Mystery shrouds the lives of Anamagi. It's one of the reasons why Harry Potter fans are fascinated by them. The fact that so little is explained about them in the movies-- and even in the books, for that matter-- only entices fans to want to learn more. They want to know how witches and wizards gain the ability to morph into an animal at will. They want to know if turning into an animal has a deep psychological toll or is dangerous in any way. They even want to know if an individual gains the lifespan of the animal they are able to turn into. Of course, hardcore Potterheads already know the answers to these questions-- or, at least they think they do. After reading this list, you may be surprised that the life of an Animagus is far more complex.
Over the course of the Harry Potter series, we are introduced to quite a few witches and wizards who have gained the ability to become an animal. In fact, one of the very first shots of The Sorcerer's Stone is of Dame Maggie Smith's Professor McGonagall transforming from her state as a cat. But the most notable Anamagi has got to be Peter Pettigrew, AKA "Wormtail" or "Scabbers". This Voldemort supporter hid as a rat in the Weasley home for twelve long years. But what fans know about Wormtail is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more interest stories, facts, and rules surrounding the lives of an Anamagus.
Without further ado, here are 20 Crazy Things Only True Potterheads Know About Animagi.
There must be rules and regulations surrounding the lives of magical folk. After all, practically every single member of the Wizarding community has a weapon in their pocket; a wand. Not only is every wand registered, but spells are put in place to stop underaged sorcery. Additionally, some curses are illegal to use.
As for the life of an Animagus, it's not dissimilar. Although the process to become an Anamagi is tough enough to weed out certain people, every Anamagi must register themselves with the Ministry of Magic. This is in order to keep an eye on them so they don't misuse their powers. For instance, it would be very easy for a rat to infiltrate government buildings and expose top secrets.
Contrary to popular belief, a witch or wizard cannot choose the animal they turn into once they've learned to become an Animagus. After the complicated process of turning into one is completed, the reveal of their animal is a surprise.
The animal almost always reflects certain personality traits of the witch or wizard, as well as sharing some physical resemblance.
For instance, if Dumbledore was an Animagus, there's no way he'd be an Orca or a snake. If anything, he may be a wise old owl or a phoenix. The animal cannot be changed, either. If a witch or wizard isn't happy with the animal they can turn into at will, they're stuck with it. There's literally no way of changing it.
There is one major way of telling what animal one is likely to become once an Animagus. The animal form of a witch or wizard's Patronus has been known to mirror the animal of an Animagus. For instance, both Professor McGonagall's Animagus and Patronus were tabby cats. Additionally, Sirius Black's Patronus was the same as his Animagus, a black dog.
A Patronus is a pretty good tell because it takes on similar personality traits as the animal of an Animagus. However, this is not always the case. A witch or wizard could be utterly surprised to find out that their Animagus is actually a comparable, but also a contrasting animal to that of their Patronus.
There's a scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Professor McGonagall teaches her class to turn their animals into water goblets. Ron attempts to do this with his pet-rat Scabbers (AKA Wormtail in Animagus form). However, his broken wand messes up the spell and causes Scabbers to only partially turn into the water goblet. This scene is the best way to describe the difference between transfiguration and Animagi.
Animagi is a learned skill that allows a witch or wizard to turn into their animal at any given time.
They don't need a wand or incantation to do so. Transfiguration, on the other hand, does require a wand and is reversible. Animagi cannot permanently stop being an Animagi.
One of the luckiest parts of becoming an Animagi is that the witch or wizard doesn't adopt the life-span of the animal they turn into. Instead, the animal of an Animagus takes on the life-span of their human form. For instance, Wormtail's Animagus, a grey rat, has a life-span of only two-years. This is something that Sirius even remarked on in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
However, in some cases, it would be advantageous to take on the life-span of an animal. If Voldemort was able to turn into a red sea urchin, he could have lived for 200 years. Alas, those aren't the rules of this type of magic, nor would Voldemort turn into anything but a snake.
The process to become an Animagus is insanely difficult and tedious.
To start, a witch or wizard has to hold a Mandrake leaf in their mouth for an entire month.
Eventually, they take that leaf and brew a potion with it, but only when the moon is shining on it. The potion must also include the witch or wizard's hair, a silver teaspoon of dew that's not been touched for seven days, and the chrysalis of a Hawk Moth. Finally, the witch or wizard must wait for a lightning storm. As they wait for one, they have to chant a special incantation at sunrise and sunset every single day. Once the lightning storm arrives, they must point their wand at their heart, recite the incantation once more, and then drink the potion.
For the most part, an Animagus looks like any other animal. However, an Animagus may also have one or two of a witch or wizard's distinguishing features. For instance, the cat that Professor McGonagall turns into has markings around her eyes due to the spectacles that McGonagall wears in the books.
The most famous identifying mark of any Animagus in the Harry Potter series is the missing toe on Scabber's foot. This is because Wormtail cut off his own finger to leave behind when he framed Sirius and went into hiding. Although this happened well after Wormtail became an Animagus, the moment he did this to his human body, the same thing happened to his animal one.
As detailed in another entry, the process of becoming an Animagus is particularly challenging. At some stages, messing up isn't that big of a deal. For instance, the first month of the process consists of holding a Mandrake leaf in your mouth. If that leaf is swallowed or falls out, you simply must do it again. If the final potion is messed up in any way, there could be dire consequences.
The most common consequence of messing up the final potion is turning into a grotesque human-animal hybrid.
It might look like when Hermione plucked the wrong hair for her Polyjuice Potion in Chamber of Secrets. Not only would this make life particularly hard for anyone, but it's also utterly irreversible.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we learned about two of the other Wizarding schools in Europe: Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in France, and Durmstrang Institute in northern Europe. There are a total of eleven Wizarding schools across the globe. Other than Hogwarts and North America's Ilvermorny, Uagadou School of Magic is the most famous. This Wizarding school, located in Uganda, is the largest of the eleven schools as it takes in students from all over Africa.
The students at Uagadou are primarily taught transfiguration skills, as well as how to become an Animagi. In fact, all of the students at the school are required to master how to become an Animagus by the age of 14. Their reputation for this highly advanced skill is known throughout the Wizarding World.
One of the interesting advantages of being an Animagus is that a Dementor's influence isn't as influential as it is on humans. This means that the terribly depressing, cold, and generally awful feeling that the presence of a Dementor has on humans isn't as severe on an Animagus.
This advantage only applies to an Animagus who is in their animal form.
There's no change if an Animagus is hanging around as a human. The reason for this is because animals don't have as complex of an emotional range as humans do. Though they do feel some of the most significant emotions, it's simply not as laced with intricacies that are susceptible to a Dementor's monstrous presence.
Although it's impossible to permanently stop a witch or wizard from being an Animagus, there is a spell that can force them out of their animal form. Although the exact spell is never specified, Sirius and Remus used it on Scabbers in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This caused Scabbers to turn back into Peter Pettigrew and helped to convince Harry of Sirius' innocence.
J.K. Rowling doesn't give the spell a name in her books but does describe that it gives off a blue and white flash. It's possible that the spell is the Homorphus Charm, which Gilderoy Lockhart claims he used on the Wagga Wagga Werewolf in order to make him revert back to his human form.
This particular Animagi trait isn't necessarily specified within J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, however, it is implied. Although Peter Pettigrew is shown wearing his dusty, rat-like clothing when Sirius and Remus force him out of his animal-form, he chooses to abandon his clothing when becoming Scabbers again.
Pettigrew's clothing is left behind as Scabbers scurries away into the darkness during the climax of Prisoner of Azkaban.
This implies that he could will his clothing back on when returning to his human form. Presumably, he, as well as all other Animagi, can choose which clothing they come back into. Unlike, Remus Lupin's state as a werewolf, Animagi don't appear to completely lose their garments every time they transform.
The Marauders are undoubtedly the three most famous Animagi in the Harry Potter series. One of the reasons for this is their motivation for becoming Animagi in the first place. Although James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew used their powers to sneak around, the main reason they chose to become Animagi was to accompany Remus Lupin.
Lupin, the fourth member of the Mauraders, was bitten by a werewolf when he was younger. During a full moon, he would have a horrible transition into the creature. To attempt to make it easier on him, his three best-friends mastered the complicated magic by their fifth year. This allowed them to roam around with him during the full moon. James became a stag (Prongs), Sirius became a black dog (Padfoot), and Pettigrew became a rat (Wormtail).
