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Harry Potter Wiki

"...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)[1] is a long, thin, legless, carnivorous reptile.[8] The snake was the main animal for the Slytherin House at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[9][1]

Snakes in the wizarding world[]


The symbol of Slytherin House

The snake was 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 of snake existed in the wizarding world. The Ashwinder was a magical fire-dwelling snake that was born out of the flames of any magical fire that was left to burn unchecked. They only lived for an hour and laid their eggs before collapsing into dust. The Runespoor was a three-headed snake native to Africa, with each head possessing its own evaluative function and venomous fangs, which were known to be long-lived, and their eggs were used in Potion-making.[10]

The Horned Serpent was a giant water-dwelling snake, that many species were found worldwide. They had horns on their heads, in particular the North American variety, with jewels that granted the powers of invisibility and flight, and shavings of their horns could be used as wand cores. They were intelligent creatures with fierce eyes, who emitted a low musical note whenever they sensed danger.[10] The Horned Serpent was 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.[11]

The sea serpent was an aquatic beast found in several seas worldwide, including the Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean. It reached over a hundred feet long with a horse-like head and serpentine body; it was seen as a fearsome creature by many, although they did not harm humans, apart from the flesh-eating Selma.[10]

The most feared of these snakes however was the Basilisk, a monstrous gigantic serpent known as the "King of Serpents", and the mortal enemy of spiders. It was an incredibly powerful beast of dark magic, whose stare was capable of causing death upon any living being who came into direct visual contact with, or petrification through indirect visual contact. It was illegally bred by Dark wizards, through the hatching of Chicken eggs beneath toads.[10][12]

Apart from the Basilisk, snakes on the whole were often associated with the Dark Arts,[7] a sentiment which was both true and untrue. Many Dark wizards, such as Herpo the Foul,[10] Salazar Slytherin and Tom Riddle, were all Parselmouths, wizards with the ability to communicate with snakes.[1] 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.[13]

The Snake Summons Spell (Serpensortia) was a transfiguration spell which was used to conjure snakes out of thin air.[1][14] Its counter-spell was the Snake-Vanishing Spell (Vipera Evanesca), which was used to vanish the conjured snake in a puff of thick black smoke.[1][15]

The skin of the Boomslang, a highly venomous green snake, was one of the ingredients used in the brewing of Polyjuice Potion.[16] Snake fangs were also a common potion ingredient, such as in the Cure for Boils, Wideye Potion[17] and the Strength Potion.[18][19] An unidentified orange snake was used as one of the ingredients in the Ageing Potion.[18]

Snakes were easier to conjure from nothing than any other animal, apart from birds.[20]

Furthermore, the curse Fiendfyre was capable of conjuring cursed and immensely destructive and dangerous flames of enormous size which could manifest in the shapes of fiery serpents, along with other beasts such as dragons and Chimaeras.[21]


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.[22]

Around the 1920s, members of the pure-blood House of Gaunt were known parselmouths. Morfin Gaunt nailed a dead snake to the door of the Gaunt Shack, and kept a second snake as well.[2]

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.[22]

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.[15]


The boa constrictor speaking to Harry

On 23 June 1991, during a trip to a zoo in Surrey, Harry Potter accidentally set loose a male boa constrictor on his cousin Dudley Dursley when using Parseltongue to speak to it and accidentally vanishing the glass with magic.[3]


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.[5][16][1][12] 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.[12] 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.[23]

The notorious Dark wizard Tom Riddle, better known as Lord Voldemort, had Nagini, the Maledictus from the carnival, as a pet and one of his most faithful servants, also serving as a Horcrux.[22] 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,[24] and on the 24 June 1995, the day Voldemort returned in the Little Hangleton graveyard, Nagini was slithering around the graveyard,[25] and was offered the chance of eating Harry Potter's flesh by her master once he had killed him,[26] although Harry escaped.

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.[27] 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 could Disapparate and Apparate behind the Headmaster and attack him with the Killing Curse.[28]

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.[4]

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.[29] During the Battle of Hogwarts on 2 May 1998, she killed Severus Snape on her masters orders,[30] but was later slain that battle, by Neville Longbottom with the Sword of Gryffindor.[31]

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 Bombardment Spell, which would stun the snake and allow the baby Unicorn Foundables to return to their rightful place in the wizarding world.[32]


Main article: Parseltongue
Ron Weasley: "You're a Parselmouth. Why didn't you tell us?"
Harry Potter: "I'm a what?"
Ron Weasley: "A Parselmouth! You can talk to snakes!"
Harry Potter: "I know. I mean, that's only the second time I've ever done it. I accidentally set a boa constrictor on my cousin Dudley at the zoo once — long story — but it was telling me it had never seen Brazil and I sort of set it free without meaning to — that was before I knew I was a wizard —"
— A discussion about Parseltongue[src]
Speaking Parseltongue

Harry speaking Parseltongue to a Boa Constrictor

Snakes all over the world spoke a language called Parseltongue (with apparent regional variations, as a Brazilian snake once used a term rendered in English as "amigo").[3] To those who did not speak it, Parseltongue mostly sounded like barely-audible hissing, easily dismissed as ambient noise by one who was unaware of a snake's presence.[1]

