The Diricawl – a ‘plump-bodied, fluffy-feathered, flightless bird’ from Mauritius, is a species we Muggles were once familiar with. In fact, we knew it by the name ‘dodo’ before we drove the species to extinction.
But the dodo, according to this textbook, is not quite dead. Apparently the Muggle world overlooked the Diricawl’s ability to disappear at will, thinking the birds had vanished altogether. The wizarding world knew differently of course, but they’ve no plans to correct us any time soon – as the disappearance of the ‘dodo’ alerted us to the need to protect other species.
They may be rumoured to provide the key ingredient for Fizzing Whizzbees, but there is a dark side to Billywig stings. Young witches and wizards have been known to deliberately provoke the insects into stinging so they can experience giddiness and levitation (certainly better than the pain of a wasp or bee sting!). The danger is that, in the case of severe allergic reaction, ‘permanent floating may ensue’.
So how does that work, exactly? Are you forced to spend the rest of your life bumping off walls and ceilings like an old PC screensaver? Or do you just float off into the sky never to be seen again, like a child’s lost balloon? Neither option sounds great.
Though their preferred snack is any magical substance found around the house (potion leftovers or wand cores, for example), these tiny crab-like creatures are also known to invade electrical goods. Apparently, our Muggle gadgets are the next best thing on the menu.
Giving new meaning to the phrase ‘bugs in the system’, Chizpurfle activity accounts for many of those so-called manufacturing flaws that cause seemingly brand-new products to fail the first time they’re plugged in. Thankfully, they shouldn’t affect the warranty.
According to Newt’s footnotes, Uric the Oddball lived up to his title. Uric’s research into the health benefits of Fwooper song didn’t earn him much credibility, not after he turned up to report his findings ‘wearing nothing but a toupee that on closer inspection proved to be a dead badger’. It turns out that three months of exposure to the bird’s singing can turn people slightly mad.
Then there was the Augurey incident. After waking up in a room with 50 of the wailing birds, Uric naturally thought he’d died and become a ghost. He bought himself a ten-day concussion after attempting to walk through a wall. As you do.
The Mooncalf sounds like a strange looking creature indeed with its flat feet, spindly legs and bulgy eyes. But its appearance might be the least weird thing about it. By the light of the full moon, they come out of their burrows to perform ‘complicated’ dances that leave geometric patterns in wheat fields. So that’s where those come from.
But that’s not all they leave behind. Mooncalves produce a silvery dung which is said to be an excellent fertiliser for magical plants. We’re sure Professor Sprout must have had a stash down at the Greenhouses.
Much like unicorns, fairies have managed to get a good deal from the Muggle press over the years. However, their abilities and intelligence have been greatly exaggerated. While we might picture them granting wishes, conversing with humans and waving tiny wands, fairies aren’t capable of most of their storybook antics. They are, to put it bluntly, a bit thick.
Fairies are also terribly vain, which makes them ideal for decorative purposes. Just bung ’em on a Christmas tree and they’ll be happy.
It makes no sound until the moment of its death, at which point it lets out a long scream made up of every sound it has ever heard, regurgitated backwards.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Let’s just think about that for a moment… Merlin’s beard, that’s some way to go! Plus, it raises so many questions. Why does it do it? What on earth does that sound like? How long do the nightmares last after hearing it? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Imagine you’re hanging around near a body of water in Japan. Suddenly you’re attacked by a bloodthirsty, monkey-shaped demon covered in scales. What do you do? Well, you carve your name on a cucumber and lob it over to them, obviously.
We’re not sure what was going through the head of the person who made this discovery, but there’s another, non-vegetable-related, approach to dealing with Kappas. Simply trick it into bowing so that the water in the hollow in its head spills out, rendering it powerless. Perfect, if you forgot to pack your emergency cucumber that morning.
Just in case you were wondering.
Learn more about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and all the other Hogwarts library books, here.