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My friend at work proposed a question to me a few minutes ago:

If the witches and wizards cloaked themselves from muggles with their spells and it's said that only witches and wizards can cast spells, how come magical creatures like ogres, dragons, unicorns, etc aren't witnessed by muggles?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

It is not that they cannot see them so much as any sightings are actively suppressed by both the Ministry of Magic and the muggle governments. The minister says as much when he visits after Harry saves Dudley and Hagrid alludes to it when he first picks up Harry. There is a whole section of the Ministry devoted to the suppression of magical activity amoung muggles.

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Among other methods, they used charms which according to Rowling cause muggles who got too close to suddenly realize they left the gas on or something similar, even if it weren't true, consequently causing muggles to leave oblivious and without incident. – Neil Jun 29 '11 at 15:40
Yes, Muggle-repelling charms. They also Obliviate memories of seeing magical creatures, or magic itself. Certain types of magical creature encounters solve themselves; Humans meet giants all the time, "only their deaths are put down to mountaineering accidents". – KeithS Oct 20 '11 at 1:37
But wait -- I seem to recall that when Harry was "on trial" for misuse of magic, that the witness, who was a squib, couldn't describe the dementor with any accuracy, which means she didn't really see it... So some magical creates are invisible to the non-magical. – Sean McMillan Dec 20 '11 at 13:41
@SeanMcMillan - Dudley was able to see the dementors. I would suspect that the witness was put up to saying she saw something that she never saw. – Chad Dec 20 '11 at 13:49
@SeanMcMillan Dudley didn't see them (Chpt 1), "I c-can't see! I've g-gone blind! - I . . . " All lights have gone out in the area so no one can see anything . . . In the next chapter Dudley blames Harry thinking it was Harry doing magic on him that caused the cold, the nausea. . . Mrs. Figg didn't SEE either, but she did feel, hear and know what had happened even though she couldn't see. Ministry in the state it was in, they treated it as if sight was all that mattered. – balanced mama Jan 16 '13 at 4:01

First of all, there is clear evidence that such creatures CAN be seen by muggles. To be more specific, if they were not seen, muggle folklore would not have dragons/unicorns etc.... The last one is actually corroborated in PS by Ron, when discussing the dragon that Hargid was raising - he explicitly mentions that dragon-raising is prohibited because otherwise it's hard to suppress Muggle sightings of them

Second, the reason why there are few sightings (few enough that wizarding authorities can contemporaneously suppress any of them by memory modifications) is:

  • Rarity. Most magical creatures seem to be as rare as wizards/witches.

  • Habitats. Unicorns for example seem to be living where most humans aren't around. Ditto for dragons/giants

  • Humans generally don't often see/notice animals these days. How many people around here have actually first hand witnessed, say, a wolf? (this is related to the first two bullet point)

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The only magical creatures we see in the novels that Muggles are incapable of seeing are the Dementors and the Thestrals (most likely - we never see Muggles near them).

The Dementors are dark, evil creatures, the stuff of nightmares. They are the shadows under your bed and the things that go bump in the night. They are the cold chill on your spine when you awaken, screaming, from a nightmare. Muggles cannot see them, but they feel the effects well enough. Their invisibility to the mundane world is most likely part of their powers, like the soul-stealing 'kiss' and their happiness-draining aura.

Thestrals, on the other hand, have the magical ability to remain unseen unless the observer has witnessed and understood death, personally. We never see a Muggle who sees one, or who is in the position to do so, so we don't know if Muggles who've seen death can see them.

There are no other magical creatures in the series which Muggles can't see. It's mentioned that they CAN see giants, dragons, etc. Non-human creatures such as house elves and goblins have their own ways of going unseen, or of blending in.

Structures like Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4 are hidden by magic.

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It is feasible Dementors could be seen by them, but it seems the beasts suck out light to aid in making themselves invisible when in Muggle areas (see Dudley Demented -chpt 1- in OP). Of note, in Care of Magical Beasts. . . Ministry regulations are stated to decree concealment charms be regularly placed on certain beasts owned by witches and wizards to avoid human detection. – balanced mama Jan 16 '13 at 4:07
@balancedmama: Sorry, but the books clearly state that Dementors can't be seen by Muggles. There's even a question (in Fudge's mind, at least) as to whether Squibs can see them or not (they can). – Jeff Jan 16 '13 at 17:01

if you read about some of the creature, you notice alot of them dont seem to be natural but are rather created by you could suppose that either these creatures are all the product of a huge magic genetic experiment or that they have just grown so rare that virually no wild ones exsist and all that do are demestacated or live in unplottable area's

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I believe the implication is that most magical creatures have the natural ability for glamour, the ability to change peoples perceptions of particular things.

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Then why is the perception different for witches/wizards if the creatures could change perception like that? Wouldn't they then be able to hide from the magical world, too? – OghmaOsiris Jun 27 '11 at 21:33
in most fantasy it is a simple thing for magic users to see through basic glamour, they just do it naturally. Normally the implication is that they are actually paying more attention so the world around them. Possibly because through magic they are more connected to it. – Digital Powers Jun 27 '11 at 21:36
Do you have any of this stated in-universe of Harry Potter? – OghmaOsiris Jun 27 '11 at 21:39
@Oghma: most likely not, but JK Rowling is active on a handful of (insanely) popular HP forums. She gives 'word of god' answers there regularly. – Jeff Jun 28 '11 at 5:06
-1 I will reverse if you can show a reference to anything supporting this. – Chad Jun 28 '11 at 13:06

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