I think the first time we see an animal or supposedly living being created by a spell in Harry Potter is when Harry and his friends are in the Transfigurations class and Professor McGonagall turns her desk into a pig and back into a desk. There's also a reference, in the same scene, that Harry realizes it'll be a while before the students are changing furniture into animals.

I don't remember reading anything in the books (but a few of mine have been loaned out and haven't come back for months and months!), but wondered if there was anything elsewhere, from JKR or other somewhat authoritative sources about whether animals created by transfigurations or by other spells are actually alive.

Are they full biologically complete versions of the animals? If so, do they have the same sense of awareness of an authentic version of the same animal?

I can't remember whether or not I read somewhere that spells can't create life. If that is the case, then what drives the behavior in an animal created by a spell?


2 Answers 2


Here's what Tales of Beedle the Bard has to say about it:

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.)

Tales of Beedle the Bard - Page 83 - Bloomsbury Edition

I think pure animal instinct of the particular animal a person is transfigured into would drive the animal's behavior. I believe an animal created by transfiguration would be fully alive.

I believe the spell Avis creates a flock of birds that come out from the caster's wand with a loud bang. Serpensortia conjures a snake. There is a spell that will cause person to grow antlers, but not turn into a full deer or moose or whatever; no name for that spell is listed for the books. Barrufio will conjure buffaloes. Hannah Abbot accidentally conjures a flock of flamingoes during her O.W.L. examinations. Animals conjured out of thin air will not last, meaning they won't be permanently around. They somehow dissipate. A witch or wizard transfigured into an animal runs the risk of getting stuck in the animal form forever, as they are reliant upon someone else to untransfigure them. The homorphus charm will turn a transfigured animal or an animagus back into human form.

I don't suppose Dudley and his piggy tail counts as transfiguration on Hagrid's part? ;) Let's give a shout out to Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret!

  • Did you find anything that would say if a witch or wizard who was transformed into an animal, then back to human would remember anything about what it was like while they were an animal, or does the loss of memory go both ways?
    – Tango
    Jan 5, 2012 at 19:02
  • I don't recall a specific reference to that in the books, but in Goblet of Fire when McGonagall untransfigures Draco from his ferret state, he's pretty angry and humiliated and starts muttering about his father -- presumably "My father will hear about this!" ;) It's possible Draco had recall of being a ferret. Jan 5, 2012 at 19:09
  • I wasn't clear, on that instance, if he remembered the experience of the transfiguration (either to a ferret or back) or remembered being a ferret.
    – Tango
    Jan 5, 2012 at 19:12
  • It's not explicitly stated, but Draco was aware something had happened to him. Here's the quote: Malfoy, whose pale eyes were still watering with pain and humiliation, looked malevolently up at Moody and muttered something in which the words ‘my father’ were distinguishable. He may have remembered being a ferret. What's odd to me, though, is that he reacts - while a ferret - to Moody approaching him; he knows to fear Moody. it would seem that he shouldn't have any memory of being a wizard, so no reason to either fear Moody or know to make a run for the dungeons (where Slytherin is located) Jan 6, 2012 at 15:48
  • I have a huge problem with this one... so if Krum succeeded in transfiguring himself into a shark, would he be stuck? And in reverse, is transfiguring a human into a chair effectively killing him (or making him stuck for millenia?)
    – orion
    Mar 23, 2015 at 13:56

Personally, I like to think that conjured animals are not alive in the true sense. I think they resemble animals but only give the illusion of life - like an animation.

  • 2
    On what are you basing this answer?
    – Valorum
    Jan 13, 2015 at 17:44
  • -1, Not to be rude, but unless you are JKR, your personal feelings on the matter constitute a poor answer.
    – mikeazo
    Jan 13, 2015 at 20:36

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