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Apparently, there's a snake mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that's able to do this–

The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.

It winked.

Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.


What the heck? How is this possible? According to the Anatomy of Boa Constrictors (emphasis mine):

Eyes and Ears

Boa constrictors have eyes with straight, vertical pupils that can take in a lot of light to help the animal hunt at night. They do not have eyelids, but instead rely on an ocular scale that covers the eye to protect it from dirt, dust and other debris. Like all snakes, boas do not have external ears, but use a weak set of internal ears to sense nearby vibrations.

Reinforced in the book Boas and Pythons to the World; they simply do not have eyelids!

By the time we reach the pythons and boas we have seen an array of scale ... and granular in Boa Constrictors, large and distinctly imbricate (overlapping) in the ... Although lacking eyelids, snakes possess transparent eye coverings known as 'brilles' ...

And yes, this snake is a boa constrictor.

The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.

Boa Constrictor, Brazil

enter image description here

So how did this boa constrictor defy biological logic and wink at Harry?


If it's simply a matter of Muggles not recognising a magical creature and placing it in a zoo, is it confirmed by J.K. Rowling? Or as Mithrandir points out, a case of JK Rowling bad science?

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    Apparently it was not a boa constrictor - maybe those idiot muggles captured some magical animal that looked like a boa constrictor. – Gallifreyan Jul 14 '17 at 9:32
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    Sounds like another case of JKR math - except JKR science ;) – Mithrandir Jul 14 '17 at 9:44
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    @Voronwë - This isn't a real-life boa constrictor, it's a HP boa constrictor. Remember that we're dealing with a universe where the Playstation came out before 1994. – ibid Jul 14 '17 at 10:03
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    In the film, it's actually a Burmese Python (for some reason). Doesn't change anything, because it's not like any snake is capable of winking, but I felt like I should mention it. – DisturbedNeo Jul 14 '17 at 11:27
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    It looks less like an actual wink and more like the snake is moving its "brow bone" down and its "cheek" up to force itself to "wink". The movement of its head reinforces the idea that it is taking a lot of effort for the snake to pull it off. I don't see any actual eyelid, which is required for making an official wink. – DCOPTimDowd Jul 14 '17 at 16:35
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Assuming the story is set in our world, the only way a snake can change the visual perception of its eye is, when it is loosing its skin. Some time before loosing the skin, the eye gets "milky". The eye can appear more clear again, when the skin is pressed against the eye again. Ignoring the movie and sticking to the book only, it is theoretically possible, that the snake was in a state shortly before loosing its skin. The eye was milky but by moving within the skin that it was about loose, it could generate the impression of winking, which could have been done on purpose by the snake in the context of the story.

  • That's an interesting theory! Seems like this is going to be as good an answer as I can get. Enjoy the 25 rep. – Mat Cauthon Aug 11 '17 at 12:11
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It also bears noting, that sometimes, depending on the lighting and surroundings a boas eye can appear almost entirely black, and then shift to the shades of colors with the vertical pupil. Mine does this all the time. Especially depending on what time of day it is. It fools my children all the time as to whether she is sleeping or not. They think it is an eyelid, and I have to remind them she does not have an eyelid as we think of it. Further, it is clearly a snake that is not real, but computer generated for that purpose. special effects work wonders.

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