In ancient world mythology, Hippogriffs were considered to be the ancient magical creatures that were offsprings of griffins (or gryphons) and mares. They resemble griffins and eagles, in that they have long wings, claws with talons attached to them, tails of horses and a head of a giant eagle. However, the rest of their body resembles that of a horse, owing to their mare parentage. Hippogriffs differed from griffins in that their rears resembled horses rather than lions. Hippogriff is a legendary creature that exists even in ancient world mythology outside the Harry Potter Universe and is believed to be a hybrid of the griffin and the mare, just like in the Harry Potter books.
Hippogriff Magical Beast Profile
- Colour of Hair and Feathers: Stormy Grey, Chestnut, Pinkish roan, Inky black, Bronze
- Color of Eyes: Bright Orange
- Bred from: Griffins and Mares
- Endemic to: Great Britain
The term Hippogriff is derived from “Hippos”, the Greek word for “Horse” and from Griffin, since the Hippogriff is the offspring of a griffin and a mare.
Appearance and Behaviour
Hippogriffs are considered to be proud creatures and require some time to warm up to other species like humans. Only a well-trained witch or wizard could tame a Hippogriff easily, and they were wild animals with fierce reactions when insulted or improperly handled.
Hippogriffs are half horse, half eagle, and have the upper body and the head of an eagle. When they fly, they resemble giant eagles when seen from afar. Their hind legs look like the hooves of horses, but their front legs resemble that of a giant eagle and have talons. They have the tail of a horse, bright orange eyes, and silver-colored metallic-looking beaks. They had shiny gleaming coats which looked very vibrant in the sunlight.
Hippogriffs ate insects or birds, and sometimes they also ate small mammals and rodents which included ferrets. In the absence of their usual diet, Hippogriffs are also known to dig into the ground and collect worms to feed on. Hippogriff nests were built on the ground and they laid a single egg. Hippogriff eggs took around 24 hours to hatch. The baby Hippogriff would be capable of flight within a week and would try flying early for short distances.
How to Approach a Hippogriff?
Hippogriffs are very proud creatures, and equally wild and dangerous. Therefore, proper etiquette must be maintained when one tries to approach, tame or befriend a Hippogriff. It is believed that Hippogriffs should be allowed to make the first move of approaching, which is why a witch or wizard must only go near the Hippogriff and bow at it while keeping the eye contact intact, without blinking.
If the Hippogriff bows back, it is a sign of consent for the wizard or witch to pet or tame it. However, despite all these severe steps required to gain the respect and trust of a Hippogriff, once attained, Hippogriffs are very loyal and protect the people they care about very fiercely.
Appearance in the Harry Potter Series
Hippogriffs are first introduced in the Harry Potter series in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In the first class for Care of Magical Creatures, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Rubeus Hagrid introduces them to the third-year students. He then asks any one of the students to come forward to pet one of the Hippogriffs, Buckbeak. While most students are scared to try, Harry, to boost the morale of Hagrid, decides to try it. He does a great job with the etiquette that Hagrid explains and eventually, Buckbeak warms up to Harry.
However, Draco Malfoy insults Buckbeak and eventually gets attacked. He makes it a serious issue by telling his father Lucius Malfoy who in turn complains in the Ministry leading to a death sentence being issued to Buckbeak. At the end of the book, however, Harry and Hermione go back in time with the help of a time-turner and save both Buckbeak and the wrongfully accused Sirius Black.
The next appearance of a Hippogriff is again that of Buckbeak when he is seen in Sirius’s house. Sirius hides him in his mother’s bedroom at Twelve Grimmauld Place. There are several other appearances that Buckbeak makes in the Harry Potter series, including the time he protects Harry by charging at Snape during the Battle at the Astronomy Tower, and the time he leads a herd of thestrals to attack the Death Eaters in the Battle of Hogwarts.
Buckbeak only appears in some books of the Harry Potter series, and Hippogriffs in general do not make many appearances other than Buckbeak. Buckbeak is crucial to the plot of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as it is he who flies off Sirius Black to safety.
The Flight of the Hippogriff – An Analysis
There is a lot of depth one could go to with sound research in Aerodynamics and Bird and Animal Anatomy to explain how a Hippogriff could fly. Firstly Hippogriffs are mythical beings and therefore, the flight of these creatures is not necessarily a problem for science to solve. However, if speculated, one major problem is that of a Hippogriff being half griffin and half mare, with several qualities of a lion, horse, and an eagle interwoven into one.
Flight might be considered slightly difficult to achieve for an animal this heavy because their bone structure is different from that of avians (birds). But then again, it is not far-fetched either, given their large wingspan and the fact there existed several dinosaurs (possibly much heavier than Hippogriffs) that possessed the ability of flight.
Are Griffin and Hippogriff the same thing?
No, Griffin and Hippogriff are two different mythical creatures from Greek Mythology that are believed to have existed in ancient times. However, Hippogriffs are closely related to Griffins because they are bred by crossing Griffins and Mares. Hippogriffs resemble Griffins and have several of the features that Griffins have inherited from eagles. However very little of the Hippogriff’s features resemble a lion, unlike a Griffin. Also, while there is a mention of the Griffins in the Harry Potter series, they are never explicitly seen in the books, unlike Hippogriffs.
Is a Hippogriff a real mythical creature?
Yes, the Hippogriff was a mythical creature that was mentioned first in the works of the ancient Latin poet Virgil and continued to make appearances in various works of literature. It is highly unlikely that the Hippogriff was a real creature though and is considered by many to have been an important mythical creature that resembled its close relative, the Griffin in several respects.
What powers do Hippogriffs have?
Hippogriffs are said to have the ability of the enhanced leap, owing to their strong hind legs derived from their mare ancestry. They also have the ability to fly like the Griffin and eagles and are also known to possess an enhanced sense of smell, hearing, and vision. They are also extremely strong and fly for very long distances, even when ridden by humans.