It was 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.[21]

A small percentage of wizards possessed an innate knowledge of this eldritch tongue, and were called Parselmouths;[1] 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[1] and Herpo the Foul,[10] were Parselmouths. Other Parselmouths included Corvinus Gaunt,[33] Marvolo Gaunt, Morfin Gaunt, Merope Gaunt,[2] Delphini,[34] and due to soul contamination from Voldemort's Horcruxes, Harry Potter.[1][35]

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.[18][19]
  • 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 163 images related to Snake.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2 (The Vanishing Glass)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1 (The Dark Lord Ascending)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  6. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" at Wizarding World
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 31 (The Third Task)
  8. WP favicon Snake on Wikipedia
  9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 3 (The Letters from No One)
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  11. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" at Wizarding World
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
  13. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 9 (The Dark Mark)
  14. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 4, Chapter 12 (Working with Snape) - Transfiguration Lesson "Serpensortia"
  15. 15.0 15.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 22 (Agent of Chaos) - Defence Against the Dark Arts Lesson "Vipera Evanesca"
  16. 16.0 16.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 Pottermore
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  19. 19.0 19.1 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
  20. Wonderbook: Book of Spells - see this video.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
  23. 23.0 23.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)
  24. 24.0 24.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 1 (The Riddle House)
  25. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  26. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
  27. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 21 (The Eye of the Snake)
  28. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)
  29. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 17 (Bathilda's Secret)
  30. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32 (The Elder Wand)
  31. 31.0 31.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
  32. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
  33. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Chamber of Secrets" at Wizarding World
  34. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  35. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  36. Harry Potter Trading Card Game
  37. Wonderbook: Book of Potions
  38. Wonderbook: Book of Spells
  39. Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
  40. J. K. Rowling's official site
  41. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 7 (The Boggart in the Wardrobe)
  42. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
  43. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  44. The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
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 · Storage room · Lesson Cup · Race Cup · Duelling Club · Dumbledore's Army
Isidora Morganach · Dinah Hecat · Arsenius Jigger · Albus Dumbledore · Galatea Merrythought · 1984–1985 professor · 1985–1986 professor · 1986–1987 professor · 1987–1988 professor · Patricia Rakepick · 1989–1990 professor · First 1990–1991 professor · Olivia Green · Quirinus Quirrell · Gilderoy Lockhart · Remus Lupin · Bartemius Crouch Junior (as Alastor Moody) · Dolores Umbridge · Severus Snape · Amycus Carrow (as Dark Arts teacher) · Unidentified professor · Brindlemore
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection · Advanced Defence Against the Dark Arts · 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 · Defence Against the Dark Arts
Spells studied at Hogwarts under D.A.D.A.
Aqua Eructo · Boggart-Banishing Spell (Riddikulus) · Bombarda Maxima · Cave inimicum · Concealment Charms · Counter-curses · Counter-jinxes · Cruciatus Curse (Crucio) · Curse of the Bogies (Mucus ad Nauseam) · Cursed barrier spell · Densaugeo · Deprimo Spell (Deprimo) · Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus) · Ear-Shrivelling Curse · Everte Statum · Freezing Spell (Glacius) · Full Body-Bind Curse (Petrificus Totalus) · Fumos Duo · Green Sparks · Hex-Breaker· Hex-deflection · Hex Zapper · Homorphus Charm · Human-presence-revealing Spell (Homenum Revelio) · Impediment Jinx (Impedimenta) · Imperius Curse (Imperio) · Imperturbable Charm · Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra) · Knockback Jinx (Flipendo) · Lacarnum Inflamari · Langlock · Levitation Spell (Levioso) · Limbo Mist anticharm · Nonverbal spells · Patronus Charm (Expecto Patronum) · Pimple Jinx (Furnunculus) · Protective enchantments · Red Sparks (Vermillious) · Reductor Curse (Reducto) · Salvio hexia · Sea Urchin Jinx · Seize and pull charm (Carpe Retractum) · Shield Charm (Protego) · Smokescreen Spell (Fumos) · Snake-Vanishing Spell (Vipera Evanesca) · Softening Charm (Spongify) · Stretching Jinx · Tickling Charm (Rictusempra) · Tongue-Tying Curse (Mimblewimble) · Trip Jinx · Twitchy-Ears Hex · Verdimillious Charm (Verdimillious) · Verdimillious Duo Spell (Verdimillious) · Verdimillious Tria · Vermillious Duo · Vermillious Tria · Wand-Lighting Charm (Lumos)
Creatures studied at Hogwarts under D.A.D.A.
Banshee · Boggart · Chameleon Ghoul · Charmed skeleton · Cornish Pixie · Dementor · Dugbog · Erkling · Flesh-Eating Slug · Ghost · Ghoul · Gnome · Grindylow · Gytrash · Hag · Hinkypunk · Iguana · Imp · Inferius · Kappa · Manticore · Nocturnal beasts · Nogtail · Poltergeist · Red Cap · Snake · Troll · Vampire · Vampire bat · Werewolf · Yeti · Zombie