Welcome to the fourth lesson of the year! Today, Professor Cattercorn and I will discuss two interesting creatures: Plimpies and Golden Snidgets. As a friendly reminder, your midterms are coming up next week, so make sure to take the time to study the creatures and content that has been covered thus far. This year your midterm will be different than what you have become accustomed to. Keep that in mind while you study! Like always, feel free to owl myself or Professor Cattercorn with any questions. With that out of the way, let’s begin the lesson with my discussion of Plimpies.
Plimpies are an aquatic beast, but one of the mildest you will ever encounter. They are only classified as XXX because they are seen as pests to Merpeople, and bothering other more important creatures actually can affect how a creature is classified.The Plimpy is a small fish that has two legs. They are very round and plump. If you have ever been in a lake barefoot, and have felt something nipping at your feet or clothes, it was probably a Plimpy. It also might’ve been a leech, however that is a topic for another time! To come back from that tangent, plimpies are native all across the world, but are most often found in Europe, and in parts of North America because they were imported in 2005, to help deal with infestations in certain lakes in the Southwest.
Plimpies come in all colors, with the most popular being the green and black variety pictured above. This causes them to blend in well among the plant life of the deep lakes they reside in. They are strictly freshwater creatures, so if you feel something nibbling on you in the ocean, I highly advise you head back to shore. They feed along the surface, eating water bugs, plants, and algae. Because Plimpies have no teeth, they swallow their food whole. Plimpies are four inches long, and three inches of that is their legs. They have a large dorsal fin on their head, and a smaller pelvic fin situated between their legs. Below is a drawn depiction of a Plimpy while it is swimming. Notice how the legs extend completely out.
Notice that this depiction shows the Plimpy as having a rather large dorsal fin, and an added set of pectoral fins. This is considered a rare mutation that occurs once a very select incident happens. We will get to that incident shortly, I promise! Now, onto the lifecycles. The easiest way to tell a male Plimpy from a female is by the size of the dorsal fin. Male dorsal fins are so large they sweep back as the Plimpy swims, like in the depiction above. A female’s dorsal fin is more like a spike, like the first picture provided today. Breeding occurs every spring, usually between March and May. In times of a long winter, this breeding season can last as late as July. For breeding, the male Plimpy comes upon the female, using his legs to hold her still while he does the deed. Plimpies lay eggs, which they keep in large water bubbles right below the surface. These nests are often situated along a rock or plant, to make sure the eggs don’t float away with the current. This large nest of eggs is often called a spawn. Exactly fifteen days after being laid, the eggs will hatch. A female Plimpy will have between five and ten Plimpols, or baby Plimpies.
As the Plimpols develop, they have to grow their legs. It takes roughly two months, or eight weeks, for their legs to develop. In the image above, you can see depictions of the egg, which is actually white, the Plimpol when it is born, and when the Plimpol has grown legs. After another month, for an age of three months, the Plimpol becomes a Plimpy as its legs have reached their adult size. The body will grow slightly over time, but the legs are the main part of their physical anatomy.
Plimpies live in groups called colonies. There is no maximum number of Plimpies that live in a colony. The largest recorded number of Plimpies in a colony was in Scotland, with over 2,000 Plimpies. The magizoologists to make the discovery, Luna Lovegood and Rolf Scamander, used magically enlarged fish bowls to hold the Plimpies as they pulled them out of the water for counting purposes. No Plimpies were harmed during the counting. Lovegood and Scamander discovered this colony in 2002. This was not the only information to come to light that year, but again, that story will come in due time.
Now, I did mention that Merpeople consider Plimpies to be pests. As such, Merpeople have their own methods of handling the creature. As the creature swims by, they grab it by the legs and tie them in a knot. With no way to navigate, the Plimpy simply floats until someone unties its leg, or until they come loose after enough struggling on the Plimpy’s part. As you might recall, Merpeople reside in the Black Lake, or Great Lake, on the Hogwarts grounds. While we try to keep the Plimpy populations to a minimum, so the Merpeople aren’t angered, some manage to slip into the lake. If you ever see a Plimpy bobbing out in the Black Lake, or any lake for that matter, with its legs tied together, take a moment and untie their legs. They will cooperate for this, so there is no need to use a spell other than to summon them over if they are upstream.
Now, I did say I had a story to tell. I am sure all of you remember the Gulping Plimpy, often advertised in The Quibbler and by Xenophilius and Luna Lovegood. This creature was believed to be like other strange creature the Lovegoods discussed: nonexistent. However, while on an expedition with several other magizoologists, Luna Lovegood and Scamander discovered the following creature while walking along a stream.
