First seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and first introduced to us by Hagrid as an assignment in the Care of Magical Creatures class (Goblet of Fire). So mischievous but undeniably cute, the Niffler would become an instant hit among Harry Potter fans…but I asked myself: Would I really want to have one as a pet? So, I did some research into these fantastic creatures, as well as the animals we can find in our world…
Niffler Quick Facts:
- Fluffy, black fur; a long, fleshy, duck-billed shaped snout; long claws on the front feet for digging (5 toes on all four feet); and a short stubby tail.
- Fossorial: living in tunnels and burrows up to 20 ft deep
- Found: UK & Europe
- Gentle & affectionate, but also agile & obsessive about anything shiny & sparkly; however destructive to belongings and an owner’s home (classified XXX by N.Scamander, for competent wizards)
- Produce 6-8 young in a litter, and has a marsupial pouch
- Diet: Varied
- Often kept by goblins, to burrow into the earth to find treasures
So here’s some questions I’ve been mulling over:
- What did Nifflers collect before goblins or wizards discovered them? Just shiny rocks, shells, gemstones…
- Were they created from animals we already have, like echidnas, platypuses, moles?
- How are they smelling or detecting gold, gemstones, and other shiny, sparkly things?
With all that said, let’s look at the similar looking animals, that are truly just amazing creatures!
Echidnas, aka the Spiny Anteater, aka Puggles (like this super cute, super perfect looking Niffler!!! 😍)
- Found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea
- Have electroreceptors in their snouts, looking for the electrical signals produced by the muscles of invertebrates, like ants and termites.
- They shelter in burrows or caves, and use their spines that cover their body to help protect themselves from predators.
- There are 3 species that are deemed Critically Endangered by the IUCN due to hunting and habitat loss.
- An aquatic animal with fur like an otter, webbed feet, and a beaver-like tail. When scientists first discovered this creature, they thought it was a hoax!
- They use their sensitive bill to detect the electrical signals given off by their prey items, like insects, worms, shellfish, and crustaceans.
- Males have venomous spurs on their back feet! But they can use their front feet to dig burrows along the edge of the rivers and streams they live in.
- Near Threatened species, by IUCN standards, due to habitat loss.
Another bizarre thing about these animals, is that they lay eggs. They are mammals, but lay leathery eggs like many reptiles. They will lay 1-2 eggs, place them in a temporary pouch, and the young will hatch out using an egg tooth (just like reptiles!). With that, these mothers don’t have the usual mammary glands that most mammals have, but instead they “sweat” out milk for the babies to lap up. Wow! 😲
These are truly fantastic beasts! So how similar might Nifflers be to echidnas and platypuses? Laying eggs? Venomous spurs on their feet? Do the Nifflers detect gold and gemstones, like the echidnas and platypuses detect electrical signals from their prey? What do Nifflers eat?! 🤷🏻♀️
In conclusion…there’s no conclusion to this yet! I have other animals to look at and didn’t want to write a huge blog. Haha, so I’ll break this discussion/thought process into a couple of blogs. Add comments or questions, because I would also like to turn this into a podcast discussion. 🙌😁
Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you about Nifflers, Puggles, and Platypus!
Photo Credits: the Fantastic Beasts movie; ZooBorns; stoppress.co.nz