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HPL Bestiary This page has been updated for Book 7.

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B

banshee - Basilisk - beetle - Bicorn - Bigfoot - Billywig - birds - Biting Fairy - Blast-Ended Skrewt - bloodhounds, albino - Blood-Sucking Bugbear - boarhound - Boggart - Boomslang - Bowtruckle - Bugbear - Bundimun



banshee

banshee creature from Muggle legends or mythology

Rating Unknown (PA7, GF21, FB)

A Dark creature with the appearance of a woman with floor-length black hair and a skeletal, green-tinged face. Its screams will kill. Seamus Finnigan is particularly afraid of banshees (PA7). The Bandon Banshee was supposedly defeated by Gilderoy Lockhart (CS6) but was actually defeated by a witch with a hairy chin (see CS16). The singer Celestina Warbeck performs with a backing group of banshees (DP).


Basilisk (the King of Serpents) more info in Fantastic Beasts - click here to ordercreature from Muggle legends or mythology

XXXXX (CS16 ff., FB)

A wizard-bred Dark creature of enormous power, this extremely poisonous giant serpent (up to 50 feet in length) is brilliant green in color with long thin saber-like fangs and bulbous yellow eyes (see more below). The first basilisk was created by Herpo the Foul thousands of years ago (FW).

A basilisk can live for at least 900 years given an adequate food supply, and as it can eat most vertebrates (including humans), this is not difficult to achieve. The male can be distinguished from the female by the scarlet plume on its head, but basilisks are usually magically rather than normally bred.

Basilisk-breeding has been outlawed since medieval times and in the present day falls under the Ban on Experimental Breeding, but this law has rarely been broken even by Dark wizards, since only a Parselmouth can control a basilisk.

"Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious or more deadly than the Basilisk, known also as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken's egg, hatched beneath a toad. Its methods of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death. Spiders flee before the Basilisk, for it is their mortal enemy, and the Basilisk flees only from the crowing of the rooster, which is fatal to it." (CS16)

shed basilisk skin The phoenix seems immune to the basilisk's deadly gaze (CS16 ff.)

When unleashed by the Heir of Slytherin using Parseltongue, the basilisk that lived in the Chamber of Secrets searched the castle for its prey, Muggle-born students, which it apparently could identify by smelling their blood ("I smell blood..." the creature cried as it wandered the pipes). When its eyes were pecked out by Fawkes, it attacked Harry using its keen sense of smell. Harry killed the basilisk by thrusting a sword through the roof of its mouth. Harry's arm was pierced by one of the basilisk's fangs, the poison of which nearly killed him.

Apart from its specific magical powers and long lifespan, many of the characteristics of the basilisk follow naturally from its being a serpent (see). Like more mundane serpents, the basilisk sheds its skin at intervals, and its varied diet is typical of the larger snakes, which tend to pursue larger and larger prey according to their own size and capabilities. It's quite possible that had Harry both retained his wand and been more experienced in Defence Against the Dark Arts, he might have lost his battle against the basilisk in attempting to use Stunning Spells; although not explicitly stated, the basilisk's skin probably has the same armor characteristics as dragon skin, leaving its eyes and the inside of its mouth as its only vulnerable points.

recommend book link"...the basilisk was portrayed as a serpent with a crown or a white spot on its head. Cobras, which have such marks, may be the origin of the basilisk legend..." (pp. 21-22) (c.f. pp. 95-96)

"basilisk" Eng. in the legendary sense means this creature, but also comes from L. "basilicus" royal, so the nickname "King of Serpents" is particularly apt. The detail about males being crested appears to come from the real-life basilisk, which is a kind of iguana.

According to CS/f, the basilisk that lived in the Chamber of Secrets could be controlled only by the true Heir of Slytherin rather than just any Parselmouth, but there is no canon backing for this.


beetle

Rating Unknown


Bicorn creature from Muggle legends or mythology

Rating Unknown

Horn of this creature is used as a potion ingredient. The name "bicorn" suggests a creature with two horns. The Bicorn is a mythical demonic creature which eats human flesh. WEB LINKoccultopedia.com


Bigfoot creature from Muggle legends or mythology

XXXX - Pacific Northwest

Another name for the yeti; the Bigfoot variety lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (FB).


Billywig

Billywig more info in Fantastic Beasts - click here to order

XXX (FB) - Australia

A magical insect, native to Australia.It is about a half-inch long and vivid blue in color. A Billywig's sting causes giddiness and levitation. For this reason, the Billywig's sting is highly sought after by Australian wizards. Dried Billywig stingers are useful as a potion ingredient.


birds and bird-like creatures


Biting Fairy

XXX - Northern Europe and America

Another name for the Doxy.


Blast-Ended Skrewt

Unrated - Probably Illegally Bred in Scotland (GF13 ff.)

Magical creatures bred by Hagrid prior to the autumn of 1994 by crossing manticores with fire-crabs. Blast-Ended Skrewts are some of the most revolting creatures ever seen. [more...]

The name "Blast-Ended Skrewt" may be a reference to the term "blasting off" which is slang in some parts of Britain for breaking wind.


bloodhound, albino Muggle

Rating Unknown - England

The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures keeps some albino bloodhounds around to be used against Nogtails (FB).


Blood-Sucking Bugbear creature from Muggle legends or mythology

Rating Unknown - Scotland

When roosters were being killed at Hogwarts (1992 - 1993 [Y12-Y13]), Hagrid suspected that the culprit might be a blood-sucking bugbear (CS11).

