"...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
A snake (also called a serpent) is a long, thin, legless reptile. The symbol of Slytherin house is the serpent, and the dark wizard Lord Voldemort had a pet snake named Nagini. There are many types of snakes in the magical world, but the biggest and most dangerous of them all is the Basilisk also known as the King of Serpents. The spell Serpensortia creates a snake from the caster’s wand, while the spell Vipera Evanesca gets rid of it.[1] The spell for Fiendfyre creates fiery serpents and dragons. The skin of boomslang, a species of a snake,is an ingredient of Polyjuice Potion.[1] Voldemort's mark, the Dark Mark, is a skull with a snake coming out of its mouth.[2] In 1991 during a trip to a zoo, Harry Potter accidentally set loose a Boa constrictor on his cousin Dudley Dursley.[3] In 1995, Harry Potter witnessed, in dream, the snake Nagini's attack on Arthur Weasley.[4]


Main article: 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"). 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.

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.

A small percentage of wizards possess an innate knowledge of this eldritch tongue, and are called Parselmouths[5]; this ability was long associated with Dark Wizards in the Wizarding World's eye, as two of the most notorious Dark Wizards of all times, Lord Voldemort and Professor Salazar Slytherin, were Parselmouths. Other Parselmouths include Salazar Slytherin, Marvolo Gaunt, Morfin Gaunt, Merope Gaunt, Lord Voldemort, and (due to contamination from Voldemort's Horcruxes) Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley.

Species of snake


A basilisk, the King of Serpents

Notable snakes


Nagini, Voldemort's snake

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 easier to conjure from nothing than any other animal, apart from birds.[6]
    Screenshot 1118

    Snake Malfoy

  • 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.
  • One of the forms that the Fiendfyre took was a snake.[7][8][9]
  • Snakes are usually attributed to the Dark Arts simply due to them being affiliated with Dark Wizards such as Salazar Slytherin, Herpo the Foul and Lord Voldemort.
  • 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).


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Notes and references