25

As far as I can recall, all of the Patronuses that are seen in the books (and movies) are small- to medium-sized mammals and a few are birds. I could've missed some, but I don't think there are any lizards, fish, or insects.

Does a Patronus have to take the form of a moderate-sized bird or mammal? Dumbledore and Tonks both have magical creatures as their Patronuses, so clearly that's a possibility, but would a unicorn Patronus be possible? What about a T-Rex (that would be my choice, if I could pick)? Or, if Patronuses are limited to warm-blooded animals, could someone have an elephant Patronus?

  • 1
    I remember someone having an otter Patronus that swims around them. This is a mammal, but since it "swims" through the air I imagine it's possible for there to be fish or other ocean-dwelling creatures - since they don't have to walk on legs to move. – hairboat Nov 1 '12 at 5:09
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    T Rex was may have been warm-blooded – Gerry Coll Sep 29 '13 at 10:27
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    How about a human Patronus? I imagine if Gilderoy Lockhart had a Patronus, it would be himself. – trysis Jul 9 '14 at 14:54
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    Tonks had a wolf patronus, not a werewolf. – ibid Mar 14 '16 at 0:44
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    @trysis Classic. But that's then insulting animals and complimenting him isn't it? He has enough compliments and animals don't get enough respect as it is! – Pryftan Mar 29 '18 at 1:46
19

The obvious counterexample is that Harry's is a stag, not a small animal by any means. Ginny's horse would also not be considered small. However there are presumably size limits - Andros the Invincible is notable for creating a giant-sized Patronus, the only person on record as doing so. Given the size and magicality is not an issue, unicorn Patronuses should be possible and elephants potentially.

  • Not small, no, but I was calibrating the large end of the scale with elephant and T-Rex. – Ward Apr 21 '12 at 8:36
  • What was Andros's Patronus? – AidanO Apr 23 '12 at 8:50
  • It wasn't specified. – dlanod Apr 23 '12 at 9:13
  • How large are Giants in Harry Potter again? Larger than an elephant? How about a T-Rex? In fact, what size are T-Rexes believed to be these days? – b_jonas Nov 1 '12 at 10:20
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    @Pryftan Yes, James and Harry had the same Patronus. – Bellatrix Mar 29 '18 at 17:42
13

Since this question and its answers are a bit old, I want to add some canon info from new material unveiled on Pottermore.

"No reliable system for predicting the form of an individual's Patronus has ever been found, although the great eighteenth-century researcher of Charms, Professor Catullus Spangle, set forth certain principles that are widely accepted as true.

The Patronus, asserted Spangle, represents that which is hidden, unknown but necessary within the personality... []... Here, says Spangle, is the explanation for the appearance of Patronuses in forms that their casters might not expect, for which they have never felt a particular affinity, or (in rare cases) [a form that the caster may not] even recognise....

It is usual, but not inevitable, for a Patronus to take the form of an animal commonly found in the caster's native country. Given their long affinity with humans it is perhaps unsurprising that among the most common Patronuses (although it must be remembered that any corporeal Patronus is highly unusual) are dogs, cats and horses. ...

Extinct Patronuses are very rare but not unknown. Strangely, given their long connection with wizardkind, owl Patronuses are unusual. Most uncommon of all possibly Patronuses are magical creatures such as dragons, Thestrals and phoenixes. ... While a rare and magical Patronus undoubtedly reflects an unusual personality, it does not follow that it is more powerful, or will enjoy greater success at defending its caster."

If a thestral is possible and a horse is common, the similarly size unicorn should not be an issue because of size, and if both Dragons and extinct animals in general are possible, a T-Rex should not be out of the question either.

Note, however, that according to Spangles, being able to choose your Patronus is rare, and possibly a sign of obsession or eccentricity, or a sign that they "may not be able to hide their essential self in common life, who may, indeed, parade tendencies that others might prefer to conceal."

8

There was once a witch in the lore of J. K. Rowling's "Book of Spells" who had a ladybird patronus, so I assume that insects are allowed, too.

3

Hedley Fleetwood was known to have had a wooly mammoth for a patronus, which is much bigger than an elephant

1

Most, but not all

As shown through JK Rowling's writings and through the Pottermore quiz, there are about 150 different known Patronus types. This shows a wide variety in what animals Patronuses can form.

But there are some types of animals which can't be Patronuses.
Rowling said on twitter:

I've been asked to make it clear that Harambe is not a Patronus you can actually get on pottermore. The previous RT is a joke. As you were.

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