8

‘It's gettin' late and we've got lots ter do tomorrow,’ said Hagrid loudly. ‘Gotta get up ter town, get all yer books an' that.’

He took off his thick black coat and threw it to Harry.

‘You can kip under that,’ he said. ‘Don't mind if it wriggles a bit, I think I still got a couple of dormice in one o' the pockets

That's from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone chapter 4, when Hagrid has met Harry in the hut-on-the-rock, after he's told everything necessary to Harry.

What's the story about the mice? Why did Hagrid keep mice with him in his coat pockets?

7
  • Food? Dormice have been eaten for a loooooong time, although they aren't as popular as they used to be. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_dormouse
    – Wad Cheber
    Jan 11 '16 at 23:39
  • A snack for fluffy? Or one of his other pets?
    – Zoredache
    Jan 11 '16 at 23:41
  • 1
    More likely food for some animal he's taking care of.
    – Kai
    Jan 11 '16 at 23:42
  • 2
    Presumably for the owls.
    – Valorum
    Jan 12 '16 at 0:52
  • 2
    You guys have depressed me! I always thought crazy old animal-mad Hagrid has mice living in his coat. But you all think he eats them or feeds them to others? Oh man...
    – ThruGog
    Jan 13 '16 at 19:41
12

Most of the mentions of mice in the HP books have been in relation to feeding owls. Although Hagrid doesn't seem to have an owl of his own, he does have friendly relationships with a lot of other predatory animals. It seems probable that the mice are intended as food for something - exactly what, we have no way of telling (perhaps Fluffy, as someone mentioned in a comment.)

If you want to look at it logically, let's consider the possible reasons somebody might want to keep live mice.

  1. As pets.

    Nah, that's not very Hagrid, is it? Mice aren't big or dangerous enough to keep his attention for very long. If it can't kill, eat, maim, or injure you pretty casually, it's probably not one of Hagrid's pets.

  2. As experimental objects.

    Animal experimentation is a sad reality, and the majority of vertebrates experimented on are mice. It's no less of a reality in the Potterverse, where eleven-year-old students are expected to transform mice into snuffboxes for their first-year Transfiguration exam. (Seriously, where's the Ministry when you really need them? Or Hermione with her Society for the Protection of Animal Elf Welfare?)

    Again though, this doesn't sound much like Hagrid. He's never been great at performing magic, and experimenting on mice isn't one of the necessities of life like lighting fires - not to mention that his love for animals would probably prevent him from hurting even a mouse, unless it was necessary or in a good cause. Which brings us to ...

  3. As food.

    From Hagrid's point of view, tiny creatures like mice could easily be sacrificed for the sake of nurturing a terribly dangerous cute monster. From owls and cats to dragons and Blast-Ended Skrewts, every creature needs to eat, and those that Hagrid likes need to eat meat. We don't know what specific beast Hagrid might have been tending at that time, but probably something that would see a mouse as a tasty little snack.

    It's even possible that Hagrid might have been planning to eat them himself. As this question shows, he's not averse to eating stoats or some unknown meaty animal with talons. And dormice have actually been eaten even by normal people for thousands of years. I haven't been able to come up with a convincing argument against this one, but my gut feeling says no, he was going to feed them to one of his 'pets'.

    (Thanks to @WadCheber for professional advice on the culinary properties of dormice.)

8
  • Food for himself? Dormice have been eaten for a loooooong time, although they aren't as popular as they used to be. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_dormouse
    – Wad Cheber
    Jan 12 '16 at 1:23
  • @WadCheber I thought of that, but ... yuk.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 12 '16 at 1:28
  • @WadCheber You just made me ask a new question.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 12 '16 at 1:42
  • 1
    The answer on that question says he eats stoats. I consider that evidence that he'd eat mice.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jan 12 '16 at 4:02
  • 1
    I imagine he kept them alive in his pockets because he didn't have a fridge. The Romans kept them alive and fed them walnuts and stuff to fatten them up. Then, when they wanted to eat them, they'd kill them, gut and skin them, stuff them, and cook them. If Hagrid eats them, he'd probably do likewise.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jan 13 '16 at 0:06

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