"...serpents are often used in the worst kinds of Dark Magic, and are historically associated with evildoers."
—An anonymous member of the Dark Force Defence League, as quoted by Rita Skeeter, HARRY POTTER "DISTURBED AND DANGEROUS", Daily Prophet[src]

A snake (also called a serpent) is a long, thin, legless, carnivorous reptile. The snake is the main animal for the Slytherin House at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


Different species of snakes exist worldwide, except in the continent of Antarctica. Snakes are cold-blooded and ectothermic, meaning they must receive warmth from their environments. The vision of the snake varies widely, and are capable of using their smell to track and hunt their prey. Snakes are strictly carnivorous, and feed on a wide variety of small animals, including lizards, frogs, other snakes, small mammals, birds, fish, snails, insects and eggs, which they swallow in whole. The skin of the snake is scaled, which is frequently shed. Snakes vary in size and length, depending on the species of snake. Many species of snakes, such as Vipers and Cobras, are venomous; the effects of many snake venoms are highly poisonous, even fatal, although non-venomous snakes do exist, such as Boas and Pythons.

Snakes in the Wizarding world


The symbol of Slytherin House

The Snake is the official symbol of Slytherin House at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, relating due to the fact that the Founder of Slytherin House, Salazar Slytherin, was himself a Parselmouth, a wizard with the rare hereditary ability to communicate with snakes.[1]

Many magical species exist in the Wizarding world. The Ashwinder is a magical fire-dwelling snake that is born out of the flames of any magical fire that is left to burn unchecked. They only live for an hour and lay their eggs before collapsing into dust. The Runespoor is a three-headed snake native to Africa, with each head possessing its own evaluative function and venomous fangs, which are known to be long-lived, and their eggs are used in Potion-making.[2]

The Horned Serpent is a giant water-dwelling snake, that many species are found worldwide. They have horns on their heads, in particular the North American variety, with jewels that grant the powers of invisibility and flight, and shavings of their horns can be used as wand cores. They are intelligent creatures with fierce eyes, who emit a low musical note whenever they sense danger.[2] The Horned Serpent is the House mascot and symbol of the House of the same name at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as one of its founders, Isolt Sayre, had a close relationship with a Horned Serpent whilst exploring the United States of America.[3]

The Sea Serpent is an aquatic creature found in several seas worldwide, including the Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean. It reaches over a hundred feet long with a horse-like head and serpentine body; it is seen as a fearsome creature by many, although they do not harm humans, apart from the flesh-eating Selma.[2]

The most feared however is the Basilisk, a monstrous gigantic serpent known as the "King of Serpents", and the mortal enemy of spiders. It is an incredibly powerful beast of dark magic, whose stare is capable of causing death upon any living being who comes into direct visual contact with, or petrification through indirect visual contact. It is illegally bred by Dark Wizards, through the hatching of Chicken eggs beneath toads.[2][4]

Apart from the Basilisk, snakes on the whole are often associated with the Dark Arts, a sentiment which is both true and untrue. Many Dark Wizards, such as Herpo the Foul, Salazar Slytherin and Tom Riddle, were all Parselmouths, wizards with the ability to communicate with snakes. Riddle himself, better known as Lord Voldemort, also owned a female pet snake called Nagini, who also served as one of his Horcruxes, as well as having his symbol the Dark Mark, as the ghoulish image of a terrifying snake coming out of the mouth of a skull.[5]

The Snake Summons Spell (Serpensortia) is a transfiguration spell which is used to conjure snakes out of thin air. Its counter-spell is the Snake-Vanishing Spell (Vipera Evanesca), which is used to vanish the conjured snake in a puff of thick black smoke.[1]

The skin of the Boomslang, a highly venomous green snake, is one of the ingredients used in the brewing of Polyjuice Potion.[6] Snake fangs are also a common potion ingredient, such as in the Cure for Boils, Wideye Potion[3] and the Strength Potion.[7][8]

Snakes are easier to conjure from nothing than any other animal, apart from birds.[9]

Furthermore, the curse Fiendfyre, is capable of conjuring cursed and immensely destructive and dangerous flames of enormous size which can manifest in the shapes of fiery serpents, along with other beasts such as dragons and Chimaeras.[10]


Nagini transforms

Nagini turning into her snake form

During Gellert Grindelwald's notorious escape from MACUSA after six months of imprisonment, he transfigured the reins of the carriage carrying him into two ashwinders that attacked one of the two Aurors steering the carriage towards Europe.

