Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Published in 2001, Fantastic Beasts is a “companion book” to the Harry Potter series – written for charity and designed to imitate the book of the same title that Harry carries around Hogwarts (right down to his notes in the margins). The book is a fun read, but its real treasure is the encyclopedia of magical creatures. Some creatures are based on legends and others entirely made up, but depictions of these animals are rare. Here are some of the better drawings I’ve found.

Newt Scamander and Snidgets, by Edgar Torné

About the Author

Newt Scamander was awarded the Order of Merlin, Second Class, in 1979 in recognition of his services to the study of magical beasts, Magizoology….


The Clearing in the Forest, by Michael Dunn


A monstrous eight-eyed spider capable of human speech…. Despite its near-human intelligence, the Acromantula is untrainable and highly dangerous to wizard and Muggle alike.


Augurey II, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.

Augurey (Irish Phoenix)

The Augurey has a distinctive low and throbbing cry, which was once believed to foretell death…. Patient research eventually revealed, however, that the Augurey merely sings at the approach of rain.


Basilisk in the Chamber, by Laurence Peguy


Herpo the Foul, a Greek Dark wizard and Parselmouth, discovered after much experimentation that a chicken egg hatched beneath a toad would produce a gigantic serpent possessed of extraordinarily dangerous powers.


Bowtruckle, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


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….


Bane & Firenze, by Laurence Peguy


Being intelligent and capable of speech, it should not strictly speaking be termed a beast, but by its own request it has been classified as such by the Ministry of Magic.


Clabbert, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


A tree-dwelling creature, in appearance something like a cross between a monkey and a frog….


Doxy, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


Like the fairy, it has a minute human form, though in the Doxy’s case this is covered in thick black hair and has an extra pair of arms and legs.


Dragon, by Laurence Peguy


Probably the most famous of all magical beasts, dragons are among the most difficult to hide.


Erkling, by Laura Williams (aka Eudocia)


It is larger than a gnome, with a pointed face and a high-pitched cackle that is particularly entrancing to children, whom it will attempt to lure away from their guardians and eat.


Erumpent, by Stephanie Schmidt


The Erumpent will not attack unless sorely provoked, but should it charge, the results are usually catastrophic.


Fwooper, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


Though at first enjoyable, Fwooper song will eventually drive the listener to insanity….


Glumbumble, by Cambryn


The Glumbumble is a grey, furry-bodied flying insect that produces melancholy-inducing treacle….

(by Cambryn)


Graphorn, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


Mountain trolls can occasionally be seen mounted on Graphorns, though the latter do not seem to take kindly to attempts to tame them and it is more common to see a troll covered in Graphorn scars.


Grindylow, by Tealin Raintree


A horned, pale-green water demon…. the Grindylow has very long fingers, which, though they exert a powerful grip, are easy to break.


Buckbeak, by Laurence Peguy


It can be tamed, though this should be attempted only by experts.


Jarvey, by Agatha Macpie


It resembles an overgrown ferret in most respects, except for the fact that it can talk…. the Jarvey tends to confine itself to short (and often rude) phrases in an almost constant stream.


Jobberknoll, by Laura Williams (aka Eudocia)


It makes no sound until the moment of its death, at which point it lets out a long scream made up of every sound it has ever heard, regurgitated backwards.


Kelpie, by Agatha Macpie


Having lured the unwary onto its back, it will dive straight to the bottom of its river or lake and devour the rider.


Lethifold, by Laura Williams (aka Eudocia)


The Lethifold… resembles a black cloak perhaps half an inch thick (thicker if it has recently killed and digested a victim), which glides around the ground at night.


Merfolk, by lberghol


Merpeople exist throughout the world, though they vary in appearance almost as much as humans.


Murtlap, by Laura Williams (aka Eudocia)


When pickled and eaten, Murtlap growths promote resistance to curses and jinxes, though an overdose may cause unsightly purple ear hair.


Niffler, by Laura Williams (aka Eudocia)


Though the Niffler is gentle and even affectionate, it can be destructive to belongings and should never be kept in a house.


Nogtail, by C. W. Bexiga


The Nogtail is exceptionally fast and difficult to catch, though if chased beyond the boundaries of a farm by a pure white dog, it will never return.


