In the Philosopher's Stone, Harry, Hermione, Neville and Draco are punished and have to assist Hagrid in his search for a dying unicorn.

Malfoy mentions that according to rumors, there are werewolves in the Forbidden Forest. When they ask if a werewolf could kill a unicorn, Hagrid answers that they are not fast enough to do that. He does not answer, "There are no werewolves in the forest", which is evidence that there are indeed werewolves (since Hagrid knows the ins and outs of the Forest as we are told).

Now from what we learn in The Prisoner of Azkaban, werewolves are humans that were bitten by other werewolves; they transform into werewolves during a full moon.

Does the information we get on werewolves in book 3 contradict what we can infer from book 1?

In particular:

  • Why would Hagrid not refute the idea of werewolves attacking unicorns simply using the fact that they transform once per month, and that Hagrid found two different unicorns attacked in a week (instead of using a dubious speed argument)?

  • Why would werewolves stay in the Forbidden Forest all year, when we know werewolves are actually human people who, although they are often rejected by normal wizards, would probably not be ignored by Hagrid and especially by Dumbledore, who I can't imagine would not offer any help to infected people staying in the forest near his school.

  • Why would they even let werewolves occupy the forest if one bite on a student could kill him or infect him for life? Sure it's the "Forbidden" Forest but, assuming there were werewolves as described in book 3 in it, the werewolves would probably drastically decrease the security of students.

  • 3
    With regards to point 1, I'm not sure if the text states transformations happen once per month, or only "during a full moon" - but if it's the latter, then it's worth noting that this could mean 3 transformations per month (according to NASA full moons span, on average, 3 days). This means it would be possible to have multiple werewolf attacks on different days, so long as they weren't more than 3 days apart.
    – delinear
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 12:43
  • Actually, werwolves are werwolves all the time, or since they turned into. They can have human form or animal form (wolf). They are not human; some of them were.
    – Crowley
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:13
  • 8
    I question your logic, that lack of confirmation of the lack of existence of werewolves is confirmation of the existence of werewoves. More likely, Hagrid gives the answer that he prefers - one that is interesting to him, and feels more positive (unicorns are safe from werewolves world-wide because of how fast they are)
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 4:47
  • To add to what @Scott says, Hagrid wasn't even asked whether there are werewolves in the forest. It seems rather presumptuous to assume that there are werewolves just because one character doesn't volunteer the information that there aren't...
    – Jasper
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 9:53
  • 3
    @Fatalize But right there you are assuming quite a lot, to be honest. Perhaps Hagrid wasn't paying too much attention to what the kids were saying. Perhaps he was interested in keeping the rumor alive to keep students out of the forest. Perhaps he wanted to keep these kids on their toes - after all, it was a punishment. Perhaps he just found the fight between a werewolf and unicorn more interesting than the presence of a werewolf. You're assuming that Hagrid would act the same as you would and you're assuming there can't be reasoning that you don't know about.
    – Jasper
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 10:51

2 Answers 2


The "Werewolves" in the Forest are Actually Highly Intelligent Regular Wolves

This is from the Pottermore entry on werewolves:

One curious feature of the condition is that if two werewolves meet and mate at the full moon (a highly unlikely contingency which is known to have occurred only twice) the result of the mating will be wolf cubs which resemble true wolves in everything except their abnormally high intelligence. They are not more aggressive than normal wolves and do not single out humans for attack. Such a litter was once set free, under conditions of extreme secrecy, in the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts, with the kind permission of Albus Dumbledore. The cubs grew into beautiful and unusually intelligent wolves and some of them live there still, which has given rise to the stories about ‘werewolves’ in the Forest – stories none of the teachers, or the gamekeeper, has done much to dispel because keeping students out of the Forest is, in their view, highly desirable.

So the wolves in the Forbidden Forest are the product of two werewolves mating during the full moon. They are wolves all the time. They aren't particularly dangerous -- certainly not as dangerous as werewolves during the full moon. And even if there is some mild danger associated with them, this isn't inconsistent with the books since lots of things in the Forest could be dangerous -- the gazillion giant spiders that are only kept in check by Hagrid and Aragog, for example.

  • 4
    But do they spread lycanthropy if they bite someone?
    – user40790
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:12
  • 8
    From the quote I presume not "which resemble true wolves in everything except their abnormally high intelligence".
    – josh
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:26
  • 3
    To elaborate on your comment, `@robopuppy -- the Pottermore quote says that they "do not single out humans for attack," making a human bite much less likely. cc @Terriblefan
    – Shokhet
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 18:04
  • 56
    ... Now I'm wondering if the female werewolf remains a wolf the whole time, or only gives birth during another full moon, or if she might give birth to cubs as a human.
    – Bobson
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 20:44
  • 10
    Huh. That's a neat retcon of the whole "werewolf" cubs screwup.
    – DavidS
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 9:33

There are no werewolves in the Forest. Hagrid was just giving a quick, factual answer. He might also have been teasing Malfoy.

I think it's correct to say that there were no werewolves in the Forest for the reasons stated in the question. Primarily, it would've been dangerous for the students; I think we can conclude that Dumbledore was aware that students like Fred, George, Harry, Ron and Hermione went into the Forest when they weren't strictly supposed to. The Hogwarts authorities wouldn't want to expose unsuspecting students to bites from rampaging werewolves at the full moon. Keeping werewolves in the Forest would also be inhumane for the werewolves, although it's worth noting that living in the wild isn't actually out of the ordinary for werewolves.

