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Acromantula

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Ara

Aragog the Acromantula.

Acromantulas are giant, venomous spiders belonging to the world of Harry Potter.  Dangerous and possessing a voracious appetite, they are described as one of the deadliest monsters to ever inhabit the world.  

History

Endemic to the island of Borneo and southeast Asia, Acromantulas are thought to be a wizard-bred species designed to guard hoards of treasure and homes. They were first sighted on Borneo in 1794, and one was introduced to Scotland in 1942-43 after Rubeus Hagrid acquired Aragog's egg. Some time later a colony was established there after Hagrid gave the fellow Acromantula Mosag as a mate to him, presumably after having her smuggled into Britain like Aragog before her. 

Acromantulas are covered under the 1965 Ban on Experimental breeding, designed to regulate the growth of wizard-bred creatures, due to their high toxicity, aggressiveness, the inability of wizards to tame it and its taste for human flesh.  

The Chamber of Secrets

The book and film where these monsters make their debut. They capture Harry Potter and Ron Weasley after they are told to "follow the spiders" to find out the identity of the culprit behind the attacks at Hogwarts. The colony brings them to their patriarch, Aragog. He gives them the necessary clues to deduce the nature of the horror living in the school, but they are nearly eaten after Aragog denies them protection from his brood; they are rescued by the timely intervention of the Weasleys' flying Ford Anglia. 

The Prisoner of Azkaban

Ron Weasley fought a boggart that assumed the appearance of an Acromantula during a Defense Against the Dark Arts class. 

The Goblet of Fire

An Acromantula was placed inside the final Triwizard Tournament trial, the maze, where it was defeated by the combined efforts of Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory. 

The Half-Blood Prince

The dead Aragog is buried by Hagrid, Harry, and Professor Horace Slughorn, to prevent him from being consumed by his children, given a bizarre funeral, and his is venom collected by Slughorn to later be sold.

The Deathly Hallows

The colony is displaced from the forest by Death Eaters and advances to Hogwarts Castle, adding to the confused stampede of fighting students, Death Eaters, teachers and magical creatures. 

Biology and Behavior

Acromantulas are described as enormous, hairy black spiders, with adults being as large as "carthorses" and their legs reaching a span of up to 15 feet. Each possesses eight large black eyes and a pair of chelicerae used to eat live prey and even their own dead kin. Additionally, they also have pincers, which are said to mainly be used for communicating as they create clicking sounds when agitated or excited. Highly aggressive, they are known to eat humans and show a preference for "fresh meat." They are able to speak in human languages, but the only Acromantula known to have exhibited this trait was Aragog. Acromantulas also practice necrophagy, as they typically consume family members after they die, though this seems restricted to their family instead of their prey. 

They also secrete an incredibly dangerous poison which retains its potency even some time after the Acromantula's death. A rare and sought after ingredient in potions and the like, it's valued at 100 Galleons a pint. 

The females are larger than the male (typical in real spiders) and lay soft white eggs "as large as beachballs," up to 100 at a time. They hatch after six to eight weeks and are a Class A Non-Tradeable Material. 

Originally from Borneo, they exhibit a preference for heavily forested areas and are able to adapt to hot, humid climes as well as cold weather (as they successfully established their presence in both Asia and Britain). Acromantulas build enormous white webs shaped like domes and live communally, which is unusual for spiders, since most carry out solitary lives and only come together to mate. 

Their sworn enemy is the Basilisk, whose petrifying stare they fear since they possess eight eyes that they cannot close. Like all spiders, they flee from its presence, and their instinctual terror for it is so great that they forbid mentioning the monster in all conversation. 

Trivia

  • Their names are composed by the words acros, Greek for "high" (referencing their tendency to build their webs high in trees),  and -mantula, from the word "tarantula."  However, in the film adaptation they resemble wolf spiders more than they do tarantulas.
  • Conversely, the Acromantula boggart that appeared in the third film looked like a black widow spider. 
  • Their eight eyes symbolize the number eight in the wizard version of the runic alphabet. 
  • According to the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Ministry of Magic assigns a classification of five xs' to the species, meaning they are "known wizard killer(s)/impossible to train or domesticate," the most dangerous category out of all beasts. In the book, the severely arachnophobic Ron Weasley penned in an additional nine xs'. 
  • The Chamber of Secrets film featured a movie exclusive spell, "Arania Exumai (from latin words araneus exuo, "spider" and "I lay aside")", which was designed to fight or kill spiders. It was created by Tom Marvolo Riddle while still at school and later used by Harry Potter to defend himself and Ron against the pursuing Acromantula colony. 

Sources

  1. Acromantula (n.d.) The Harry Potter Wiki. 
  2. Newt Scamander. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2001

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