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.

  • I am guessing some sort of viper or python but I do not think it is ever specified.
    – Chad
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 15:54
  • Boa constrictors are not venomous. If you can find, link to, and source that interview, I'd be glad reconsider. :) Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 21:11
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    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
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 13:44
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    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
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 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
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 0:33

4 Answers 4


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.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 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
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 8:11
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    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
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 8:58
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    Actually the king cobras venom has anticoagulant properties (see ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22817464).
    – C. Tomm
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 14:27
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    Almost 4 years late, but king cobras grow to 18 feet.
    – user40790
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 18:37

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

  • I'd be interested in a citation for that, since it answers my question. As it is, it's speculation. Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 20:41
  • I'm basing it on this. More research tomorrow!
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Apr 13, 2012 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. Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 15:34
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    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. Commented May 18, 2012 at 4:04
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    Even non-constrictor type snakes (ie, venomous ones) will wrap around their victims while eating or waiting for it to finish dying so it can be eaten. The difference is a constrictor grabs the victim with the mouth and then wraps around it, starting the killing process. Venomous snakes will strike, back off for a bit, then go in and grab the animal and start eating, which often involves wrapping around it to keep it in place. That whole lack of hands thing...
    – ivanivan
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 16:58

From the patterning on her back, the head shape and and size, I'm going to say Nagini is indeed a reticulated python based character. The fact of venom could just be Voldemort's magic, right? I will post two pictures, one of Nagini and another of a reticulated python and I will point out the similarities between the two:

This is Nagini, one of the better pictures I could find that showed her true coloring/patterning

This is Nagini, one of the better pictures I could find that showed her true coloring/patterning

This is a reticulated python guarding a clutch of eggs as you can see there are massive similarities to the patterns, head shape. etc

this is a reticulated python guarding a clutch of eggs as you can see there are massive similarities to the patterns, head shape. etc

Next I will prove whoever said that the snake that Harry Potter let free turned out to be Nagini, and the fact that it was a boa constrictor wrong. It was a caramel Burmese python. So they are two different (but much alike) species of snake. They are different and cannot be the same snake.

This is the snake that Harry released. And originally found out he could speak Parseltongue.

enter image description here

Looking at the square patterning, the coloring, and the fact that I know my constrictors, this snake is a hypomelanistic Burmese python. Here is a picture of a hypomelanistic Burmese python, as you can see they are exactly the same:

enter image description here

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    Thanks guys, I tried to but I couldn't figure it out lol Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 13:40
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    The movies are wildly inconsistent in their depiction of Nagini. In the promotion materials (cutouts and posters) they have also used carpet pythons and boa constrictors.
    – JAD
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 12:03

I think you're right about the species of both snakes as they appear in the movie. They clearly used pythons for filming.

Nagini in the book, though, seems to be a magical creature created by Voldemort. Because her species is never given in the books, she may be one of a kind (thus why I think she was created by Voldemort and not one of a pre-existing species). She does seem to have characteristics of cobras, pythons and maybe green anacondas, but you can't pin her down to any one species known to muggles.

  • This does answer the question (albeit without citing sources), but that first paragraph looks out of place -- were you attempting to reply to another answer?
    – Null
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 19:28

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