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Just as the title says, what kind of snake is Nagini? Note: Nagini is not the boa constrictor from Sorcerer's Stone / Philosopher's Stone. Boa constrictors are not venomous.

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I am guessing some sort of viper or python but I do not think it is ever specified. –  Chad Apr 9 '12 at 15:54
Boa constrictors are not venomous. If you can find, link to, and source that interview, I'd be glad reconsider. :) –  Slytherincess Apr 9 '12 at 21:11
I always assumed that Nagini, like Crookshanks, was a magical incarnation of your average animal. While Crookshanks appears to be just an average cat, JKR makes it clear that he is not and I assumed Nagini was the same way. I have absolutely no basis for this other than pure conjecture. –  Meg Coates Apr 10 '12 at 13:44
So, I did some looking around and there are some species of snakes who are poisonous that are also known to sometimes constrict. Lachesis muta muta is a species of pit viper found in Central America that has been known to grow up to 12 feet long, but I have only found one reference for this particular species constricting its prey. However, this particular genus is nocturnal and doesn't interact with humans very frequently so it could be that it hasn't been observed constricting by very many people. –  Meg Coates Apr 10 '12 at 13:48
I know you don't like the HP wiki, but they say "There is no known species of venomous snake matching Nagini's description," and I'm inclined to agree. –  Kevin Aug 25 '12 at 0:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Okay. I believe I have deduced what species Nagini is, if she is indeed a normal snake, and not some obscure type of magical creature.

From the HP Wiki (I realize the Wiki is not reliable on matters of canon, but I have verified this separately): (Hindi: nāginī, pronounced [ˈnɑːɡɪniː]; variant of Hindi: nāgin, a female cobra, from Hindi/Sanskrit: nāg, a cobra). Nagini's name is almost a direct conjugation of the Hindi word for female cobra.

Her description in the book does NOT match her depiction in the movies. According to Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book, the filmmakers chose to depict her as a "burmese python." (I assume the pop-up book is not pulling that out of its backside.)

Nagini is described in the books as female, green skinned, hooded, extremely venomous via some type of neurotoxin, and roughly twelve feet long, and thick as a man's thigh. This fits the description of an olive-green king cobra, in every aspect but the length and thickness. Large king cobras are capable of exceeding six feet in length, but this is uncommon. The Engorgio charm would be capable of increasing an object to roughly twice its normal size, based upon its seen usage.

I believe Nagini is a permanently Engorgio'd king cobra, or in her case, queen cobra. :)

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My only issue with this answer is that King Cobra venom doesn't have anti-coagulant properties. –  Pureferret Jan 12 '14 at 20:13
@Pureferret: We know that wounds made by dark magic are harder to heal. Could that, rather than the venom, cause the problems with Mr. Weasley's wounds? –  b_jonas Feb 9 at 8:11
@b_jonas are you implying that his wound was dark-magicked after he was bitten or that Nagini's was magically augmented? I guess any number of things could have been changed about Nagini (she could have been a slow worm to start with...) but I'm trying to make as few assumptions as possible. –  Pureferret Feb 9 at 8:16
@b_jonas and I realise this answer and mine make about as many assumptions. –  Pureferret Feb 9 at 8:27
Yes, I am implying that the Dark Lord has magically augmented Nagini's abilities. Sure, it would be better to find a snake that matches without any alterations, but if we can't find an exact match, I'd prefer one where the changes have precedent in the books, such as growing the size of animals to larger as the impostor Moody does with the spiders for demonstration. –  b_jonas Feb 9 at 8:58

It's strongly implied somewhere in the books (as dicussed in this answer) that Nagini was picked up by Volvemort in Albania.

Albania has very few poisonous snakes. Few that have anti-coagulation properties (which is the affliction given to Arthur when Nagini bites him). One that fits the bill is Vipera ammodytes, whose venom

may [induce] ecchymosis, progressive swelling, lymphedema, shortness of breath, marked limb stiffness, nausea, local hemorrhage, & internal bleeding

Again on Wikipedia, its venom is described as having anticoagulant effects. In fact it's noted to be likely the most dangerous snake to be found in Europe.

I initially disregarded the snake as it was far too small to be Nagini, but if such a snake was the subject of Dark Magic who's to say it couldn't be permanently enlarged, giving it the capability and the sapience to constrict? That would be a dangerous snake.

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I'd be interested in a citation for that, since it answers my question. As it is, it's speculation. –  Gabe Willard Apr 13 '12 at 20:41
I'm basing it on this. More research tomorrow! –  Pureferret Apr 13 '12 at 21:18
Vipera ammodytes is described as being "usually ash gray in males & gray-brown or brick-red in females." Nagini was described as female and green in the books. –  Gabe Willard Apr 14 '12 at 15:34
@GabeWillard there are no naturally occuring green vipers in albania. Nagini is just unique. –  Pureferret Apr 14 '12 at 16:08
You gave a good answer -- thank you for that and +1 :) I had such a hard time deciding on this question, but Gabe Willard's answer ended up being just a bit closer to what I think canon supports. –  Slytherincess May 18 '12 at 4:04

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