So in both the books and movies, the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets is said to only listen to the Heir of Slytherin. We all know Tom Riddle was the Heir, but I want to know why the basilisk could only listen to the Heir? And if it is possible to get an animal to listen to you like that, is it possible that all the heirs to each house have a certain animal that only they can talk to as well?

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    Hello and welcome to SF+F.stackexchange. The first part of your question is exactly the sort of question that tends to get answered here. The second half of your question is probably too speculative, though. The answer is clearly "yes, it's possible" but there may not be a great deal to say as to whether or not it's correct, it it encourages answers that are theories rather than based on evidence from canon. It's up to you, of course, but please do consider rephrasing to something like "are there any other examples of creatures who can only talk to the heir of a Hogwart's house?"
    – Christi
    Apr 8, 2018 at 23:35
  • I placed the last part of the question as to introduce a better chance for viewers to place their opinion instead of just a 'straight out of the book' answer. Thank you for commenting, but i will not be refraining my question. Thank you for your opinion. Apr 8, 2018 at 23:49
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    @AgneyastraElde Hi Elde! The purpouse of all stack exchange sites is to solve problems and not to ask for opinions as you can see in the site FAQ.
    – Ram
    Apr 9, 2018 at 1:56

1 Answer 1


Only Parselmouths can control a basilisk, and the Heir was one.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them explains that only Parselmouths can control a basilisk.

“However, since Basilisks are uncontrollable except by Parselmouths, they are as dangerous to most Dark wizards as to anybody else, and there have been no recorded sightings of Basilisks in Britain for at least four hundred years.”
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (textbook)

Salazar Slytherin was a Parselmouth, and most likely presumed his descendants would be as well. It may be, though, that the basilisk was controllable by any Parselmouth, but that Salazar presumed any Parselmouth who attended Hogwarts and found the Chamber of Secrets would be his descendant. However, Harry was able to understand the basilisk as well, and he could open the Chamber.

“Ron,’ he breathed, ‘this is it. This is the answer. The monster in the Chamber’s a Basilisk – a giant serpent! That’s why I’ve been hearing that voice all over the place, and nobody else has heard it. It’s because I understand Parseltongue …”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)

Harry never attempted to control the basilisk, so it’s unclear if he’d be able to do it. He did have a part of the Dark Lord’s soul in him but he himself wasn’t a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin. In fact, while he never attempted to control the basilisk either, Ron was able to open the Chamber by imitating the word in Parseltongue that Harry had used. Therefore, it seems to be based on ability to speak Parseltongue rather than heritage.

We don’t know if he was the only one who could - Harry didn’t try.

Tom Riddle was the only one who we know could control the basilisk, because he’s the only one who we saw try to control the basilisk. Harry (the only other known Parselmouth who was at Hogwarts at that time) never tried, so we have no way of knowing if a Parselmouth who wasn’t a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin would be able to control the basilisk as well.

  • You're right that Harry didn't try - but that's because of Tom Riddle's line "Parselmouth won't save you now, Potter. It only obeys me." I think the question is asking how that works. Are you suggesting that Tom's line is a lie?
    – LevenTrek
    Apr 10, 2018 at 7:20
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    In latter books, we find out that Tom (before he becomes Voldermort) is prone to lying and deceit, and he is almost always lying or at least not being entirely truthful almost all the time. We can't take his word for it. All we know for sure is only Parseltongues can control the basilisk, a serpent and Harry was a parseltongue. Maybe he could control it. He just didn't try Apr 10, 2018 at 12:46
  • @LevenTrek Yes, I am suggesting that Tom was lying (or incorrect) when he said “Parseltongue won’t save you, it only obeys me”. If Tom thought there was even a slight chance that Harry could control the basilisk, it would be very much in his interest to stop Harry from trying. By saying “don’t bother”, he does stop Harry from trying, and removes any chance of Harry getting control of the basilisk.
    – Obsidia
    Apr 10, 2018 at 15:57
  • @BernardtheBear Exactly! Tom was prone to lying, and he’d have a very compelling reason to tell Harry that only he could control the basilisk. Whether Tom knew for certain who could control it isn’t clear, but we certainly can’t take his word for it. (Another thing to consider is his arrogance - he may actually believe he’s the only one who can control the basilisk, but it doesn’t make it true.) Like you said, since Harry never tried, we don’t have any way of knowing for sure if he could control the basilisk.
    – Obsidia
    Apr 10, 2018 at 16:12

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