Casual Harry Potter fans may not know that Animagi have the ability to communicate with other animals while in that form. Although the extent of the complexity of the communication is unknown, it is clear that other animals understand the needs and desires of an Animagus. For instance, a group of rats were the ones to explain to Wormtail (hiding as Scabbers) that the spirit of Lord Voldemort was residing in a forest in Albania. The ability to communicate works with different species as well.
Sirius Black, in his dog form, is able to communicate roughly with Hermione's cat, Crookshanks.
However, he wasn't able to figure out the Crookshanks's name until Hermione told him herself. This means that their communication with animals is pretty rudimentary-- or that Crookshanks doesn't know his own name.
J.K. Rowling is known for creating highly detailed histories for not only all of her characters but also every bit of magic she's threaded throughout her brilliant series. This includes a full history on Animagi. One detail has been plagued with controversy as J.K. has based it on a real-life culture, something that she's not adverse to doing.
Rowling claims that the Wizarding World in North America is somewhat intolerant of Animagi, fearing them to be demonic creatures who sacrificed their children in order to gain their powers. The term they use for them is "Skin Walkers.. This phrase is directly taken from the Navajo culture, whose representatives did not take well to the implications Rowling's writings have on them.
One of the best abilities that an Animagus gain is that they don't need to use a wand as much. However, wand-use only diminishes in one capacity; they don't need one in order to turn into their animal form. Unlike transfiguration, which always requires a wand to cast a spell, Animagi can morph into their animal forms at will.
All they need to do is feel it-- it's almost like breathing to them.
This means that they can jump into their animal form at any circumstance. This trait comes in handy when trying to avoid an attack while wandless. Also, if their wand was taken away from them, they could still use magic in this way.
It may surprise casual Harry Potter fans to learn that Miranda Richardson's Rita Skeeter is an Animagus. In the books, it's explained that she tends to turn into her beetle form whenever she needs to eavesdrop on conversations. This helps her immensely when writing her gossip pieces. Much like Professor McGonagall, Rita Skeeter's animal form has identifying markings due to the fact that she always wears glasses.
However, unlike McGonagall, Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus, which means she could be in terrible trouble if the Ministry found out. In fact, she'd be sent to Azkaban prison. Skeeter even gave up an entire year of writing just so that Hermione wouldn't turn her into the Ministry of Magic.
In the old days, Nagini used to just be Voldemort's pet snake. She had a good enough role then. In fact, she's ultimately the reason why Voldemort continued to stay alive, as her milk gave him the strength. Then the trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crime of Grindelwald came out, and it was announced that Nagini could actually turn into a human. Many fans thought that Nagini was actually an Animagi, but author J.K. Rowling claimed otherwise.
Nagini is actually a part of the Naga, mythical snake-like creatures from Indonesia.
Sometimes they snakes are depicted with wings, other times not. Why Nagini never turned into her human form during the course of the Harry Potter series is another issue entirely.
If fans were confused between Animagi, werewolves, and transfiguration, to make matters worse there's something called a Metamorphmagus which share similar traits to the others. Metamorphmagi are witches and wizards who have the ability to change their physical appearance at will. This means they can turn themselves, or portions of themselves, into animals or other people without the use of Polyjuice Potion or spells. These magical folk are also extremely rare.
The gene that carries the Meamorphmagus trait isn't common. The main Metamorphmagus in Harry Potter is Nymphadora Tonks. The difference between these two fascinating magical creatures is that to become an Animagi, one has to master a skill; to become a Metamorphmagus, one simply needs to be born with the right gene.
In Uganda, there are countless Animagi. This is because the Wizarding school there, Uagadou, has all of their students master the skill by the age of 14. However, in the United Kingdom, there are only a handful of registered Animagi. Presumably, there are a few unregistered Animagi, but even then, they are few and far between.
This is due to the complex magic needed to become one.
In the Harry Potter books, only a few Animagi (registered and unregistered alike) are even mentioned. They are James Potter, Sirius, Wormtail, Skeeter, McGonagall, Talbott Winger, and an unnamed witch who can turn into a cat. The fact that there are so few Animagi just causes us fans to want to know more about them. After all, they are some of the most unique characters in all of Harry Potter.
What do you think is the craziest fact about Animagi in Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments below!