Nundu, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


A gigantic leopard that moves silently despite its size and whose breath causes disease virulent enough to eliminate entire villages….


Occamy, by Agatha Macpie


The Occamy is aggressive to all who approach it, particularly in defense of its eggs, whose shells are made of the purest, softest silver.


Fawkes, by Sanna Lorenzen


Phoenix song is powerful; it is reputed to increase the courage of the pure of heart and to strike fear into the hearts of the impure….


Plimpy, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.


Merpeople… deal with it by tying its rubbery legs in a knot; the Plimpy then drifts away, unable to steer, and cannot return until it has untied itself.


Runespoor, by Stephanie Schmidt


The Runespoor rarely reaches a great age, as the heads tend to attack each other.


Golden Snidget, by Agatha Macpie


The Golden Snidget’s feathers and eyes are so highly prized that it was at one time in danger of being hunted to extinction by wizards.


Troll, by Edgar Torné


Notable for its equally prodigious strength and stupidity….


Werewolf Lupin, by Laurence Peguy


Humans turn into werewolves only when bitten.


about the book

Some Things You May Not Have Noticed

There are quite a few interesting tidbits thrown in that pertain to the Harry Potter stories:

  • It’s mentioned that Bathilda Bagshot first published A History of Magic in 1947. Hermione tells us that Bagshot doesn’t cover anything beyond the nineteenth century, so it seems subsequent editions of the book have probably born few, if any, changes from the original.
  • We also learn that in 1965 the Ministry of Magic enacted a Ban on Experimental Breeding, which criminalized the creation of new creatures. In other words, when Hagrid created Blast-Ended Skrewts – a creature which he seems to admit to Rita Skeeter was a cross between a manticore and a fire crab – he not only should have been “closely observed” by the Ministry, as Rita pointed out, but was almost certainly directly breaking the law. Given the publicity in the Daily Prophet, it’s rather curious that we never hear of any ramifications for that particular incident.
  • How exactly Hagrid managed to breed anything with a manticore, on the other hand, is an even greater mystery. They live only in Greece and are far more dangerous than even the Acromantula, with a sting that “causes instant death.” Did he get a baby manticore, somehow, and bring it to Britain like he did with Aragog? Is there a manticore roaming the Forbidden Forest now?(!) For that matter, what would have happened if the Skrewts had inherited the manticore’s venom? How would Hagrid have found out that they didn’t? Yikes.
  • Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Hagrid break the law, either – both Acromantula eggs and dragon eggs are illegal to trade or sell. The man is willing to take some serious risks for the sake of his “interestin’ creatures.”
  • There’s an interesting line in the basilisk’s entry: “If the food source is sufficient, the serpent may attain a very great age.” If the food source is sufficient? It seems a bit of a stretch to suggest that there have been enough rats in the Chamber of Secrets to sustain Slytherin’s basilisk for a millenium; after all, why would the rats go down there, when there’s no food source present that would interest them to begin with? Perhaps Slytherin anticipated this and set up some sort of magical, self-reproducing rat food? Seems to me like a rather unglamorous side to the legend of the Chamber of Secrets….
  • Not that we needed another indication of Dumbledore’s greatness, but there are some hints in this book that some of the things he’s accomplished are exceedingly rare. “Very few” wizards are reputed to have successfully domesticated a phoenix, yet Dumbledore calls Fawkes “highly faithful.” Meanwhile, sufficiently few people have learned Mermish that the merpeoples’ lives are a mystery to wizards; while thanks to Dumbledore’s relationship with the Hogwarts mermaids, Harry was able to swim right through their village as part of a Triwizard task. Dumbledore was a skilled magician, but we also see more and more evidence that he had uncommon kindness and understanding as well.


The Power of Magic

One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading through Fantastic Beasts (and especially the footnotes!) is the references Rowling makes to our everyday unexplained phenomena, and how they are actually the work of magical creatures. Electrical devices dying without explanation? An infestation of chizpurfles, of course. The dodo’s gone extinct? No, it only seems that way because it’s really a diricawl. Crop circles, the abonimable snowman, fairy tales, and the Loch Ness Monster are similarly explained. Rowling’s ability to blend the magical world with our own mundane reality is one of the things that make her stories so special, and she showcases that special talent magnificently in the pages of this book.


