It is said that the crow of a rooster is fatal to a basilisk. So, does it mean that the basilisk would get petrified if it heard the crow of a rooster, or would it be killed?

If yes, then how powerful should a rooster/it's crow be in order to do the same?

PS: I didn't confuse with crow the sound, to a crow the bird.

  • 4
    Well, since fatal is synomyous to deadly i would presume the crowing of any rooster will kill any basilisk that hears that crow. A rooster supposedly crows like this in English cock-a-doodle-do (our German roosters crow Kikeriki [slightly OT: a crow (bird) craws ;) in both languages]). But either way, you're a huge snake that hatched out of a weirdly tended to egg, you hear that sound, you're done for; no petrification (of the basilisc only by it) is mentioned.
    – BMWurm
    Jan 13, 2016 at 15:04
  • 1
    @BMWurm On a lighter note, even Indian roosters go Kikeriki ! Cheers :D
    – Dawny33
    Jan 13, 2016 at 15:11
  • That's probably why they are called indo-germanic languages, there seems to be common ancestry, and we just found it: Roosters crow the same way :D
    – BMWurm
    Jan 13, 2016 at 15:17
  • 1
    Since we're talking about animal sounds: youtube.com/watch?v=Qq94Vcb6atU
    – Xantec
    Jan 13, 2016 at 20:53

3 Answers 3


I think the key word here is fatal, the definition of which is

Fatal: causing death


To emphasis this use of the word, we know that Dumbledore tells Filch that his petrified cat will not die, and we know petrification is non-fatal.

At last Dumbledore straightened up.

“She’s not dead, Argus,” he said softly.

Lockhart stopped abruptly in the middle of counting the number of murders he had prevented.

“Not dead?” choked Filch, looking through his fingers at Mrs. Norris. “But why’s she all — all stiff and frozen?”

“She has been Petrified,” said Dumbledore (“Ah! I thought so!” said Lockhart). “But how, I cannot say. . . .”

  • 4
    @Dawny33 Fawkes was lured into the chamber by the incredible acts of courage/bravery harry was performing.
    – Himarm
    Jan 13, 2016 at 15:12
  • 3
    Yes, he could have, had he known about it being a basilisc, and - more importantly - had he been there himself. As it where, only Harry was down there when the basilisc appeared, and by that time he wasn't (yet) good enough to conjure a rooster. Of course, it might have been the prudent thing to do, before forcing Lockhart down the whole in Myrtle's bathroom to make him conjure a rooster, but they had taken his wand for good reason (and he would probably have been too inept to conjure one anyway). In essence, had the kids told any teacher, the situation could have been resolved easier..
    – BMWurm
    Jan 13, 2016 at 15:13
  • 2
    @Dawny33 Dumbledore would've needed to be there in the chamber in order to transfigure something into a rooster.
    – Mark
    Jan 13, 2016 at 15:13
  • 2
    @Dawny33: Also, we don't know if a transfigured rooster would work the same. It says "crow of a rooster", not "cry similar to a rooster's" - it may be the transfiguration's cry works perfectly, or it might be weaker, or even ineffective because the crowing sound is actually coming from the sock they started with. If that is the case, it makes more sense the real roosters would be killed (since that action does, in retrospect, reveal the basilisk's weakness).
    – Megha
    Jan 13, 2016 at 18:04
  • 1
    @Megha That's a nice insight about transfigured roosters :)
    – Dawny33
    Jan 13, 2016 at 18:05

I have yet to hear about a Basilisk being petrified by a rooster's crow in mythology -- rather, it seems to flat out kill them. This itself seems counter-intuitive, as basilisks are supposed to be chicken eggs incubated by toads, but I digress! Suffice to say that, if Harry Potter followed mythology perfectly, a rooster's crow would kill a basilisk.

However, Harry Potter does no such thing in many cases. Unicorns aren't elusive to men, boggarts aren't evil house elves, centaurs ... well, those ones may be myth-accurate -- but if Lupin only had to bite Fenrir Greyback to be rid of his lycanthropy, he wouldn't have been relegated to the Shrieking Shack every month.

I have no canon evidence one way or the other, but given the general "remove the ridiculous portions of a myth" nature of most Harry Potter myth adoptions, I'd have to guess that this feature of basilisks would be removed.

  • 1
    Thank You. Not being a native speaker, I had to read your answer 3 times (with a dictionary) for understanding it :)
    – Dawny33
    Jan 13, 2016 at 16:25
  • @Dawny33 Sorry!
    – user40790
    Jan 13, 2016 at 16:29
  • 4
    But note that in Harry Potter Riddle has Ginny kill the roosters, before letting the Basilisk out. So in this case this feature wasn't removed.
    – Erik
    Jan 13, 2016 at 16:45
  • @Erik This is true... but it might not have killed the basilisk. We really need a Rowling quote to resolve it.
    – user40790
    Jan 13, 2016 at 16:47
  • 6
    @Axelrod The book does specifically state that the crowing of the rooster is fatal to basilisks. True, it's only in a quote from a library book, but still—unless the library book is talking about a different myth than the one that turns out to be true (in the book), that quote, coupled with Ginny’s cockicide, makes it pretty much set in stone that the feature was not removed. Jan 13, 2016 at 20:59

It would be killed.

My dictionary defines “fatal” as “causing death” – it would be killed by the crowing of the rooster, not just petrified.

If a semantic argument isn’t enough, we can look to mythology. Much of the lore around magical creatures in Harry Potter comes from classical myths; the basilisk is no exception. In Bulfinch’s Mythology, the passage on the basilisk reports the same weakness:

There is an old saying that “everything has its enemy” – and the cockatrice quailed before the weasel. The basilisk might look daggers, the weasel cared not, but advanced boldly to the conflict. When bitten, the weasel retired for a moment to eat some rue, which was the only plant the basilisks could not wither, returned with renewed strength and soundness to the charge, and never left the enemy till he was stretched dead on the plain. The monster, too, as if conscious of the irregular way in which he came into the world, was supposed to have a great antipathy to a cock; and well he might, for as soon as he heard the cock crow he expired.

(The basilisk and the cockatrice are not always considered to be the same animal, but Bulfinch treats them as the same. In this version of the myth, the basilisk is created by hatching a rooster’s egg under a toad or serpent, hence “irregular way in which he came into the world”.)

And Bulfinch is just a collection of existing myths; we can find this going back even further, to a passage from Aelian’s Characteristics of Animals (2nd century AD):

With its crowing a cock scares a lion and is fatal to a basilisk.

The exact phrase in the original Greek is “ἀναιρεῖ δὲ βασιλίσκον”. The third word is Basiliskon, and the first word, anairei translates as “to kill” or “to put to death”. There can be no doubt about the meaning of this sentence.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.