Prompted by seeing Does each student need a pet?

It's stated in the letters to first year students:

Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad

— Philosopher’s Stone, chapter 5, Diagon Alley

However, Ron is able to bring Scabbers (a rat). Which, is not included on the approved list. So, I was wondering, are there any other students who have pets that aren't included on the approved list, and what are the actual limitations for what pets are accepted and which ones aren't. (ex: could a student bring a small dog instead of a cat? Or a student bring another type of bird other than an owl? Or a type of lizard, turtle, snake, instead of a toad?)

Also, related question: Why was Ron Weasley permitted to bring a rat to Hogwarts?, though that question is asking specifically why Ron can bring Scabbers, not about the rule in general, or if other students have pets not on the approved list.

  • 2
    Also in the movies, one of Harry's children - I forget which - has a ferret in a cage as they're being dropped off at Platform 9 and 3/4ths. Sep 3, 2015 at 20:34
  • I believe that the owl, cat or toad limitation is only for first years, which is why its in the letter. The rules are relaxed in later years, but I don't remember the details. Sep 3, 2015 at 21:53
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    While the wizard world is far less sensible than ours in many ways, one foible they've never been guilty of is having zero-tolerance (i.e., zero discretion) policies. If a student has a pet other than an owl, cat, or toad, it may well be that they have to ask for an exemption - but there is no reason to think that such exemptions (when reasonable) are not readily granted. Sep 3, 2015 at 22:20
  • 3
    The only ferret in a cage I remember was Malfoy in Crabbe's pants. Almost makes one forgive Barty Crouch, JR Sep 3, 2015 at 22:29

6 Answers 6


There definitely are limitations on dangerous animals:

  • Hagrid had to hide his Acromantula. Terribly misunderstood creature, that, as well.

  • Pretty sure same would have gone for a dragon, or Hagrid'd have had a baby dragon as a student as well.

Otherwise, I don't recall any canon-mentioned limitations. Me, I'm hoping for a magical pet rock.

  • 4
    +1 for the magical pet rock; I hope it doesn't bite! Sep 4, 2015 at 2:28

Lee Jordan also brought a Tarantula to the school, Fred and George talked about it, I guess it was in Harry's and Ron's first year; and he didn't really hide it either. Additionally, he was in his third year at that point, so it might have been allowed.


One should note: the letter in question is one sent to first-year students.

While Ron brings Scabbers as a first-year student, his family has had plenty of students at Hogwarts in the years preceding. In fact, I want to say there was a comment about Scabbers being a hand-me-down. So, the Weasleys would already know Scabbers was acceptable.

Point being, the limitation may be aimed at first-year students, both to limit the likelihood of someone bringing a wholly inappropriate pet, and to prevent a flood of owls sent to Dumbledore requesting permission to substitute.

Note - completely conjecture, no specific backup from canon.


I think other birds may be allowed too (it doesn’t say specifically in the books) but in the films I think some students can be seen with crows/ravens in cages and also ferrets/weasels and other rodents. I guess these are all within reason so it makes sense for students to have them. Others that may be allowed are:

  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Other reptiles
  • Rodents
  • Rabbits (?)
  • Ravens/crows
  • Pygmy puffs (Ginny had one in 5th year)

(Remember these aren’t necessarily canon but I assume they may be allowed).

  • 2
    Whilst speculation is fine we generally prefer answers that backed up with evidence on this site. For example, do you have any images of these pets from the films?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:15

Ginny Weasley also brought a Pygmy Puff to school, and they weren't on the list either. I also think that Fred and George had sold Pygmy Puffs to 1st years as well as older years. I think you just have to get permission from the Headmaster.

  • 1
    While interesting, what evidence do you have for your thoughts that you would need permission? Is this covered anywhere else?
    – Edlothiad
    May 23, 2018 at 15:23

I feel like those three animals the school helps, take care of. The owlery for the owls, we never hear of Hermione having to feed her cat or let him in or out of the castle so maybe house elves help, and toads there are lots of cold dark places for them. But other animals like rats, ferrets, pygmy puffs, and spiders you have to take care of yourself.

  • 1
    Can you possibly provide any textual evidence that leads you to think this is the case?
    – Edlothiad
    Jul 13, 2018 at 6:00

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