OF FANTASTIC BEASTS
M.O.M. Classification: XXXXX
The Acromantula is a monstrous eight-eyed spider capable of human speech. It originated in Borneo, where it inhabits dense jungle. Its distinctive features include the thick black hair that covers its body; its legspan, which may reach up to fifteen feet; its pincers, which produce a distinctive clicking sound when the Acromantula is excited or angry; and a poisonous secretion. The Acromantula is carnivorous and prefers large prey. It spins dome-shaped webs upon the ground. The female is bigger than the male and may lay up to one hundred eggs at a time. Soft and white, these are as large as beach balls. The young hatch in six to eight weeks. Acromantula eggs are defined as Class A Non-Tradeable Goods by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, meaning that severe penalties are attached to their importation or sale.
This beast is believed to be wizard-bred, possibly intended to guard wizard dwellings or treasure, as is often the case with magically created monsters.1 Despite its near-human intelligence, the Acromantula is untrainable and highly dangerous to wizard and Muggle alike.
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1 Beasts capable of human speech are rarely self-taught; an exception is the Jarvey. The Ban on Experimental Breeding did not come into effect until this century, long after the first recorded sighting of an Acromantula in 1794.
M.O.M. Classification: XXX
The Ashwinder is created when a magical fire2 is allowed to burn unchecked for too long. A thin, pale-grey serpent with glowing red eyes, it will rise from the embers of an unsupervised fire and slither away into the shadows of the dwelling in which it finds itself, leaving an ashy trail behind it.
The Ashwinder lives for only an hour and during that time seeks a dark and secluded spot in which to lay its eggs, after which it will collapse into dust. Ashwinder eggs are brilliant red and give off intense heat. They will ignite the dwelling within minutes if not found and frozen with a suitable charm. Any wizard realising that one or more Ashwinders are loose in the house must trace them immediately and locate the nest of eggs. Once frozen, these eggs are of great value for use in Love Potions and may be eaten whole as a cure for ague.
Ashwinders are found worldwide.
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2 Any fire to which a magical substance such as Floo powder has been added.
AUGUREY(also known as Irish Phoenix)
M.O.M. Classification: XX
The Augurey is a native of Britain and Ireland, though sometimes found elsewhere in northern Europe. A thin and mournful-looking bird, somewhat like a small and underfed vulture in appearance, the Augurey is greenish black. It is intensely shy, nests in bramble and thorn, eats large insects and fairies, flies only in heavy rain, and otherwise remains hidden in its tear-shaped nest.
The Augurey has a distinctive low and throbbing cry, which was once believed to foretell death. Wizards avoided Augurey nests for fear of hearing that heart-rending sound, and more than one wizard is believed to have suffered a heart attack on passing a thicket and hearing an unseen Augurey wail.3 Patient research eventually revealed, however, that the Augurey merely sings at the approach of rain.4 The Augurey has since enjoyed a vogue as a home weather forecaster, though many find its almost continual moaning during the winter months difficult to bear. Augurey feathers are useless as quills because they repel ink.
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3 Uric the Oddball is known to have slept in a room containing no fewer than fifty pet Augureys. During one particularly wet winter, Uric became convinced by the moaning of his Augureys that he had died and was now a ghost. His subsequent attempts to walk through the walls of his house resulted in what his biographer Radolphus Pittiman describes as a “concussion of ten days’ duration.”
4 See Why I Didn’t Die When the Augurey Cried by Gulliver Pokeby, 1824 (Little Red Books).
BASILISK(also known as the King of Serpents)
M.O.M. Classification: XXXXX
The first recorded Basilisk was bred by Herpo the Foul, a Greek Dark wizard and Parselmouth, who discovered after much experimentation that a chicken egg hatched beneath a toad would produce a gigantic serpent possessed of extraordinarily dangerous powers.
The Basilisk is a brilliant green serpent that may reach up to fifty feet in length. The male has a scarlet plume upon its head. It has exceptionally venomous fangs but its most dangerous means of attack is the gaze of its large yellow eyes. Anyone looking directly into these will suffer instant death.
If the food source is sufficient (the Basilisk will eat all mammals and birds and most reptiles), the serpent may attain a very great age. Herpo the Foul’s Basilisk is believed to have lived for close on nine hundred years.
The creation of Basilisks has been illegal since medieval times, although the practice is easily concealed by simply removing the chicken egg from beneath the toad when the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures comes to call. However, since Basilisks are uncontrollable except by Parselmouths, they are as dangerous to most Dark wizards as to anybody else, and there have been no recorded sightings of Basilisks in Britain for at least four hundred years.
M.O.M. Classification: XXX
The Billywig is an insect native to Australia. It is around half an inch long and a vivid sapphire blue, although its speed is such that it is rarely noticed by Muggles and often not by wizards until they have been stung. The Billywig’s wings are attached to the top of its head and are rotated very fast so that it spins as it flies. At the bottom of the body is a long thin sting. Those who have been stung by a Billywig suffer giddiness followed by levitation. Generations of young Australian witches and wizards have attempted to catch Billywigs and provoke them into stinging in order to enjoy these side effects, though too many stings may cause the victim to hover uncontrollably for days on end, and where there is a severe allergic reaction, permanent floating may ensue. Dried Billywig stings are used in several potions and are believed to be a component in the popular sweet Fizzing Whizbees.
M.O.M. Classification: XX
The Bowtruckle is a tree-guardian creature found mainly in the west of England, southern Germany, and certain Scandinavian forests. It is immensely difficult to spot, being small (maximum eight inches in height) and apparently made of bark and twigs with two small brown eyes.
The Bowtruckle, which eats insects, is a peaceable and intensely shy creature but if the tree in which it lives is threatened, it has been known to leap down upon the woodcutter or tree-surgeon attempting to harm its home and gouge at their eyes with its long, sharp fingers. An offering of woodlice will placate the Bowtruckle long enough to let a witch or wizard remove wand-wood from its tree.