There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that must be involved in reading this textbook – after all, it would of course make no sense that Harry’s actual book would ever have been anything like this small, yet we understand that it also wouldn’t have made sense for J.K. Rowling to have written a full novel-sized encyclopedia for her fictitious creatures. However, at the same time, there are some glaring omissions from the book: creatures we discover reading the seven novels that go mysteriously unmentioned here. Boggarts, dementors, and hinkypunks had all featured prominently in the books well before Fantastic Beasts was published; several other seemingly magical creatures (the bicorn, blood-sucking bugbear, cockatrice, and flesh-eating slug) had been mentioned in passing as well. It’s hard to say why these creatures might have been left out; whether by some choice or mere oversight. But it’s a shame that these creatures aren’t catalogued along with all the rest.

The Final Word

“I’ve taken horrible liberties with folklore and mythology, but I’m quite unashamed about that, because British folklore and British mythology is a totally bastard mythology. You know, we’ve been invaded by people, we’ve appropriated their gods, we’ve taken their mythical creatures, and we’ve soldered them all together to make, what I would say, is one of the richest folklores in the world, because it’s so varied. So I feel no compunction about borrowing from that freely, but adding a few things of my own….

Children… know that I didn’t invent unicorns, but I’ve had to explain frequently that I didn’t actually invent hippogriffs. Although a hippogriff is quite obscure, I went looking, because when I do use a creature that I know is a mythological entity, I like to find out as much as I can about it. I might not use it, but to make it as consistent as I feel is good for my plot. There’s very little on hippogriffs… they don’t seem to have been closely observed by many medieval naturalists, so I could take liberties.”–J.K. Rowling, December 2005

20 Responses to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

  1. Yet another awesome update Josie! I really enjoyed it, especially since I’ve never really expected to find pictures of many of the creatures from harry potter save for the few Harry interacts with directly.

    I also never thought of the creatures that JKR left out of Fantastic Beasts… IT definitely is interesting as to why she would do so.

    Thanks for another great update!

  2. Awesome artwork.

  3. I love the wizard scaled in the background in the dragon picture. And the Jarvey speech bubble.

    I recently wrote a fanfiction where I had to contend with the Basilisk’s feeding habits. I imagine Slytherin gave the house-elves a secret, perpetual order to keep leaving food at a secret location. (There were probably other ways in, I think–how would he have left the chamber through the bathroom entrance?)

  4. Woderful update and great art, as usual. The picture of Newt Scamander makes me want to go exploring with him!

  5. Great essay. Love having the pictures of the beasts. The phoenix is just gorgeous.

  6. As a long-time fan of mythical creatures, I enjoyed “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (though I share your thought that it seems surprisingly small for a school textbook).

    You left out one of the most delightful elements; Harry and Ron’s marginal notes (and even Hermione telling Ron off for buying Dungbombs instead of a replacement book on the first page). They’re even playing Hangman in it!

    Maybe boggarts and dementors were left out because they aren’t truly creatures. Though the absence of some of the others you mentioned is harder to explain. Cockatrices, of course, ara a variant of basilisks, but aren’t mentioned in the basilisk entry. (They’re probably the kind of basilisk that looks like a monstrous rooster – I prefer that take on basilisks over the “giant snake” version, though the latter fitted the Parseltongue element of the story much better.)

    Maybe the basilisk was in suspended animation until Voldemort in his “Heir of Slytherin” role awakened it?

  7. I’m so glad you’ve been able to create a page for this book. I’m quite surprised that you managed to find so much artwork for it. It’s nice to compare the images to the pictures I have in my head.

  8. What an amazing page! Thank you, Josie, for all the work you’ve put into this site.

  9. Josie, you’re the best! Thanks for looking for new art and putting this page together! Like Amy said, I love comparing these pieces to the images I had conjured in my head.

    My favorite piece was the first with Newt Scamander. It makes me want to put on my hiking boots and join him in his explorations. And I really enjoyed all the pieces contributed by Laura Williams and Juan Ruben Juarez M. What great artists!

