I found this quote:

No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form. Those few Animagi who transform into winged creatures may enjoy flight, but they are a rarity. The witch or wizard who finds him- or herself transfigured into a bat may take to the air, but, having a bat’s brain, they are sure to forget where they want to go the moment they take flight.
Quidditch Through the Ages - Page 1 - Scholastic Edition

at this place: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/7783/13716

Since it is from a reputable user I doubt the quote is wrong
However, this raises the question, does changing into an animal also change one's level of intelligence into that animal? The way the Animagi in the books act in their animal form sort of indicates that they keep their human level intelligence (for example, Rita Skeeter, in terms of intelligence, should have been on the lowest end of the scale when transformed, but still she is able to find out information as a beetle, as well as remember it well enough to write newspaper stories later).

Does an Animagus changing into an animal change his level of intelligence?

(The quote is not from one of the seven Harry Potter books, but I had the idea that J. K. Rowling had kept the facts consistent between the main and supplementary books.)

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    The quote seems to be talking about the difference between animagi and transfiguration -- being transfigured gives you a bat brain, but animagi can fly without that difficulty. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 12:35
  • I'm not aware of any canon quotes that would precisely indicate if 100% of intelligence remains - merely the facts you already laid out that indicate that a significant level remains (e.g. Marauders were able to both remember to restrain Lupin and managed to recall their adventures to make the Map) Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 12:43
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    Speaking of Marauders, Sirius did say that when he transformed into a dog in Azkaban, the dementors could detect his feelings becoming less human
    – user13267
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 13:20
  • 1
    I forget the details, but wasn’t there an Animagus who got stuck in his animal form because he spent too long as it?
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 21:13
  • 1
    @alexwlchan Are you sure you're not confusing Animagus with Animorphs? ;)
    – Sabre
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 16:19

3 Answers 3


I think there are two distinct things going on in the quote (which is the first statement, on the first page, within the first paragraph of Quidditch through the Ages btw).

The second statement is about the transfigured witch or wizard (more like what happened to Draco in book four when Crouch/Moody transfigures him in the name of discipline). In the second example, the brain truly is reduced to that of the animal into which the witch or wizard is transfigured (however, Draco clearly understands that something happened to him and is frightened by the experience, which indicates to me there is some residual memory once one is transfigured back into his or her human shape).

However, as you also point out there may be more to the difficulties an animagus might face while in his/her animagus form as well.

First, we learn from Hermione in PoA, that the difference between an animagus and wereanimal is that in addition to the fact that the were-animal has no choice in transforming, the were-animal forgets himself entirely. This is further corroborated when Lupin says,

As long as I take it in the week preceding the full moon, I keep my mind when I transform . . . I am able to curl up in my office, a harmless wolf, and wait for the moon to wane again.

Before the wolfsbane potion was discovered, however, I became a fully fledged monster once a month.

PoA pg. 353, Scholastic edition

As user 13267 points out, we learn from Sirius that Dementors were not able to detect him while he was in his dog form because his emotions at the very least become less human. Since McGonagall can still read maps and a paper when in her cat form (book one chapter one or two), clearly her intelligence was not reduced fully to animal form.

"Dementors can't see you know. . . " He swallowed. "They feel their way toward people by feeding off their emotions. . . They could tell that my feelings were less - less human, less complex when I was a dog. . . but they thought, of course, that I was losing my mind like everyone else in there, so it didn't trouble them. But I was weak, very weak, and I had no hope of driving them away from me without a wand. . . "

PoA pg. 371, Scholastic edition

With animagi it is very clear, memory and intelligence is retained both in the animagus form (why Sirius is able to get himself to Hogwarts to go after Pettigrew as well as why Rita Skeeter can spy as a beetle), but perhaps it is partially eclipsed by the emotions of the animal into which one transforms.

The witch/wizard and the animal form even have similarities when in the human shape - particularly during moments of high emotion. For example, if you look at the first few paragraphs of Chapter 18 in PoA, words used to describe the actions of Sirius include growled, teeth barred, snarled, and clawing. I'm quite sure it is no coincidence Rowling chose these words for Black at this moment having just revealed what he is. Pettigrew is also described as having a squeaky voice and she says "something of the rat lingered around his nose." So if those animal traits can impact the man even while in his human form, of course the animal emotions can impact the witch or wizard while in his animal form too and probably more strongly.

We also know from Prisoner of Azkaban (and the quote from Quidditch) that becoming an animagus is extremely difficult and perhaps even hazardous.

"There have only been seven animagi this century and Pettigrew's name wasn't on the list."

Hermione - pg. 351

"it took the best part of three years to work out how to do it. Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school, and lucky they were, because the Animagus transformation can go horribly wrong - one reason the ministry keeps a close watch on those attempting to do it. Peter needed all the help he could get from James and Sirius."

Lupin - pgs. 353-354 Scholastic edition

My understanding then, was that it certainly doesn't do long-term damage to intelligence, however, it may take someone with a very sound mind, and extreme focus to become an animagus in the first place. If it is rare to become any animal, it must be extremely rare to successfully become an animagus that also happens to be a flying animal.

Even then, it is clear that human emotions are diminished. This may put the animagus in danger of losing his/her human focus and desire and allow animal instict and emotion to have the potential of winning over (one way such a transformation might go horribly wrong and why, in part, the ministry keeps tabs on such things - or tries to).

So, we reach the first statement in the quote which indicates, as Yamikuronue points out in the comments, the quote simply points out the fact that flying animal animagi are rare. The quote also specifies flight in human form indicating flight can take place in the form of a flying animal - though this is difficult or rare.

No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form. Those few Animagi who transform into winged creatures may enjoy flight, but they are a rarity.

Considering Rita, there would actually have been 11 known animagi this century - in the British Isles. Only one of those, Rita, would have the ability to fly (most beetle species are fliers) - and I'm sure, fly she did as we see her very high up on a window ledge in order to eavesdrop.

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    "However, she does seem unsure she is looking at the right house or in the right neighborhood because she is double checking her map - maybe some standard cat nervousness showing through?" Or, you know, she just didn't know where she was, and would have needed to check even if she was in human form. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 18:05
  • LOL! Yes, tis true @AnthonyGrist. Somehow she strikes me as otherwise always so sure of exactly where she is and why that as I was answering the question I had a thought that perhaps we were seeing a little of the "cat" within. I did say perhaps. HOwever, as it was an aside and really not necessary for making my point, I have removed it. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 20:55

No, but it alters the level of emotions

An Animagus is a witch or wizard who can transform at will into an animal. While in their animal form, they retain most of their ability to think as a human, their own sense of identity and their memories. They will also retain normal human life expectancy, even if they take their animal form for long periods of time. However, feelings and emotions are simplified and they will have many animal desires, feeding off whatever their animal body craves, rather than demanding human food.
Pottermore - Animagi (behind paywall)


No, they keep their human level of intelligence and reasoning.

Albus Dumbledore explains in his notes on “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump” that Animagi keep their human intelligence while transformed (unlike wizards who were Transfigured).

“Animagi do not retain the power of human speech while in their animal form, although they keep all their human thinking and reasoning powers. This, as every schoolchild knows, is the fundamental difference between being an Animagus and Transfiguring oneself into an animal. In the case of the latter, one would become the animal entirely, with the consequence that one would know no magic, be unaware that one had ever been a wizard, and would need somebody else to Transfigure one back to one’s original form.”
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard

So, Animagi do have their human level of intelligence. Their feelings are less acute, as shown by Sirius being able to evade the Dementors by turning into a dog, but their mind is intact.

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