See also bugbear.


boarhound Muggle

Rating Unknown - Worldwide

Hagrid's pet Fang is a black boarhound (U.S.: a Great Dane), a large breed of dog used in hunting wild boars.

Like Hagrid, Fang much fiercer than he is. Fang accompanies Hagrid into the Forbidden Forest and also went with Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Draco when they served detention in the Forest. Hagrid told them that Fang is a coward, but this may have been more an oblique comment on Draco's behaviour than the strict truth about Fang. When Harry and Ron followed the spiders into the Forest and encountered Aragog, Fang accompanied with them. When Hagrid resisted arrest late in Harry's fifth year, Fang was injured in attempting to protect Hagrid, but recovered.

According to WEB LINKGreat Danes - Their Origin and Temperament, boarhounds (unlike other large breeds) do not slobber from their mouths, as Fang has been shown doing (PS8, CS7).

Boggart creature from Muggle legends or mythology

Professor Boggart Snape

Rating Unknown

A shape shifter that prefers to live in dark, confined spaces, taking the form of the thing most feared by the person it encounters; nobody knows what a boggart looks like in its natural state (although Moody recognized one using his magical eye to spot it as it hid in a corner desk at number twelve, Grimmauld Place. One wonders what it was that Moody actually saw...). A boggart appears to feed on the emotion of fear rather than simply deploying this ability as a defense mechanism, hence its classification as a Dark creature (PA7). Many Muggle children may have encountered boggarts as "the monster under the bed", though this is not stated explicitly in the text.

Lupin taught his third year Defence Against the Dark Arts class to fight this with the Riddikulus spell (PA7), and used a boggart as a substitute for a Dementor in tutoring Harry (PA12), an experience Harry felt the D.A. really needed in order to learn to cast the Patronus Charm under something resembling realistic conditions (OP27). A boggart was one of the obstacles in the Triwizard Tournament maze (GF31), and a boggart was found infesting a writing desk in the drawing room at Grimmauld Place (OP9).

recommend book link "Often they are house spirits, and in those cases the only way to get rid of them is to move...The more frustrated the family becomes, the more fun the boggart has." (pp. 33-34)

Alastor Moody once used his magical eye to look up through several flights of stairs and into a writing desk with a boggart inside it. He then told Molly Weasley that in fact the desk contained a boggart, so he obviously saw and identified it. While he may know what a boggart looks like when it's hiding and away from people, it's possible that when he looked he saw nothing but a blur and therefore knew that--since he couldn't even see it--it had to be a boggart. Another possibility is that Moody saw whatever form a boggart takes for him, and deduced that if it were inside a writing desk it must be a boggart and not his actual worst fear.


Boomslang Muggle

Rating Unknown - Africa

An African snake, Dispholidus typus, with extremely nasty venom. The skin, which is mostly green in males and mostly brown in females, serves the snake well as camouflage, and is used for Polyjuice Potion. Snape keeps boomslang skin in his private stores (CS10, CS11, GF27).

"boomslang" is an English loan-word from Afrikaans, whence it was in turn formed from two Dutch words, "boom" Du. tree + "slang" Du. snake [NSOED]


Bowtruckle more info in Fantastic Beasts - click here to order

XX - Britain, Germany, & Scandinavia

A small (maximum height 8 inches) insect-eating tree-dweller with long sharp fingers (two on each hand), brown eyes, and a general appearance of a flat-faced little stickman made of bark and twigs, which serves well as camouflage in its native habitat.

Found in western England, southern Germany, and Scandinavia, a bowtruckle serves as tree-guardian for its home tree, which is usually a tree whose wood is of wand quality. The twiglike fingers of the bowtruckle appear to be primarily an adaptation like that of a woodpecker's beak, allowing it to more effectively dig out its preferred food of wood lice from its home tree, but they also serve as an effective weapon against the eyes of an opponent. Although ordinarily peaceful, a bowtruckle will attack a human if provoked (which includes perceived assaults upon the bowtruckle's tree as well as the bowtruckle itself). A witch or wizard seeking to take leaves or wood from a bowtruckle-inhabited tree should offer woodlice or fairy eggs to the bowtruckle to placate and distract it (FB, OP13).

"bow" several English senses, but the obsolete Scottish dialect sense traces back to much older words meaning "dwelling", while some senses come from the same root as the English word "bough", meaning the limb of a tree +
"truckle" Eng. to take a subordinate position


Bugbear creature from Muggle legends or mythology

Rating Unknown - Scotland



"bugbear" Eng. a type of magical creature (possibly resembling a bear) in legend that was supposed to eat naughty children; the term (through being used generally as a label for any imaginary being used to scare children) has come to mean any exaggerated fear based more on imaginary than real danger


Bundimun

Bundimunmore info in Fantastic Beasts - click here to order

XXX - Worldwide

Greenish fungus with eyes. An infestation of Bundimuns can destroy a house, as their secretions rot away the foundations. This same secretion, in diluted form, is used in some magical cleaning solutions (FB).


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Primary editor: Steve Vander Ark. Assistant editor(s): John Kearns, Michele Worley.
original artwork of banshee © Taelin Raintree, used by permission
original artwork of shed basilisk skin by Mary GrandPré © Warner Bros., used by permission
original artwork of billywig and bundimun © 2002 Red Scharlach, used by permission
original artwork of Neville and Snape boggart © Laura Freeman, used by permission
recommend book link indicates references from The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter by David Colbert, © 2001, Berkley Books, used by permission

Original page date 25 February 2001; Last page update July 11, 2012 SVA