Nifflers and real-life collectors

The Natural History Museum

Explore the stories behind the Fantastic Beasts™: The Wonder of Nature exhibition. Like Nifflers, many different animals collect things for all sorts of reasons. Discover nature's most remarkable collectors.

NifflerThe Natural History Museum

'The Niffler is a British beast. Fluffy, black and long snouted, this burrowing creature has a predilection for anything glittery. Nifflers are often kept by goblins to burrow deep into the earth for treasure. Though the Niffler is gentle and even affectionate, it can be destructive to belongings and should never be kept in a house. Nifflers live in lairs up to twenty feet below the surface and produce six to eight young in a litter.'
– Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them™

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Niffler jewelleryThe Natural History Museum

Stolen goods

Newt's mischievous Niffler broke into a jewellery store in New York to steal some irresistibly shiny items. It is not clear why Nifflers are driven to collect sparkly objects.

Niffler catching gloveThe Natural History Museum


Nifflers on the loose

Need to recover an escaped Niffler? Newt's assistant Bunty dangled a shiny object from a glove to tempt a baby Niffler into her palm.

Niffler basket Niffler basketThe Natural History Museum

She then safely returned the creature to its treasure-filled basket.

MagpieThe Natural History Museum

Eurasian magpie (Pica pica)

Just like Nifflers, magpies have a reputation for stealing shiny objects. But a recent study may have proven magpies innocent. When presented with piles of shiny and non-shiny objects, magpies showed little interest and instead appeared afraid of new, unfamiliar things.

NifflerThe Natural History Museum

Curious collectors

Many different animals do collect things, though. Some gather materials to build a nest or home, or to store food. Others create displays of colourful items in order to impress a potential mate.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Royle's pikaThe Natural History Museum

Royle's pika (Ochotona roylei)

Many pika species spend warmer periods harvesting a stockpile of flowers, grasses and mosses. This ensures they have enough plants stored away when there is less food around or when snow-covered ground makes it difficult to access.

The preferred food of the Royle's pika grows best with high rainfall and low temperatures. Climate change is predicted to cause a shortage of these plants, making it harder for pikas to find food and survive.


Amazing ability
Gathering plants for when food is scarce

Where to find them
Nibbling plants in the forests or mountainsides of the Himalayas

Adelie penguinThe Natural History Museum

Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)

To nesting Adélie penguins, pebbles are highly prized items. They collect as many stones as possible, piling them up to build their nest.

Amazing ability
Piling up stones to help prevent their nest from flooding

Where to find them
Raising chicks in coastal areas of Antarctica and surrounding islands

Antarctica (1964) by Michael RougierLIFE Photo Collection

Some Adélies take stones from their neighbours, but they run the risk of a sharp peck or a flipper-bash.

Bone-house waspThe Natural History Museum

Bone-house wasp (Deuteragenia ossarium)

As you might guess from its name, this wasp collects something a little more gruesome than flowers or pebbles. The female bone-house wasp gathers dead ants to seal the end of its nesting hole.

Scientists think the corpses make the nest smell like an ant colony, camouflaging it from predators.

Amazing ability
Collecting dead ants to disguise their nest

Where to find them
Buzzing through forests in south-eastern China

Satin bowerbirdThe Natural History Museum

Satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

Feathers, flowers, shells – even buttons and bottle tops – feature in this bird's treasure trove.

To attract a mate, a male gathers colourful objects to decorate its bower, a tunnel-like structure made from sticks. When a female appears, a male will perform a dance while holding a favourite object in its beak.

Amazing ability
Decorating and appreciating all things colourful

Where to find them
The forests of eastern Australia

Satin bowerbird nest Satin bowerbird nestThe Natural History Museum

Blue objects are particularly popular with satin bowerbirds. As blue is a rare colour in nature, this suggests that males who find lots of blue objects are perceived to be skilled, good-quality mates.

Credits: Story

For more information and to book tickets to the exhibition, visit the Museum's website.

To find out more about the Wizarding World, visit WizardingWorld.com

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s21)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps