According to the book (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), the Basilisk roamed around in the castle's pipes, but the people who died or got petrified were at different parts of castle (not in pipes) when they were attacked by the snake.

Just wondering; How did the giant snake manage to pop out anywhere and attack when the only opening big enough was the one in Myrtle's bathroom.

  • It is also entirely possible that the snake in the book is enormous...length-wise, but is otherwise as thin and lithe as any other snake. It would certainly explain how it gets around so easily without getting detected, and would still be an incredibly deadly venemous beast that is a real immediate danger to any wizard.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 5, 2014 at 13:45

4 Answers 4


JKR never answered that; in the books, interviews (I searched entire Accio Quote) or Pottermore for Chamber of Secrets. The most the books have is Ron/Harry's understanding that Hermione wrote the word "Pipes" meaning that Basilisk used the pipes to move around the castle.

However, "the only opening big enough was Myrtle's bathroom" isn't really a fact, it's merely the entrance to the Chamber.

The architecture of Hogwarts is shown to be variable (shifting staircases, for one; Room of Requirement for another example); so it's plausible that Salazar Slytherin, one of the 4 founders, configured the pipe system to be able to open up wherever needed - since he already "programmed" that Basilisk will travel through the pipes by creating an official Chamber entrance in the girl's bathroom. That's just my personal speculation, not canon.

  • 2
    Yup. In the Potterverse, "because magic" is frequently a likely (if simplified) answer. Objects can squeeze into small spaces or react to other objects' passing by - think the Knight Bus in tiny alleys. It wouldn't be unheard of for the Chamber's architect to bewitch the plumbing at Hogwarts to do the same. Or, the basilisk could have its own power to do so.
    – hairboat
    Feb 3, 2014 at 13:41
  • @AbbyT.Miller - that's not entirely fair to JKR. Specfically in Potterverse, the author was/is very liberal with behind the scenes details fleshing out (or ret-conning, if you prefer :) the issues and questions that arise. They may all of course be summed up with "because magic" but they are frequently a lot more detailed than that. Feb 3, 2014 at 14:18
  • 2
    Oh god. I'm defending JKR. UGH. I'll go post that Han would never shoot first, or something... "because Midichlorians" Feb 3, 2014 at 14:19
  • I didn't mean it as a slight against JKR. I just meant that in a magical world, the answer to many puzzles is magical. Often it's very complicated and detailed magic, but still magic nonetheless.
    – hairboat
    Feb 3, 2014 at 14:32
  • 1
    @AbbyT.Miller - we'll see how that works out when Disney releases THEIR version of ANH... I'm thinking Han will use whatever Mikey-Mouse version of ACME hammer is. Feb 3, 2014 at 14:36

The Basilisk has killed Myrtle right in the bathroom with the opening of the chamber, and has Petrified Mrs Norris close to the same bathroom.

As much as I like Colin Creevey, I believe he got Petrified when he was out in the corridors at night when students are not normally allowed to leave their common room and dormitories. This means that at that time the corridors of the castle were mostly empty, which is why the Basilisk could come out mostly unnoticed.

After Colin got petrified, the students are no longer allowed to walk in the corridors freely even during the day, they must be accompanied by a teacher. This makes the castle mostly empty except between classes, so the Basilisk could easily move on the corridors to get to the next four victims.

  • 1
    This is a very good answer. To further confirm it, I'd like to mention how Hermione was found: with a mirror in her hand. She was using that mirror to check for the Basilisk around the corner, which verifies the theory in this answer that the Basilisk was travelling via corridors, and only (or mostly) used pipes to get between the Chamber of Secrets and the girls' bathroom. Nov 3, 2014 at 13:18

The basilisk was probably traveling via corridors, and only came out of the Chamber when it was safe and no students were around. It used the pipes to travel from the Chamber into the girls' bathroom (as seen in the films, they were large enough). Its whispers probably traveled through the pipes (via air) and that's why Harry could hear it speak through the walls during the plot. For other students, it either sounded like normal wind and rattles that old buildings naturally make, or maybe it was so quiet that, without understanding the meaning, it went unnoticed.


Please note that in the movies, whenever Harry found someone attacked in the corridors, there always was this great wet/slimey trail (as broad as the Basilisk) on the floor just behind the spot of attack. So the theory that it did come out of the Toilets into the corridors is verified!

  • 3
    To make this answer even better, would it be possible to add a picture of one such scene?
    – Mithical
    Jul 24, 2017 at 7:04

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