We begin our roundup of the weirdest fantastic beasts with the Ashwinder: a thin, pale grey serpent with red glowing eyes. The red glowing eyes are kind of a standard for the wizarding world, but the creation of an Ashwinder gets pretty weird. When a magical fire is allowed to burn unchecked for too long, the serpent rises from the embers and then slithers away, leaving an ashy trail behind it.
For those who don’t like snakes, you may be relieved to hear that the Ashwinder lives for only an hour, after which it collapses into dust. The bad news is that during that time it lays eggs – usually in a dark, secluded spot (like a house!) – that give off intense heat and could ignite a dwelling within minutes. Oh dear…
The Diricawl is a plump-bodied, fluffy-feathered, flightless bird – sound familiar? Well, you’d be absolutely right. Muggles were once fully aware of the existence of the Diricawl, but they knew it by another name: the dodo. It turns out, the Diricawl is remarkable for its methods of escaping danger; it can vanish in a puff of feathers and reappear elsewhere (the phoenix shares this ability). Obviously unaware that the Diricawl could vanish at will, Muggles believe they have hunted the species to extinction.
The weirdness of the Clabbert is all about its appearance. A cross between a monkey and a frog, the Clabbert has mottled green, smooth and hairless skin with webbed hands and feet, as well as long arms and legs that allow it to swing between branches. But that is all quite normal compared to what it has on its head. The Clabbert’s most distinctive feature is the large pustule in the middle of its forehead, which turns scarlet and flashes when it senses danger. According to Newt Scamander, American wizards once kept Clabberts in their gardens to give them early warning of Muggles. However, trees full of glowing Clabbert pustules attracted too many Muggles asking why their neighbours still had their Christmas lights up in June. Well, it’s unlucky to keep your decorations up – maybe those Muggles were just trying to help?
If witches and wizards start asking each other, ‘what’s that awful smell?’, the answer may well be a Bundimun. The presence of this creature is usually announced by a foul stench of decay. Skilled at creeping under floorboards and behind skirting boards, they infect houses, oozing a secretion which rots away the very foundations of the dwelling in which it is found. This might be odd, but it looks even weirder. At rest, the Bundimun resembles a patch of greenish fungus with eyes, though when alarmed it will scuttle away on its numerous spindly legs. It feeds on dirt. Delightful. Poor Bundimun – we bet it doesn’t have many friends.
The Augurey doesn’t sound too strange… at first. It’s a thin and mournful-looking bird, somewhat like a small and underfed vulture, and greenish-black in colour. It is intensely shy and flies only in heavy rain (okay – a bit odd), but otherwise it remains hidden in its tear-shaped nest. Things get weirder when you learn about its distinctive low and throbbing cry, which was once believed to foretell death. Patient research revealed, however, that the Augurey merely sings at the approach of rain. One more quirk: Augurey feathers are useless as quills because they repel ink. Huh.
The Jobberknoll is a tiny blue speckled bird which eats small insects. So far, so Muggle. However, 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 – what a way to go! The feather in the Jobberknoll’s cap is that it’s, well… feathers, are used in Truth Serums and Memory Potions.
The Kappa inhabits shallow ponds and rivers. It is often said to look like a monkey with fish scales instead of fur with a hollow in the top of its head, in which it carries water. The Kappa feeds on human blood (eeesh!) but apparently may be persuaded not to harm a person if it is thrown a cucumber with that person’s name carved into it. Yes, that’s right – a cucumber will save a witch or wizard from a Kappa that wants to drink their blood. Well, this is an article about the wizarding world’s weirdest beasts – what did you expect?
Also known as ‘Living Shroud’, the Lethifold resembles a black cloak perhaps half an inch thick; thicker if it has recently killed and digested a victim (stop reading now if you’re easily scared!). It glides along the ground at night, like a rustling shadow, and generally attacks the sleeping – though its victims rarely have a chance to use any magic against it. Once its prey has been successfully suffocated, the Lethifold digests its food there and then in their bed. It then exits the house slightly thicker and fatter than before, leaving no trace of itself or its victim behind. Is it just us, or have you got the shivers?
After all that talk of Lethifolds, this one will cheer you up! The Streeler is a giant snail that changes colour on an hourly basis. As a result, it has been kept as a pet by those who enjoy its kaleidoscopic colour changes. Slight downside to this rainbow show: Streelers leave a trail so venomous that it shrivels and burns all vegetation over which it passes. Aunt Petunia certainly wouldn’t want those in her perfectly manicured garden!