Throughout his years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter faced many dangerous creatures and formidable foes. Even after he bailed on school, he couldn't avoid returning to throw down with his enemies. But one of the scariest and most dangerous magical creatures that he encountered was one of his earliest challenges at Hogwarts: the mighty and scary-as-heck Basilisk.
The Basilisk that Harry ultimately had to face was merely a tool in Voldemort's tool belt, but a Basilisk is a wildly dangerous and fierce challenge even on the best of days. Most people who have seen or read Harry Potter will have a basic understanding of what the Basilisk is and what it can do, but there is a lot more to this beast than meets the eye. Pun intended. So, here are a few interesting details about the Basilisks of the Harry Potter world that most fans probably missed.
10 Basilisks Were A Wizard Invention
Many of the magical creatures that we see in the world of Harry Potter are animals that came about naturally, or at least without any intervention on the part of wizards. That is not the case when it comes to Basilisks.
Basilisks were engineered by dark wizards, and the first recorded instance of a dark wizard creating a Basilisk goes all the way back to Ancient Greece. A wizard by the name of Herpo the Foul is the first wizard known to have created a Basilisk (after a lot of trial and error), and dark wizards have been conjuring up Basilisks ever since.
9 Breeding Them Was Banned
Understandably so, we're sure you'll agree. Basilisks were first recorded as being created in Ancient Greece and wizards have been clandestinely creating them in the intervening years, but the breeding and ownership of Basilisks was outlawed as early as the Medieval European period.
Unsurprisingly, the legal ban did little to prevent the creation of Basilisks, and even though hiding a snake the size of a freight train isn't exactly the easiest task, it is astoundingly easy to keep the breeding of Basilisks a secret. However, as all Harry Potter fans know, hiding a Basilisk for a long period of time is easy if you simply know where to put it.
8 They Way They're Made Is Really Weird
It's unclear what exactly inspired Herpo the Foul to invent this bizarre bit of dark magic (aside from the fact that a giant snake would be a pretty cool thing to have at your beck and call), but it actually took a significant amount of magical experimentation before Herpo perfected the methodology for creating a Basilisk.
The technique for hatching Basilisks is simple, but strange. A wizard must take a chicken egg and hatch it beneath a toad, and boom: a Basilisk pops out instead. The simplicity of Basilisk breeding has actually made it difficult for the ban to be effectively carried, out though.
7 They're Too Powerful To Be Truly Controlled
The magical world has outlawed the breeding and ownership of Basilisks for centuries now, but that ban hasn't done much to curtail it. The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures does investigate all chicken coops belonging to wizards, but anyone who is secretly trying to hatch a Basilisk can just move the toad and make it look like a typical chickens egg.
However, the breeding of Basilisks does have a kind of natural way of controlling itself. After all, it's astoundingly easy for any witch or wizard to create a Basilisk, but it's nearly impossible for most of them to actually control them.
6 But Parselmouths Have An Obvious Advantage
The vast majority of wizards would never even attempt to breed their own Basilisk, because while they all have the capabilities to do so, it would ultimately only result in them having a giant snake that they can't control. Not a fun situation for anyone. There is a really significant and obvious exception, however: Parselmouths.
The original creator of the Basilisk was a Parselmouth, and although Parselmouths can't completely control their Basilisks, they clearly have an enormous advantage. Although most Parselmouths would probably abide by the ban, it's also understandable why some of them would be tempted by the idea of possessing a monstrous beast that only they can communicate with.
5 Spiders Fear Them
Well, anything and everything with an ounce of common sense probably fears Basilisks, but spiders especially so. It's unclear exactly what has caused the enormous rivalry between Basilisks and spiders, but it may have something to do with the deadly gaze of a Basilisk. Anything that catches a glimpse of a Basilisk's eyes at best winds up petrified, and at worst ends up dead.
So, if you're something like a spider (creatures whose vision covers nearly 360 degrees and whose eyes have no lids), being within the eye line of a Basilisk will mean almost guaranteed, instant death. Their aversion to Basilisks can come in handy, though, as they can sense when Basilisks are near and know to flee. So, if all of the spiders are suddenly bailing, then the people around know they should be fleeing too.
4 They're The King Of Snakes
This should surprise no-one, but the Basilisk is considered to be the King of the Snakes. Of course, they'd kind of have to be. When even the biggest snake in the world is still dwarfed by the Basilisk, then it's to be expected that Basilisks would be occupying the top spot in the snake chain of command.
However, that's also what the word Basilisk quite literally means. The word Basilisk comes from the Greek word basiliskos, which translates to "little king." The "little" part of "little king" is a kind of confounding addition to the mythology, but the "king" part is pretty easy to understand.
3 Moaning Myrtle Was Killed By The Basilisk
Myrtle Warren, better known as Moaning Myrtle, certainly earned her Hogwarts nickname, considering her constant complaints towards the still-living Hogwarts students in the time since her death. Maybe people could have cut her a break, though. She was just an average Hogwarts student chilling in the bathroom, when all of a sudden a rogue ancient Basilisk appeared. She looked at it, and it killed her.
Myrtle herself didn't even realize that she had been killed by the Basilisk, but if anyone had bothered to ask her about the strange circumstances of her death in the fifty-odd years she'd spent haunting Hogwarts, they may not have been quite so shocked about what occupied the Chamber of Secrets.
2 They Can Live For A Thousand Years
One of the more terrifying aspects of a Basilisk is their astoundingly long life span. Another reason why most sane wizards would reconsider breeding a Basilisk is that, even in the unlikely scenario that they're a Parselmouth who can somewhat control the basilisk, it's a near-guarantee that said Basilisk will live for around ten times as long as the wizard that created it.
The average lifespan of a Basilisk is supposed to be approximately nine hundred years, but the Basilisk bred by Salazar Slytherin that was hidden in the Chamber of Secrets had lived for around one thousand years at the time of its battle with Harry Potter.
1 It's The Eyes That Get You
The mythology behind the powers of a Basilisk in the Harry Potter world shares a lot of striking similarities of the mythology behind Medusa, the Greek Gorgon who would turn anyone who looked upon her face to stone. When it comes to a Basilisk, though, it's really the eyes that are doing all the damage.
If a living person looks indirectly at the eyes of a Basilisk (in a reflection or through a camera lens), it will petrify them. But if someone looks directly into their eyes, as Moaning Myrtle did, then they'll instantly be killed.