Notice how this creature is very similar to the Plimpy, but has two differences: teeth and large eyes. My friends, this is a Gulping Plimpy. They do indeed exist, officially recognized in 2003 by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. They are Beasts with an XXX classification. The magizoologists credited with the discovery are Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna Lovegood, and Rolf Scamander. The process of accepting a new creature is rather tedious. It starts by a report being submitted for official consideration. Everything that is known to that point needs to be included in the report. Now, the Department for the Regulation and Control requires the following pieces of evidence to recognize a new species: at least five eyewitnesses that have seen the creature on at least three occasions; both live and dead carcasses for study, and statements by the witnesses under Veritaserum to confirm that it was found, rather than created. This process can take anywhere from six months to up to two years, depending on how long the Department takes in studying the new creature. In the case of the Gulping Plimpy, it took about a year to be accepted because the Department wanted to ensure that it was indeed a new species, and not merely a mutation of the Plimpy. This should go to show all of you that new magical creatures are always appearing in our world, and to never write someone off simply because you have yet to see what they see.
Gulping Plimpies are seen as slightly more concerning than their relatives, simply because of their teeth. Though Gulping Plimpy bites are not deadly, nor does the creature contain any type of toxin or venom, the bites will give off a bright blue glow for a few hours. It is best to treat them with a simple healing paste after being bitten, and the bite will heal within 48 hours. Gulping Plimpies, and regular Plimpies alike, can indeed be repelled by Gurdyroots, if you are that concerned, or are trying to communicate with the Merpeople in the area.
Now, the Lovegoods are not only known for the discovery of Gulping Plimpies, they are known for their Freshwater Plimpy Soup. They use the term freshwater to assert it is the regular Plimpy and not the Gulping Plimpy that is being used in the recipe. Once the discovery of the Gulping Plimpy was announced, many who once thought the Lovegoods were a little wrong in the head changed their views, and as a result, started listening to other things the pair have mentioned. Their recipe for Freshwater Plimpy Soup has become very popular in the Wizarding world, and is actually featured on a page every month in The Quibbler. I have included the page for your reference.
I would now like to turn the lesson over to Professor Cattercorn to discuss Golden Snidgets.
Thank you Professor Anne! Now, we will be moving right along with the next half of our lecture. Golden Snidgets are our next topic. I’m sure a lot of you will find that name familiar; I know the Quidditch players definitely do! If you have enjoyed learning about magical birds over the previous years, I’m certain you will love what I have planned for discussion today. The Golden Snidget is an endangered animal; we will see why later. But first, let’s take a look at the bird’s appearance.
This beautiful creature is classified as a Beast with an XXXX rating. They have a spherical body shape and golden feathers, with bright red eyes. These creatures do not grow to be very large. The largest fully grown adult I have seen was about a foot tall (30 centimeters). However, an average adult will be about 6 to 7 inches (around 16 centimeters). A newly hatched Snidget, we call them Nuggets in the field, is only about one inch tall (2.54 cm). Golden Snidgets don’t stay completely golden for their entire lives. When they are born, their long, thin beaks will be entirely gold like the rest of their body. As they age, the color of their beaks will gradually darken each year, until they are entirely black in adulthood. Their wings are able to rotate a full 360 degrees, making them very fast fliers. This also made them very popular for sports.
I bet some of you are remembering back to when I mentioned Quidditch when I first began speaking today. The reason I brought up this popular sport is because the Golden Snidget has a serious history in the game. The name of the bird sounds quite a bit like the “Golden Snitch” doesn’t it? This relation is because the Golden Snidget was used before the Snitch was invented. Snidgets were first used in 1269. The practice was begun by then Chief of the Wizards’ Council, Barberus Bragge. He released the bird in the middle of a game and told the players that whoever could first catch it would be rewarded with 150 Galleons. Seeing this as inhumane, a woman named Modesty Rabnott used a Summoning Charm on the Snidget. She quickly left the Quidditch pitch, with the bird hidden in the front of her robes. She then released the Snidget into the wild so that it would not have to face a dreadful fate. Barberus Bragge noted her protest, however, Golden Snidgets continued to be used for sport. This practice went on for approximately a hundred years, until Elfrida Clagg became Chief of the Wizards’ Council. She noticed that the population of Snidgets were becoming considerably low. She banned the use of Snidgets for recreational use, and declared them a protected species. (Lucky for the sports industry, the Golden Snitch was invented shortly thereafter.) However, it is important to note that Quidditch wasn’t the only thing driving these birds to extinction.
