July 20th, 2011 at 5:00 am
Like many families, we’ve been immersed in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter since the beginning, and we’re feeling little nostalgic now that the final film has been released. People constantly ask my husband, the pet store owner, for blast-ended skrewts or one of the other creatures from Rowling’s rich imagination. In fact, it happens so often we’ve created a list of reasonable facsimiles. Here’s help if your child longs for a Potter pet:
Crookshanks — Hermione’s cat is described as large, bandy-legged and orange with a flat face; part cat, part magical ”Kneazle”. Sounds to us a lot like a ginger Longhair Persian.
Mrs. Norris — the hated cat/spy of Argus Filch was dust-colored and scrawny, with lamp-like yellow eyes. In the films, she was played by a Maine Coon, but those cats are large and stocky. If you really want a Mrs. Norris (but who would), check out a shelter for a “highly unpleasant cat”, as that is how Rowling described Mrs. Norris.
Scabbers — Despite the fact that Ron’s beloved pet rat turned out to be the horrid Peter Pettigrew, rats actually make excellent pets. Unlike street rats, pet rats (or fancy rats) are specifically bred to be docile and friendly. They are also really smart.
Nagini — The green tree python and green boa could be stand-ins for Voldemort’s huge snake Nagini, but they can be agressive and should only be kept by true snake hobbyists. A corn snake is a better choice for young snake fanciers.
Aragog — Hagrid’s giant arachnid friend terrified Ron, but some people keep tarantulas as pets. They are 3-6 inches long and can live up to 20 years.
Norbert(a) — Hagrid’s pet Norwegian Ridgeback dragon was pure fiction, but easy going Bearded Dragons makes a great first pet reptile. They don’t breathe fire, but they do puff out their spikey necks to ward of predators.
Hedwig — Harry’s loyal Snowy Owl does not make a good muggle pet; it’s illegal to keep any kind of owl as a pet without a special permit. The Umbrella Cockatoo is just as loyal and sports the same snowy white feathers as Hedwig.
The real animal world is full of even more wondrous creatures than those found in the pages of Harry Potter. Make a list of your favorite Potter beasties and see if you can find something similar at your local pet shop or zoo. But if you run into a giant three-headed dog who answers to the name of Fluffy, make sure you have your flute with you.