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Werewolves and non-human prey - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Werewolves and non-human prey
In Shades, I've been having Remus hunt with Greyback's wolves, and eating things like rabbits and so on. Abruptly, I realized, "Oops, he shouldn't be doing that, or the animagi experiment wouldn't make sense." So I retconned by implying that he was wrong about the belief that he was no danger to other people--that he had a false sense of security, and hadn't eaten anything before, which was how he continued to believe it--and was reminded that he said he "hadn't eaten anything" (not "anyone") transformed the night he transformed on the grounds in PoA, implying that it's a comparison to nights when he has eaten something.

Anyway, how about a consensus... What's the deal with werewolves and non-human prey?

When it comes to non-human prey...

Werewolves have no interest in it, and do not hunt it.
21(10.7%)
Werewolves will eat if they're hungry--like real wolves--but don't crave it as they do humans.
100(51.0%)
Werewolves will eat regularly transformed, but other animals don't have to worry about being cursed by a bite, just being eaten.
49(25.0%)
Werewolves will go after anything not too big for them.
22(11.2%)
Other (explain)
4(2.0%)
35 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
ashtur From: ashtur Date: March 20th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Considering that Remus "hung out" for years with a stag, I can't see him going after "normal" game animals at all. Unless you want to say that MWPP made sure to keep him well fed before they went out.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was basically what I argued in "The Most Haunted Dwelling in Britain"--that they made a habit of seriously feeding him up before going out. Plus James and Sirius are presumably big enough to control him. But the logic wasn't holding together very well.
elinevere From: elinevere Date: March 20th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that's a no-go, otherwise he'd have started nibbling on Wormtail's tail years ago. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it was Wormtail who freaked a bit in my story when he found out Remus had been eating mice. ;p
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: March 20th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I see most of the voters are interested in helping you retcon to save your fic. :-D I agree; it seems logical that werewolves would eat something if they're hungry...it's fanon that they'll chomp on themselves if confined, isn't it?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nah, it's canon that without humans to attack, they'll hurt themselves, but that's an experience when they're confined. Unconfined with normal prey animals? Not sure. The argument in favor of it is that Remus says that he didn't eat anything that night, which sounds like a comparison to nights when he may have.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: March 20th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
My understanding is that both 2 and 3 are what's going on in canon: werewolves will eat non-humans, although they prefer humans, but they can only turn other humans into werewolves (i.e., Animagi are immune to a werewolf bite.)
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 20th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
By all means be sure to tell me if I'm way out there with what I'm going to say. My reasoning for it to be logical that Remus didn't eat prey of whatever size while with James and Co. is along the lines of what he said in ... PoA, was it? He said that having his friends with him made his mind remain "almost human" - a bit like what the Wolfsbane potion is supposed to do. If you add to that the fact that Hogwarts children are exceptionally well fed (Harry must have had what was his first decent meal in years in his Welcoming feast), then the need to eat is really not there. Most werewolves aren't half as lucky.

As far as size is concerned, I'm a little confused. If werewolves only went after prey equal or smaller in size ... Why would Hagrid have to worry about Buckbeak? Surely as the Magical Creatures expert he'd have known.

brightcukettles From: brightcukettles Date: March 21st, 2006 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, Hagrid isn't exactly known to be logical when it comes to his precious creatures! ::coughnorbertcough::
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: March 20th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that that could be the difference between an Animagus and a transfigured person. You can transfigure someone into an animal, but they remain essentially human - and would be infected if bitten - but an Animagus is forcing themselves into another species - Sirius says he has different emotions as a dog. So then to all intents and purposes he is a dog - and wo immune to lycanthropy. After all, Padfoot and Prongs must have had to grapple with the wolf at times, and they would have known there was a very real chance of getting bitten.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 20th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Fantastic Beasts book says "Almost uniquely among fantastic creatures, the werewolf actively seeks humans in preference to any other kind of prey" which rather implies that they do go after other prey sometimes. However, if Remus said he didn't eat anything the whole night in PoA, it's perhaps not that common -- hence option (b) above sounds about right. (I think we'll have to discount Hagrid's comment here -- the idea of a wolf being able to catch and eat a horse-sized creature with sharp beak and claws is a little unlikely. :D And then again, I tend to imagine Wolfsbane would be cumulative, so if he'd previously had doses that week he might have had some control.)

Then again, FB also says "they transform into savage, four-legged beasts of murderous intent and no human conscience" which is difficult to square with the suggestion in HBP that werewolves aim to infect, not to kill. I got the very strong impression from HBP that JKR herself was retconning werewolf lore!

Somebody below mentioned that Remus found himself 'less wolfish' when with his friends in animal form, so that might be the best explanation for why he didn't try to eat them. (It might also be interesting if the same effect occurred with the pack!)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
the idea of a wolf being able to catch and eat a horse-sized creature with sharp beak and claws is a little unlikely

Not to mention wings and the ability to take off!

