What are Some Magical Creatures in the Harry Potter Novels?

Mary McMahon

In the lush fictional world of the Harry Potter fantasy novels, J.K. Rowling has included a number of creatures, plants, and objects with magical powers. An exhaustive list is provided in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, a book which Rowling penned to benefit a British charity. A complete directory of magical creatures would encompass a multitude of wiseGEEK articles, but it may be helpful to know about a few remarkable animals in the Harry Potter novels. These animals are distinctive because of the roles that they play and the powers that they have.

Owls are important, if not magical, in the Harry Potter novels.
Owls are important, if not magical, in the Harry Potter novels.

The Harry Potter novels create a world for readers in which a magical world exists alongside the normal, or Muggle world. This magical world is immensely complex, and includes a number of witches, wizards, magical creatures, enchanted items, powerful plants, and other magical creatures which are not technically creatures, because they are sentient. Examples of this last category include house elves, goblins, and centaurs. The treatment of these individuals is an important theme in the Harry Potter novels, which recommend tolerance and respect for all creatures, not just humans.

Centaurs are featured in the Harry Potter novels, playing the role of mystics and astronomers.
Centaurs are featured in the Harry Potter novels, playing the role of mystics and astronomers.

Many of the magical creatures in the Harry Potter novels are recognizable to people who are not steeped in the Harry Potter universe. These animals are widely accepted as mythical beasts, and Rowling incorporated much of the common lore about them into her novels. Others, such as thestrals, magical horses closely associated with death and ill omens, appear to have sprung whole from the creative mind of J.K. Rowling.

Some of the most notable magical creatures are Fawkes the phoenix, an assortment of dragons, and hippogriffs. Fawkes plays an important role in the Harry Potter novels, and may have a bit of sentience of his own, as well as loyalty and healing powers. Dragons are also recurring characters in the novels, starting with Norbert in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997), the first book in the series. Potter also does battle with a dragon in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and dragons often crop up in the other books as well.

Hippogriffs are also frequently appearing magical creatures in the Harry Potter novels. A hippogriff is a cross between a griffin and a horse, with the body of a horse, the head of an eagle, and a powerful set of wings. The magical creatures first appear in the third novel, along with more mundane magical creatures such as flobberworms.

Many of the magical creatures in the Harry Potter novels have fleeting appearances and less than notable roles, such as knarls, kappas, unicorns, Cornish pixies, bowtruckles, doxies, fire crabs, puffskeins, and crumple-horned snorkacks. Others, such as Aragog the acromantula, a giant spider, play brief but very important roles. Owls, cats, and toads also frequent the Harry Potter novels, and although these animals are not technically magical, they are important.

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Discussion Comments


@croydon - It'll be interesting to see how she deals with that, actually. Although I don't think she's done too badly so far. From what I remember we do see some examples of foreign magical creatures, such as the mascots brought over by the Quidditch teams and they were all matched to the mythology of their countries of origin, such as Leprechauns being from Ireland.


@Iluviaporos - It should be really good, but in a way I wish they wouldn't do it. Whenever they put magical creatures into a movie, they basically define what they should look like for the whole generation and I quite like being able to picture it for myself from the book.

Not to mention, I'm a little bit worried about Rowling's ability to write authentic American magical fantasy. I really love her as an author, but it's going to be quite a tough order to come up with creatures that will suit the USA without drawing too much on European traditions and not enough on the creatures imagined in Native American traditions.


I am so excited that there is going to be a new movie based around Fantastic Beasts, which is the magical creatures encyclopedia for the Harry Potter world. It's going to be based around the fictional character who supposedly wrote the text book while traveling around America hunting down these mythical beasts. It sounds like it's going to be incredible, especially since it will be written by J. K. Rowling herself.

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