    I thought along the same lines as Todd; didn’t the books say something about how the creature would lay in wait or sleep until its master returned? (I’d check, but my living room is an explosion of moving boxes, bleh.) So my mind naturally went to something like frozen/suspended animation. And, yeah, I’d think that there is a secondary entrance/exit (most likely exit only) since it’s hard to leave by way of the bathroom sink. :)

  10. Very good, another fine chapter.
    If Luna would look at this page, however, she would be upset that none has drawn some other creatures, like, for instance, the Gernumbli gardensi (aka gnome, I could almost bet that a picture of one was around this site somewhere) :(

  11. Jose Lopes, one of the things I decided worked best on this page was not including drawings that had specific drawings of characters in them, so that eliminated a lot of possibilities for gnomes, nifflers, and so on. Drawings of HP gnomes are hard to find, too – tend to get lots of images of the Muggle version. :)

  12. Perhaps the beasts that aren’t mentioned in the book are artificially engineered creations of wizardkind? After all, there’s no entry for Three-Headed Dog, which is certainly not a natural species, as Fluffy is released into the Forest with no prospect of finding a mate. Some deeply evil person might have conjured up the first Dementor, which then proceeded to reproduce and multiply exponentially off the misery of the world’s people. The Flesh-Eating Slugs and the Blood-Sucking Bugbears might only exist on Hogwarts grounds as a result of some spell gone awry, or maybe Scamander doesn’t know about them. Cockatrices, as highly undesirable creatures, might be extinct, leaving only the serpentine Basilisks. The Bicorn I really don’t have an explanation for, since they exist in sufficient number to allow the students to use their horn in potions. Perhaps we simply know the Bicorn by a different name, like the Diricawl, and it’s not magical at all?

  13. Incidentally, on the topic I mentioned earlier of Harry and Ron’s scribbles – anyone besides me think it was a good thing for them that “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was a school textbook and not a library book? Think of what Madame Pince would have done if they’d treated a library book like that!

  14. Excellent page Josie! This really is such a fun book to read, though I agree it’s surprisingly short for a textbook. In regards to the omission of some of the creatures you mentioned, I’ve a few theories. The dementor would almost certainly be considered a being, since it’s in the employ of the Ministry of Magic. The boggart doesn’t really count as a creature I guess, more like a dark entity. And the bicorn I always imagined to just be a different kind of unicorn. Which brings me to another point…

    Does anyone else find it weird that only dragons have different species listed? It seems incredible to me that the other 70+ creatures don’t. We know that there are different flying horses, but we don’t get specific information on them. And other creatures, like merpeople, unicorns, etc are bound to have variations in their kind. But again, I suppose that’s a bit much to expect from Jo.

  15. As for the length, i don’t really think we’re meant to believe it’s the entire textbook as used at Hogwarts. Rather, a sampling of what can be found in there. After all, it’s on kind of shaky ground as canon anyway – we are meant to think that despite all the laws keeping wizardkind secret, publication (with a forward by the greatest wizard of the age) was allowed to be published for muggle consumption! It really doesn’t fit the worldview of the main 7, but is just a fun for charity item. No doubt the info therein is meant to be canon, but the actual presentation of it i rather think is not. If you see what i mean. The sample book of Fantastic Beasts only exists in our world – The ‘real’ full-length and probably exhaustive test-book only exists in the world of the books.

  16. On the subject of Madam Pince and scribbled books, it would have not minded if the book was from the library or from Harry. Just remember her reaction when she saw the copy of Advanced Potion-Making scribbled by the Prince…

  17. Ah, yes. One of my favorite moments of “Half-Blood Prince”. “Despoiled! Desecrated! Befouled!”

  18. Regarding textbooks, don’t forget “The Monster Book of Monsters”! That would be an interesting book to read!

  19. Here are my comments for this book.

    1. I wonder if the Acromantula and Basilisk entries were updated.

    2. I like how six year old Bruno Schmidt killed an Erkling with his father’s cauldron when Erklings have a XXXX rating.

    3. In Deathly Hallows, Hermione says to Xeno Lovegood that there is a description of the Erumpent horn in Fantastic Beasts but when I read that entry there was no description of the Erumpent’s horn as far as I could tell.

    4. So a Fire Crab’s defense mechanism is explosive flatuence.

    5. I like the addition to the Troll entry: My name is Gregory Goyle and I smell.

  20. Fantastic!

    The artwork says it all for this book.

    And where do we find the beasts? Right here.

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