"However, it has been difficult gaining their trust. I bear the unmistakable signs of having tried to live among wizards, you see, whereas they have shunned normal society and live on the margins, stealing — and sometimes killing — to eat.”
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16, A Very Frosty Christmas).

I initially concluded that there was no canon confirmation on whether or not there were werewolves in the Forest. Robopuppy has since then contradicted me with a fantastic answer from Pottermore which proves that there were merely 'normal' wolves but no werewolves. I think that clears up the confusion as to whether or not Prisoner of Azkaban contradicts Philosopher's Stone. It doesn't; the 'werewolves' in Philosopher's Stone were not real werewolves at all. However, that doesn't explain why Hagrid didn't tell Harry and co that the Forest was a werewolf-free zone.

So the question becomes, why wouldn't Hagrid just say there were no werewolves around?. Well, there are multiple reasons why the unicorn couldn't have been taken down by a werewolf. The variations in speed between unicorns and werewolves is one factor; the lack of werewolves in the vicinity is another. I think that, in Hagrid's mind, he was answering Harry's question directly by ruling out werewolficide on account of speed.

“Could a werewolf be killing the unicorns?” Harry asked.
“Not fast enough,” said Hagrid. “It’s not easy ter catch a unicorn, they’re powerful magic creatures. I never knew one ter be hurt before.”
(Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15, The Forbidden Forest).

True, Harry has something of a bee in his bonnet about werewolves. He mistakes Ronan for a werewolf just a few minutes later.

“I knew it,” he murmured. “There’s summat in here that shouldn’ be.”
“A werewolf?” Harry suggested.
(Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15, The Forbidden Forest).

Hagrid likes Harry and so perhaps it would be kinder to simply say, "You know what, Harry? Forget this whole werewolf thing. There are no werewolves around. Capeesh?" Yet I think there are two main reasons why Hagrid doesn't spell out the lack of werewolves to Harry.

Firstly, Hagrid is engaged in a complex and dangerous investigation. He's in the Forest, trying to investigate something he's never come across before (a slain unicorn). He has to keep his wits about him at the best of times in the Forest. To complicate matters, he also has to look after a bunch of untrained first-years. Even if he likes some of the first-years in question, they make his job much harder. At one point he has to run through the undergrowth to 'rescue' Neville when Malfoy plays a prank on him. It would be understandable if he was a little terse when responding to silly questions from someone with little to no understanding of magical creatures. I think Hagrid's response has just a touch of agitation to it. Of course werewolves couldn't be killing the unicorns; they're not fast enough. He likes Harry and usually is happy to educate him about the magical world. But, in this instance, he doesn't have the time to stand around explaining werewolves to Harry when they're in a tense and dangerous situation.

Secondly, Hagrid may be being slightly mischievous. Stress and cheeky humour don't always go hand-in-hand but I think they do in this case. The whole obsession with werewolves in the Forest originally started with Malfoy, not Harry. He begins to panic when Filch tells him where he's going for his detention.

"Well, think again, boy - it’s into the forest you’re going and I’m much mistaken if you’ll all come out in one piece.”
At this, Neville let out a little moan, and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.
“The forest?” he repeated, and he didn’t sound quite as cool as usual. “We can’t go in there at night - there’s all sorts of things in there - werewolves, I heard.”
Neville clutched the sleeve of Harry’s robe and made a choking noise.
“That’s your problem, isn’t it?” said Filch, his voice cracking with glee. “Should’ve thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn’t you?”
Hagrid came striding toward them out of the dark, Fang at his heel. He was carrying his large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows hung over his shoulder.
“Abou’ time,” he said. “I bin waitin’ fer half an hour already...
(Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15, The Forbidden Forest).

Note that Hagrid was walking towards them during this conversation and could quite possibly have overheard the last part of it. He knows that Malfoy is a petrified wuss; Malfoy had revealed as much before they went into the Forest.

“I’m not going in that forest,” [Malfoy] said, and Harry was pleased to hear the note of panic in his voice.
“Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts,” said Hagrid fiercely. “Yeh’ve done wrong an’ now yeh’ve got ter pay fer it.”
“But this is servant stuff, it’s not for students to do. I thought we’d be copying lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he’d —”
“— tell yer that’s how it is at Hogwarts,” Hagrid growled.
(Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 15, The Forbidden Forest).

I think that Hagrid knows that Malfoy is terrified of the Forest, including the idea that it might contain werewolves. Malfoy isn't actually present when Hagrid says that werewolves aren't killing the unicorns. But why categorically rule out the idea that there might some in the Forest in the minds of the students? Detention is supposed to be a deterrent after all. If word spreads that getting into detention means going into the werewolf-infested Forest then students might think twice before causing trouble. And if that word should reach Malfoy in particular then that would give Hagrid some leverage over him for the next seven years. Harry, Hermione and Neville are the bravery-house; Malfoy was the only real wimp at the detention. I suspect that Hagrid had a wry smile on his face at the thought of Malfoy expecting a werewolf attack at any given moment. It would've been a pity to deny him that fear...

  • 8
    Perhaps you should stop projecting yourself onto other people, Tom. "It would've been a pity to deny him that fear..." is something that you'd say. Hagrid is not an antagonist.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:27

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