In 1927, the magical Circus Arcanus had Nagini, a Maledictus cursed to transform into a snake, as one of their main and most coveted attractions.[11]

During the 1988–1989 school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the then Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor Patricia Rakepick, taught her fifth year DADA students how to perform the Snake-Vanishing Spell, mostly to help them deal with and defend themselves against dangerous and venomous species of snakes.[12]


The Boa Constrictor speaking to Harry

In June 1991 during a trip to a zoo in Surrey, Harry Potter accidentally set loose a male Boa constrictor on his cousin Dudley Dursley using Parseltongue.[13]


Draco Malfoy casting (Serpensortia)

In 1992, during the first and last meeting of the Hogwarts Duelling Club led by Gilderoy Lockhart and Severus Snape, Draco Malfoy used the Snake Summons Spell to conjure a snake out of thin air whilst duelling Harry Potter. After Lockhart foolishly provoked it, the snake became aggressive and turned on the other students watching, forcing Harry Potter to speak to the snake in Parseltongue unwillingly, much to the shock of everyone watching and himself, which was the first time he became aware of his rare and strange ability. The snake was subsequently vanished by Snape with Snake-Vanishing Spell in a puff of black smoke.[1]

Basilisk trying to eat Harry Potter

Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets

During the 1992–1993 school year, the Chamber of Secrets was reopened, unleashing the Serpent of Slytherin, the Basilisk which previously belonged to Salazar Slytherin, upon the Muggle-born students of Hogwarts, which resulted in many Hogwarts residents being petrified.[14][15][1][4] After the petrification of Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley (along unwillingly with Gilderoy Lockhart) into the Chamber of Secrets to stop the attacks.[4] After Ron and Lockhart got separated, Harry ventured into the Chamber, where he met the disembodied soul of Tom Riddle, who revealed himself as Lord Voldemort and commanded the Basilisk to kill Harry. Harry managed to slay the evil beast using the Sword of Gryffindor and then used the basilisk's fang imbued with its venom to destroy Tom Riddle's diary, one of his Horcruxes.[16]

The notorious Dark Wizard Tom Riddle, better known as Lord Voldemort, had a female pet snake called Nagini as one of his most faithful and bloodthirsty servants, who was once a harmless Maledictus.[11] Riddle acquired Nagini at an unknown point, although she played a huge and pivotal role in his return to power and his mission throughout the Second Wizarding War. In 1994, she was present during Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew's meeting in the Riddle House,[17] and on the 24 June 1995, the day Voldemort returned in the Little Hangleton graveyard, Nagini was slithering around the graveyard,[18] and was offered the chance of eating Harry Potter's flesh by her master once he had killed him, although Harry escaped.[19]

In December 1995, Nagini attacked and severely wounded the British Ministry of Magic employee Arthur Weasley whilst he patrolling the Department of Mysteries on the night-shift.[20] In the spectacular duel in the Ministry Atrium at the climax of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Voldemort turned to a snake the fiery rope that Dumbledore had attacked Voldemort with, serving as both an attack against the Headmaster as well as a distraction so that he can disapparate and apparate behind the Headmaster and attack him with the Killing Curse.

Nagini eats Charity Burbage

Nagini in the Malfoy Manor

In late July 1997, Nagini was present with her master and his Death Eaters at the Meeting at Malfoy Manor, where she devoured the corpse of Charity Burbage after Voldemort had murdered her there.[21] In December of that year, she also attacked Harry Potter and Hermione Granger at Godric's Hollow, after she possessed the corpse of Bathilda Bagshot after having killed her along with her master.[22] During the Battle of Hogwarts on 2 May 1998, she killed Severus Snape on her masters orders,[23] but was later slain that battle, by Neville Longbottom with the Sword of Gryffindor.[24]

During the Calamity which affected the Wizarding world in the 2010s, several large red snake Confoundables appeared guarding baby Unicorn Foundables. Volunteer members of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force had to repel these monstrous serpents using the Exploding Charm, which would stun the snake and allow the baby Unicorn Foundables to return to their rightful place in the wizarding world.[25]


Main article: Parseltongue
Speaking Parseltongue

Harry speaking Parseltongue to a Boa Constrictor

Parseltongue snake

Harry speaking Parseltongue

Snakes all over the world speak a language called Parseltongue (with apparent regional variations, as a Brazilian snake once used a term rendered in English as "amigo").[13] To those who do not speak it, Parseltongue mostly sounds like barely-audible hissing, easily dismissed as ambient noise by one who was unaware of a snake's presence.[1]

It is possible, though arduous, for humans (and, presumably, other Beings) to learn this language; noted wizarding genius and scholar Professor Albus Dumbledore learned to understand it, but never managed to speak it, while a young Ron Weasley managed to speak a few words but never made an effort to expand his vocabulary.[10]

