Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.

Newt Scamander may have opened up his case full of "Fantastic Beasts" this week, but here in the non-wizarding world, we've got some of our own. Behold our favourite real-life counterparts to J.K. Rowling's latest cohort of fanciful creatures.


Because they fancy all things shiny, Nifflers make particularly good treasure hunters. The British beasts are most notably used as metal detectors by gold-hungry goblins.

Image: Warner Bros. Studios

They might not have such sticky fingers, but platypuses are equally good at seeking. These duck-billed, egg-laying mammals are equipped with electroreception, a skill that allows them to locate prey in deep, silty water. No other mammal possesses it! To boot, the hair on their backs is hard and bristled, which helps the strange creatures excavate burrows. This gives the platypus a "feathered" appearance, much like Niffler's. And with its mole-like clawed feet, an extinct platypus-relative called Steropodon looked even more like Rowling's thieving creation! 

Image: Healesville Wildlife Santuary/YouTube


In the "Wizarding World", a Bowtruckle is a small, twig-like tree guardian. The insect-eaters can be found in western England, southern Germany and certain Scandinavian forests, where they guard trees that produce wand-quality wood.

Image: Warner Bros. Studios

Our world has stick insects of its own, and while most of us are familiar with brown walking sticks, many of their nymphs are a brilliant green. 


Of course, Scamander's personal Bowtruckle, "Pickett", is also a leaf mimic, much like true leaf insects in the family Phylliidae. Rather than fairy eggs and insects, these camouflage champions feed on fruit and other plant material.

Image: ViralVideoUK/YouTube


A close relative of the phoenix, the Thunderbird has wings powerful enough to create storms as they beat. These avian giants are native to the arid deserts of Arizona. 

Image: Warner Bros. Studios

Though they prefer forest habitat, harpy eagles share something with their fantastic counterparts: they're incredible hunters. The birds, whose wingspans can reach a whopping 6.5 feet (2m) across, feed on everything from monkeys and sloths to deer, snakes and iguanas. In the film, we see Scamander chop up a chicken for "Frank", a Thunderbird he rescued from poachers. This suggests that like the harpy, Rowling's bird prefers meaty meals.

The bone-splitting talons of a harpy can exert several hundred pounds of pressure, and while the birds can't summon thunder, they can clock an impressive 50 miles per hour (80kph).

Image: Rainforest Expeditions/YouTube


Because the Billywig is so fast, it is rarely seen by Muggles (non-magical humans, called "No-Maj" by American wizards). The tiny, Australian bug measures just half an inch (1.25cm), but its sting is serious business. Billywig venom causes euphoric symptoms and giddiness, followed by uncontrollable levitation.

Image: Warner Bros. Studios

The whizzing bug's brilliant colouration lends itself to flights of fancy, but we've got a sapphire blue insect of our own: the orchid bee! Also known as euglossine bees, members of this group come in an amazing array of shapes and colours (most commonly blue, green, red and gold). Orchid bees are found only in the Americas, and there are some 200 different species. That metallic sheen comes from layers of light-bending chitin, the same material that gives the sea mouse its rainbow hue.

Image: Smithsonian Channel/YouTube


The Diricawl is a ground-dwelling bird native to Mauritius. When danger is near, the beast can vanish and reappear elsewhere in a puff of colourful feathers. Because of its disappearing antics, Muggles hunted the species – which they came to call the Dodo bird – for sport.

Image: Warner Bros. Studios

Over in the Himalayan mountains, lives a bird that could take on the Diricawl in a fashion walk-off. A stunningly colourful member of the pheasant family, the Himalayan monal is the national bird of Nepal. And though its very much of this world, it's not a creature that's easy to spot: if you want to find a monal, you'll have to climb thousands of metres to reach its preferred lofty habitat. 

Image: Subhajit Chaudhuri/YouTube