I'd forgotten that Hagrid was worried about Buckbeak. That by itself suggests that werewolves will attack non-humans. (Probably not a hippogriff, but no one corrected Hagrid to say, "Um, I know you think of Buckbeak as a person, but, really, he's not human...") And Hagrid knows his magical creatures, if nothing else.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: March 20th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Then again, FB also says "they transform into savage, four-legged beasts of murderous intent and no human conscience" which is difficult to square with the suggestion in HBP that werewolves aim to infect, not to kill. I got the very strong impression from HBP that JKR herself was retconning werewolf lore!

Indeed, although I think you can work around it by assuming werewolves are endowed with two separate and warring instincts -- to kill and to procreate -- and usually the latter takes precedence. It might even be the case that a lone werewolf is "programmed" to create others of its kind, while a larger pack of them will aim to kill (there are enough of them already, and it's not to their advantage to create additional competition).

Neat. I like this theory.

BTW, fernwithy, why do transformed werewolves have a mating instinct in your world? It doesn't seem like a particularly useful instinct, since that isn't actually the means by which they reproduce...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why do people who don't want children have a sex instinct? I guess any animal is "programmed" with that particular drive. And it's definitely domination sex, so it's the urge to control as well.

On the whole, I'd say that the werewolf is nothing more than the personification (de-personification?) of all of the person's id instincts... all those aggressions, including sexual ones, that aren't talked about at parties. They're about violence and sex and cruelty... the total instinctual creature, and a release from the morals of civilization.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: March 20th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why do people who don't want children have a sex instinct?

Well, that's not exactly the same thing, since people who don't want children still belong to a species that normally reproduces by the means of sex and has therefore evolved to have desires that encourage it, whereas werewolves have a totally different mode of reproduction. It just seems odd to me, like reading about a couple of humans swimming upstream to spawn, but I guess I can rationalize it by thinking of it as the instinctual equivalent of the appendix.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2006 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
But both of the mixed species to which werewolves belong are sexually reproductive, so the instincts of both sorts of bodies would lead to a mating instinct, even with the symbolic function of the werewolf (reduction of a human to animalistic instincts) removed.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: March 21st, 2006 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
My theory is that if a female werewolf became pregnant in either stage, the transformation would kill the embryo.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2006 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, mine too. There's no way a pregnancy could survive the transformation if it's as violent as JKR describes it.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: March 21st, 2006 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess it depends on how similar to actual wolves you think werewolves are (my guess is "not at all," but obviously it's very much open to interpretation).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
(In other words, it's an instinct because the wolf isn't really the creature--the whole werewolf is the creature, and transformed, it's got the same sets of desires and unacceptable wants that a human would have, the same instincts... just in the form of a wolf with absolutely no "stops" on it.)
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 20th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually rather like the "population control" notion too.

It occurs to me to wonder whether Greyback -- being rather a loon -- has actually to some degree or another warped the werewolf instincts by getting them into a pack and behaving to a limited degree like actual wolves. He gives himself over to the wolf-mind, but perhaps that in itself allows his preconceptions to push in on it. Hence, they should eat small raw animals.

...Maybe not.

Hrm. That first time with the rabbits, didn't they rub them all with human blood ahead of time? Conditioning thing, perhaps, and not just for Remus?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, in my story, I can make that work--Greyback has observed that there's less pain and so on when the werewolf eats heartily, and therefore conditions the pack to eat anything and everything.

On the whole in canon, though, the message really is mixed, especially factoring in Hagrid's worry about Buckbeak right after we find out about the animagus thing.

:headscratch:
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 20th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indeed, although I think you can work around it by assuming werewolves are endowed with two separate and warring instincts -- to kill and to procreate -- and usually the latter takes precedence. It might even be the case that a lone werewolf is "programmed" to create others of its kind, while a larger pack of them will aim to kill (there are enough of them already, and it's not to their advantage to create additional competition).

Neat. I like this theory.


Hmm. Yeah, so do I. That would work, even if it isn't the 'official' explanation. :)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: March 21st, 2006 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Then again, FB also says "they transform into savage, four-legged beasts of murderous intent and no human conscience" which is difficult to square with the suggestion in HBP that werewolves aim to infect, not to kill.

Then again, Fenrir is a particularly nasty werewolf and is being manipulated by the Death Eaters. There doesn't need to be intent or the lack of it during the transformation: proximity (such as Fenrir's known modus operendi) and opportunity during transformation is all that is needed.

My daughter thinks that werewolves will eat whatever they can catch, whenever they can.