Beginning in the early 1100s, there were a lot of witches and wizards who enjoyed hunting Golden Snidgets. There are not many today because the species is endangered, but back then the northern region of Europe was highly populated with Snidgets. They were hunted recreationally. Witches and wizards would try to catch Snidgets with their wands, a net, or even their hands. If this wasn’t disturbing enough, they were often collected and used for their eyes and feathers. A Golden Snidget’s eyes and feathers are very valuable - many people liked to sell them or use them in jewellry. Hunting Snidgets caused a real problem for the species’ existence because not only were people killing them for their parts, but many of them were crushed by accident. Those who would catch a Golden Snidget with their hands would instantly kill the bird. Golden Snidgets are small and fragile, and any handling that is not as gentle as possible will cause serious injury or death. These actions, combined with how Quidditch used to use them, caused the species to become endangered. This is why Elfrida Clagg banned any kind of use of Snidgets.
However, Snidgets are still poached to this day. Many hunters will try to lure them or catch them and use them as snitches. And there are still those who try to catch them to use them for their eyes or feathers. Because of poachers, they are still considered an endangered species.
Has anyone yet wondered to themselves why the Golden Snidget is given an XXXX rating? They seem pretty harmless, if not helpless, don’t you think? These creatures are not built to fight off predators or poachers. Their speed is what keeps them away from danger. So if these birds are not dangerous, then why the XXXX classification? The reason is this: the capture or injury of a Snidget by a witch or wizard will result in major penalties. Anyone found mistreating this endangered species will receive fines by the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Should you ever suspect someone of poaching these creature, it is best to confide in someone first, like a professor or friend, to help you determine if your thoughts are correct. False accusations are looked down upon, and waste the Department’s time and energy.
Luckily, there are precautions being made to help protect the Golden Snidget population. Elfrida Clagg started a sanctuary for Golden Snidgets called the Modesty Rabnott Snidget Reservation. This sparked more people to create reservations for the creatures all around the world today.
Injured or previously captured Snidgets typically live on these reservations until they are safe to be released into the wild. The employees who work there are mainly volunteers, though certain magizoologists are typically hired to help care for the birds. They are fairly docile creatures, though their fragility doesn’t make them the easiest creatures to nurse back to health. They eat small insects and nectar. The Golden Snidget has a very high metabolism due to its very fast and nearly constant flight, so they eat quite a bit. Food is always available to the birds at the reservations, as they are grazers and don’t have specific feeding times. For the wild Snidgets, wizarding families will often leave out feeders of nectar or sugar water for them to enjoy. In fact, they will often go to visit the feeders of Muggle homes as well. Don’t worry, they are far too fast for the Muggle eye to see!
Golden Snidgets are typically loners. That is, until it comes to mating. The males always seek out the female bird. Once a male finds a female he wishes to mate with, he will make his appeal by puffing out his chest feathers and then moving his head from side to side. If the female is acceptive of the male, she will spread her tail feathers. Once the two have mated, they will go their separate ways, and the female will begin her work on a nest. She will make a nest out of branches, leaves, and spider silk. Once the nest is completed, the female Snidget will lay two to three golf ball sized golden eggs. The eggs will be incubated for 10 to 16 days, and once the Nuggets hatch, they stay in the nest for 19 to 23 days. They will then fly from the nest, and begin their own journey. The average lifespan of a Snidget is around five to seven years.
Should you ever need to keep a Golden Snidget, for enjoyment or to be a feather supplier without poaching, you should buy a simple Muggle parakeet cage. The bars will be close enough together that the Snidget cannot escape, but large enough for them to enjoy some space. It is best to provide fresh flowers daily, even several times a day, to keep nectar plentiful. Some breeders will even provide bird seed, to help change up the creatures diets. Beetles, like those bought for potions, can also be purchased to feed to them, if your Snidget prefers more insects than nectar. Many breeders become associated with a reservation. So retired breeding birds have a safe place to go and live out their lives.
That’s it for today everyone! I hope you enjoyed learning about the creatures we discussed. Next time I will see you all to discuss a very special creature. Don’t forget about your homework, and have a lovely day everyone.
All pictures are found using the Google Images search engine, and belong to their owners. The Quibbler page was made by Professor Anne using others images.