I have been doing some pondering on animal Transfiguration lately, and I have a few things that have me stumps.
We knoe that inanimate objects can be turned into animals from the scene in the first book, but according to Gamp's Law, we know that magic can't be used to conjure food. Although, why people couldn't just kill the pig is a mystery to me, but I do have a few theories as to why this might be.
Could it be that animals conjured from inanimate objects just have the nutritional value of whatever they are transfigured from: like a bar of soap turned into a duck would really just still be the same as soap if a person tried to eat it?
What do you all think?
That's one of Rowling's many inconsistencies. Magic can't create food, but it can apparently create slugs, snakes, canaries, and other creatures (which are really no different from "food" in any material sense).
Two possible explanations:
(1) As you suggest, transformed/conjured creatures aren't "real" and thus have no actual nutritional value.
(2) Conjured creatures aren't really being created, but summoned from elsewhere.
The latter theory is the one I prefer, but it still doesn't explain why the Trio couldn't just cast Serpensortia and throw a few snakes on the barbie, if they were so hungry during their camping trip.
Something else I wonder about is the mental capacities of these transfigured creatures, as well as how long these creatures can stay transfigured. How long would it be before a bird transfigured from a bar of soap begins to act like a bar of soap once again?
Does anyone have any thoughts or opinions on this?
First Brush With A Dementor
Although it doesn't answer all of your questions, you still might find this thread helpful.
As for what the "animals" would think... I can't get the whale from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide out of my head.
Originally Posted by Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
I think if you transfigure something into an animal, it's as though the animal has come from out of nowhere, and therefore it must be quite confused about what it is, and what all the extra limbs and brainspace are for. If you gave it time, I believe the bar of soap would rather get used to being a duck and start behaving like one than turn back to soap bar behaviour. Like.. mh, like Peter Pettigrew gets used to life as a rat with the Weasley's and behaves like a very ordinary rat for 13 years. Of course he does that consciously, but it's the closest example I could think of... I believe if your spell is powerful enough, the creatures stay creatures until you turn them back. Which makes me feel sorry for all the Transfiguration-abominations (the teacups with the short legs, for example. Poor things).
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