It would be horror fic, however, if Remus did bite one of them while they were animagi and they had to wait a month to find out if the bite took?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2006 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
It would be hard to sustain horror, because we know they didn't, but it would be a really angsty month, with Remus wanting them to find out earlier, and whoever he bit knowing they'll all get expelled if they explain how they happened to get there, and whatever penalties would hang over Remus's head if he infected someone...
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 21st, 2006 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
It would be horror fic, however, if Remus did bite one of them while they were animagi and they had to wait a month to find out if the bite took?

It would make for a nice angsty plot bunny though. :) (At least for a ficlet or as part of a longer MWPP work -- we already know it wouldn't!)
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: March 20th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
In retrospect, the "A werewolf is only a danger to people" part of the Shrieking Shack explanation does seem a little glib. I don't see why they wouldn't hunt, if hungry. And since the Marauders were still human despite their transformed shapes I wonder whether they might have been less safe than they thought from werewolf bites.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 20th, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Agreed -- it always was a little glib to me. I also remember wondering if Sirius might become a werewolf after getting bitten in dog form in PoA, and being mildly surprised when I read GoF and he hadn't. It also makes you wonder why being Transfigured into an animal wouldn't be enough, which would probably be a lot easier than learning how to become an Animagus. (Of course, that's a far cooler thing to learn. And there's also the vague suggestion that you don't retain as much intelligence when Transfigured.)
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: March 20th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I voted for the first option, since the explanation of the Animagus thing from PoA -- "A werewolf is only a danger to people" -- seemed pretty unambiguous to me. (Sorry.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 21st, 2006 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I wondered how anyone actually knew that an animagus was safe. I can see that it was known that a non-human bitten (but not killed) didn't transform at full moon, but to be sure this applied to an animagus wouldn't one have to have been bitten at some stage and not transformed? JKR hasn't really expanded on the subject so I suppose we're safe to think what we like. I did like the idea of Peter being scared in retrospect.

TDU
valerie_valerah From: valerie_valerah Date: March 21st, 2006 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I put "other" because I thought two of the choices were true. I think that a werewolf will eat if it's hungry, but won't crave other prey like it does humans, and that the other animals don't have to worry about being cursed, just eaten.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: March 21st, 2006 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I voted 2, although if there had been tickyboxes I would have ticked 2 and 3. I'm astounded at the terrific feedback you get here. Reading the rest of the comments and I'm thinking more about this than I ever have.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: March 21st, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi Fern! I commented regularly during Shifts and as RL has become extremely busy (Real Life, I mean) I haven't commented on Shades nearly what I should, or would like to. However I'm really, really enjoying it and reading somewhat regularly. Because of busy-RL, I have a very short list of blogs I read (urm, three) and yours is the only HP-related or fanfiction I read. I think of you more as a "favorite author" blog, not fanfic at all, actually. I mean that as praise for you, Fren, not denegration of fanfic, btw!


On to the werewolf poll. I voted for three as I think we have canon evidence for it. Firstly, we have it from the horse's mouth that he was "separated from humans to bite" and "a werewolf is only a danger to humans". So the werewolf instinct is to bite (not eat) *humans*. Prongs and Padfoot were such big animals, they were able to dominate the pack animal (wolf) and keep it "in check" (ie in the pack). So that was MWPP's collective reasoning as to why it was safe - they could keep Lupin from biting humans if he were in a pack. Now, Hagrid is a mother hen about his animals. He knew Buckbeak was loose and knew Lupin was loose. His concern wasn't taht Lupin would bite Buckbeak, but that he might have eaten Buckbeak. Therefore, werewolves must be able to eat when transformed and they *eat* (not bite) for food purposes. Because he didn't eat the little rat Peter, we can assume that they don't *always* eat. Most likely, they only eat when hungry. All pack animals are controlled by the alpha through food. Wizard werewolves go hungry as a matter of course - having no jobs. So it's quite reasonable that an alpha werewolf would control his pack through food (or removal of) and we already know he controls them by promising them blood - what they want. So, that would put human blood as their chief instinct, with food as secondary instinct. Therefore, I think three is very reasonable. They bite humans as instinct, they eat animals as food - if hungry.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 21st, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is an interesting notion here. If Remus acknowledged MWPP as a pack, did that by mean he thought of James as the alpha? Was that why James was able to keep him in check, more than size?
From: corvus_coronis Date: April 8th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I think your guess about the Marauders having a false sense of security from their Animagius guises would be close to the Canon - it's mentioned in Fantastic Beasts that werewolves will seek out humans in preference to other prey. It was also mentioned by one of them (Lupin or Black - I cant remember) that there were many near misses. Lupin could have been too tempted & distracted by the scent & presence of human prey around, to be interested enough in the Animagii to attack them. I know that a transformed Animagus is immune to infection, otherwise Black would have been turned when he fought & got bitten by Lupin in dog form.
35 comments or Leave a comment