A small percentage of wizards possess an innate knowledge of this eldritch tongue, and are called Parselmouths[26]; this ability was long associated with Dark Wizards in the Wizarding world's eye, as three of the most notorious Dark Wizards of all times, Lord Voldemort, Salazar Slytherin and Herpo the Foul, were Parselmouths. Other Parselmouths include Corvinus Gaunt, Marvolo Gaunt, Morfin Gaunt, Merope Gaunt, Delphini, and due to soul contamination from Voldemort's Horcruxes, Harry Potter

Species of snake

Notable snakes

Behind the scenes

  • The ability of even mundane snakes to communicate with Parselmouths and hold meaningful conversations with them implies that even non-magical snakes are notably more intelligent in the Harry Potter universe compared to the real world.
  • Snakes are an enemy in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 and also an ingredient for the Ageing Potion.[7][8]
  • Some snakes in the magical world seem to be different species undiscovered in the Muggle parts of the world. Nagini's form once turned into a snake, for example, was as large as a Boa Constrictor, but her venom suggests that she was more akin to a supersized viper (though a prehistoric viper-like serpent of this size did exist in the Muggle world). And the Basilisk was obviously no common serpent (though it may be a mutated, magical version of the ancient 50-foot serpent).


The Harry Potter Wiki has 72 images related to Snake.
Screenshot 1118

Draco Malfoy's conjured snake as shown in the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (console versions only)

Malfoy snake

A snake in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pottermore
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 9 (The Dark Mark)
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)
  7. 7.0 7.1 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  8. 8.0 8.1 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
  9. See this video.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
  12. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 22 (Agent of Chaos) - Defence Against the Dark Arts Lesson "Vipera Evanesca"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2 (The Vanishing Glass)
  14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)
  16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  17. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
  18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
  20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 19 (The Lion and the Serpent)
  21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1 (The Dark Lord Ascending)
  22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 17 (Bathilda's Secret)
  23. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32 (The Elder Wand)
  24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
  25. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
  26. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)

Defence Against the Dark Arts (D.A.D.A.)
D.A.D.A. at Hogwarts
Classroom 3C · Classroom 3C backrooms · Temporary Classroom · Hogwarts Turris Magnus · Teacher's Office · Storeroom · Staircase · Lesson Cup · Race Cup · Dumbledore's Army
Arsenius Jigger · Albus Dumbledore · Galatea Merrythought · Patricia Rakepick · Quirinus Quirrell · Gilderoy Lockhart · Remus Lupin · Bartemius Crouch Junior (as Alastor Moody) · Dolores Umbridge · Severus Snape · Amycus Carrow (as Dark Arts teacher)
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection · Break with a Banshee · Gadding with Ghouls · Holidays with Hags · Travels with Trolls · Voyages with Vampires · Wanderings with Werewolves · Year with the Yeti · The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts · Defensive Magical Theory · Dark Arts Defence – Basics for Beginners · Confronting the Faceless
Spells studied at Hogwarts under D.A.D.A.
Aqua Eructo Charm · Boggart-Banishing Spell · Cave inimicum · Counter-curses · Counter-jinxes · Counter-spells · Cruciatus Curse · Curse of the Bogies · Defensive Charms · Densaugeo · Deprimo · Disarming Charm · Ear-Shrivelling Curse · Everte Statum · Freezing Spell · Full Body-Bind Curse · Fumos Duo · Green Sparks · Hex-Breaker· Hex-deflection · Hex Zapper · Homorphus Charm · Human-presence-revealing Spell · Impediment Jinx · Imperius Curse · Imperturbable Charm · Killing Curse · Knockback Jinx · Lacarnum Inflamari · Langlock · Nonverbal spells · Patronus Charm · Red Sparks · Reductor Curse · Salvio hexia · Sea Urchin Jinx · Seize and Pull Charm · Shield Charm · Smokescreen Spell · Snake-Vanishing Spell · Tickling Charm · Tongue-Tying Curse · Trip Jinx · Verdimillious Charm · Verdimillious Duo Spell · Verdimillious Tria · Vermillious Duo · Vermillious Tria · Wand-Lighting Charm
Creatures studied at Hogwarts under D.A.D.A.
Banshee · Boggart · Cornish Pixie · Dementor · Erkling · Flesh-Eating Slug · Ghost · Ghoul · Grindylow · Gytrash · Hag · Hinkypunk · Iguana · Imp · Inferius · Kappa · Nocturnal beasts · Red Cap · Snake · Troll · Vampire · Vampire bat · Werewolf · Yeti · Zombie
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