Ask an Animal Specialist: The Diets of the Magical Creatures in the Series
This entry in our Potter food series discusses whether JKR was spot-on or a little off-the-mark with the kinds of food her characters fed their pets. Meet Danielle Dudash, a certified owner/trainer of Elysian Fields horses and veterinary technician, as well as a government-certified mustang trainer. We asked for her professional opinion about the diets of Hedwig, Crookshanks, etc., as fed to them by JKR’s roster of characters. Turns out: Voldemort wasn’t only succumbing to his dastardly whims by feeding Nagini the bodies of his enemies.
MuggleNet: Since you’re a horse and animal trainer extraordinaire, I wanted to recruit you to comment on the diets of owls and cats, within the context of the Harry Potter series, obviously.
Danielle Dudash: What can I help you with?
MN: In the books, Harry feeds Hedwig the dregs of his canned vegetable soup, toast, pumpkin juice, water, dead frogs, and owl nuts. Ron feeds Pigwidgeon owl treats as well.
DD: Harry feeding Hedwig any of those items listed above would be bad for the owl with the exception of the water and dead frogs. What are owl nuts? Owls are strictly carnivores and would eat any kind of insect, worm, bird or small mammal. Scabbers should have been looking pretty tasty! As for Pigwidgeon – did we ever establish what owl treats are? [Jasmine – I think they’re just the treats that taste good to owls and give them some sort of nutrients, à la dog treats.]
MN: Crookshanks eats spiders.
DD: Crookshanks eating spiders is kind of true. Like owls, cats are carnivores. But since he is mixed with Kneazle, it is possible for him to be able to survive on spiders. If he [were] a normal kitty, I could see him playing [with] the spider and ping-ponging the tiny creature across the room versus actually eating it.
MN: Hippogriffs eat ferrets.
DD: My assumption here is that this is perfectly normal that they would eat ferrets. The body of the hippogriff and the digestive system in which the animal was constructed upon would certainly survive on small mammals such as ferrets.
MN: Padfoot eats rats.
DD: Padfoot most definitely would eat a rat. Canines in the wild would love to find a rodent to snack on! Once again, Scabbers would be a gourmet meal for this creature! Is it me or is Scabbers the main diet of pretty much every animal in the wizarding world?
MN: The golden horses from Beauxbatons drink only single malt whiskey.
DD: If I [were] a golden horse and I had to choose what my diet would be, I hands down would agree with living off single malt whiskey! WHAT A LIFE! However, the reality of a horse being able to drink whiskey is a no-no. BUT! Horses can actually have beer. Many horses love the taste of beer, possibly because it consists of ingredients such as barley and hops, which resemble the grains in horse feeds. The alcoholic content is not a concern[ since] horses do not get drunk easily, if at all. And it doesn’t harm them or make them sick. There is an old saying[:] “Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.”
MN: Fang snacks on raw dragon meat.
DD: Fang: [G]o for it. Eat all the dragons you can possibly find. Good luck with that, though. The only dragons in the US nowadays are Dragonite and Dragonairs! However, dragons are similar to dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are technically chickens, millions of years later.
MN: Nagini eats humans.
DD: You know the scary part about Nagini? Pythons actually eat people. There are several records of pythons, constrictors, and anacondas alike that have eaten people. The size of Nagini could EASILY swallow Hagrid with little to no difficulty.