Let's put aside the question of how a huge snake could fit into the Hogwarts water pipes (they're magical pipes!) and exit them at random points (there are magical pipes/walls with built in portals only a basilisk can open!) to attack isolated Muggleborns (how would a snake know the difference?) unfortunate enough to be isolated (they really should've known better!)

My question is: How is it possible for a 60 ft long snake not to been seen by anyone/anything (for a giant snake it sure was a master of hit and run)? Even though there are hundreds of portraits everywhere through the castle, at least a hundred of house elves working all over the castle, and at least 20 ghosts roaming around (according to Ch7 of PS). Even if direct eye contact is necessary for a true kill and indirect eye contact (i.e. reflections) results in petrification, how is it possible that not a single soul saw it while it was retreating to the pipes? Not a single portrait/elf/ghost told Dumbledore "Hey headmaster I just saw a 30 ft long scaly something disappearing through wall/to a nearest bathroom, but I didn't see its face."


2 Answers 2


It seems to me that the Basilisk just didn't leave the pipes, except for its head. Staying inside the pipes, it could avoid everything. It went to find its target, then simply poked its head out, attacked, and went back in. The portraits might have seen something, but it seems to me their gaze would be more along the hallways. It seems like the attacks all happened near Bathrooms, and there was always a puddle of water around. However the Basilisk made the attacks, it didn't wander much outside of the plumbing, and for whatever reason, the pictures didn't see it.

  • But how would the basilisk poke it's head through the ceiling or wall? While I was reading the book I assumed it would always enter the corridor through the nearest 'parseltounge operated toilet' :), sneak (we already established it's ninja skills) to the target, lock eyes with them (or attempt to) and run back to nearest exit.
    – Fen1ks
    Jun 25, 2013 at 18:46
  • the lesson they learned was "beware of the bathrooms" (at least the ones outside your tower) :)
    – Fen1ks
    Jun 25, 2013 at 19:10
  • They were probably avoiding Moaning Myrtle. She wasn't restricted to the one bathroom, after all...
    – Izkata
    Jun 26, 2013 at 0:45
  • @Izkata Well Myrtle is scary :)
    – Fen1ks
    Jun 26, 2013 at 13:10

Given the way portraits work in the Potter universe, nobody would want portraits in or near the bathrooms, for privacy's sake. So the portraits would not have been able to witness the basilisk attacks. Harry and Hermione were not aware of House Elves at Hogwarts until well into the second book, so elves cleaning the bathroom would not have been doing so when the children were about, and been able to witness the basilisk's emergence. And there was one ghost who saw the basilisk--Nick, who became a victim.

  • 2
    Considering that they have a portrait of a mermaid inside of a Prefects' bathroom (in Ch25 of GoF - yes, in book it's a portrait not a mosaic) I don't think that's necessarily true; Nick saw the Basilisk face to face, I was wondering why no one saw it retreating? As for house-elves, nowhere in the book is explicitly stated they work at night, only that the kids tend not to notice them. But this was as good guess as any
    – Fen1ks
    Jul 1, 2013 at 8:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.