The Harry Potter series remains a beloved part of pop culture because of the recent reunion special on HBO Max or the constant headlines its cast members continue to make, the series is as relevant as it was 10 years ago. Nearly every character in the saga is well-known by now, but details about a few remain scarce.
Such is the case for Peter Pettigrew, who the films somewhat sidelined. Pettigrew is a key figure in Harry’s story, and while the films feature him enough, several details about his life and character remain known only by book fans.
Pettigrew Was Born In 1960
Much of Pettigrew’s life and background remains a mystery. His parents do not even get names, and other characters refer to her mother only as “Mrs. Pettigrew.” However, Pettigrew’s birth year was 1960, since he began his Hogwarts education in 1971.
The books remain notoriously uninterested in exploring Pettigrew’s backstory, but fans can tell his childhood was probably quiet and uninteresting. His meek and cowardly attitude might’ve caused others to bully him, explaining his tendency to look for stronger friends that could protect him when he was older.
The Marauders Knew Pettigrew Was Weak
Pettigrew had a reputation as a weakling during his time at Hogwarts. McGonagall mentions how he was not as talented as James or Sirius, and other characters refer to him using a clear and distinctive tone of condescension and pity.
Despite being his friends, the other Marauders knew that Pettigrew was weak and unimpressive. Sirius suggested him as Lily and James’ Secret Keeper because he considered him inconsequential and thus thought no Death Eater would ever suspect him of harboring such an important secret. However, underestimating Pettigrew’s weakness was everyone’s greatest mistake; his lack of confidence and craving for power led him to become a follower of the mighty powerful Voldemort.
Pettigrew Took The Longest To Become An Animagus
The Harry Potter The franchise has tons of cool powers, but the ability to become an animal has to be one of the best. The Marauders first became animagi to spend time with Lupine while he was in his werewolf form; in animal form, they could go toe to toe with Lupine in case he became particularly feral.
However, the process was difficult and required considerable magic skill, explaining why Pettigrew took the longest to achieve it and could only succeed in becoming a rat. Sirius and James both became large and impressive animals – a stag and a dog -, but Pettigrew had to settle with a lowly rat. In hindsight, living under his friends’ constant shadow shouldn’t have been easy and probably caused intense hatred in Pettigrew’s heart.
Pettigrew Had An Order Of Merlin
Following his supposed death, the Ministry of Magic recovered Pettigrew’s finger and delivered it to his mother, along with an Order of Merlin First Class in honor of his sacrifice.
Within the Potter universe, the Order of Merlin is the highest honor a wizard can get; the First Class would be the equivalent of receiving a Knighthood in real life. Other characters to have an Order of Merlin First Class include Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Cornelius Fudge. Lupine also received one, albeit posthumously, following his death during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Pettigrew Had Voldemort’s Wand
The Harry Potter The franchise is famous for its impressive lore about wands. Each is unique and possesses a level of sentience that allows it to “choose” the wizard. Voldemort’s wand was a twin of Harry’s and thus played a crucial role in the Potter series.
Following his defeat in Godric’s Hollow, Voldemort left his wand in the wreck of the Potter house. Pettigrew took it, afraid that the Ministry would use it as proof against him, and hid it in an undisclosed location. After Sirius blew his cover as Scabbers, Pettigrew recovered the wand and traveled to Albania to find Voldemort, reuniting master and wand. The series has never revealed where Pettigrew hid the wand, even though it’s a crucial piece of wizarding lore.
Death Eaters Considered Pettigrew A Traitor
The Death Eaters are Voldemort’s followers, who scattered following his defeat. Some – Bellatrix, Barty Crouch Jr. –remained loyal to him, refusing to betray him and going to Azkaban. Others, like Lucius Malfoy and Igor Karkarov, denounced their former master and successfully built new lives.
However, in the uncertain time following Voldemort’s defeat, the Death Eaters thought Pettigrew had betrayed Voldemort, leading him to the Potter house as a trap. On the good side, only Sirius knew about Pettigrew’s status as the Potters’ Secret Keeper, explaining how he managed to pull off his ruse and fake his death.
Pettigrew Could Communicate With Other Rats
The extent of an animagus ‘abilities’ was never properly explained. The books only mention that the transformation is hard to achieve and even harder to maintain, but they never go into the specifics or dangers of the process.
However, the books seemingly imply that an animagus gains the ability to communicate with other members of its species. Pettigrew learned from other rats about the existence of a shadow in the Albanian forests, which led him to locate Voldemort. It’s unclear if Pettigrew gained this ability by spending more than a decade in rat form or if it’s something all animagus can do.
Pettigrew Was Never Loyal To Voldemort
Pettigrew was selfish and self-interested, as such he never had any real loyalty to Voldemort and only saw him as a way to gain power. Following his defeat, Pettigrew hid to avoid facing other Death Eaters and only went back to Voldemort because Sirius blew his cover.
Had the Order of the Phoenix been more successful during the First Wizarding War, it’s unlikely Pettigrew would have turned on them. Whenever he spent time with Voldemort, he showed no real commitment to him and actually seemed disgusted by his master’s lack of a body. When Voldemort returns to power, Pettigrew fears him, making it abundantly clear that he stayed with the Dark Lord out of fear and not loyalty.
The Sorting Hat Never Regretted Sending Pettigrew To Gryffindor
For years, Potter fans wondered how Pettigrew managed to get sorted into Gryffindor. He is resourceful, cunning, far more intelligent than anyone gives him credit for, and craves power above all else; in short, he is the definition of a Slytherin.
Still, the Sorting Hat never regretted its decision. It even used Pettigrew’s show of remorse and unwillingness to kill Harry at Malfoy Manor as proof that he was indeed brave. Pettigrew did seem to regret betraying Harry and Lily, but his cowardice comes out repeatedly, meaning the Sorting Hat probably made a mistake in placing him in Gryffindor.
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