This is all the information publicly available on lycanthropes, including what is taught at Hogwarts and other magical educational institutions. Some of this information is incorrect but believed to be truth. Incorrect information can be identified by the contradiction of it in other sections of the page.
There is in existence one kind of actual lycanthrope: the werewolf. Others are mentioned in muggle myths and legend but none exist.
Lycanthropy is a disease which can be contracted by bite or scratching by the werewolf during the full moon. Scratches don’t always transmit the disease, even when blood is drawn. A bite will always result in a victim becoming a werewolf, however most people die from the injuries of the attack before that can occur. Lycanthropy cannot be passed onto offspring through birth. No one is born a werewolf, one must be bitten/attacked in order to become one. You cannot contract the disease from blood transfusions.
Despite studies and experimentation over centuries there is no known cure for lycanthropy. There is a potion, Wolfsbane potion, which will allow a werewolf to remain in control and consciously aware of themselves, but nothing can stop the shifting. Those who use Wolfsbane longterm may not change until they are in direct moonlight. Barring coming into direct moonlight the change will take place by midnight. Wolfsbane potion, however, is extraordinarily hard to brew and can only be done so correctly by a small percentage of those considered to be Potions Masters. The required ingredients are also very expensive. These two facts make Wolfsbane rare and difficult to acquire while also being rather expensive.
Werewolves are magical creatures. Only a wizard can become a werewolf. Muggles die from the attack because their bodies are weaker than those of a wizard and cannot hold up to the strain of attack.
The shift into one's wolf form occurs for three consecutive days (that of the full moon, the one preceding and the one proceeding it). Their shift is intensely painful. The pain of the shift is believed to be what drives werewolves mad. They will hunt, ravenous, and kill anything or anyone in their path. Friends, enemies and prey all become one group to the mind of the werewolf. The conscious mind of the person all other times of the year seems to be completely absent during their time as a wolf. The shift into and out of one's wolf form is exhausting and taxing on the system.
A werewolf can be distinguished from a regular wolf by the pupils of the eyes, snout shape, and tufted tail.
Werewolves suffer from exhaustion extensively. They are unable to perform with their former vigour they possessed when human. Their skin is pale, drawn and worn while their eyes always are tired and have circles/bags. Werewolves are very often cold unless in extreme heat and are physically weak. Their senses (hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste) are diminished from what they were as a human, many of them losing sight and hearing prematurely.
Despite wolves being pack animals werewolves are very solitary, sometimes even reclusive, people. They shy away from the public often because of how the public looks down upon them. The only known pack to ever form was orchestrated by Fenrir Greyback. It is assumed werewolves do not band together because of the public reaction to them doing so, though it is possible they simply lack the pack mentality of an actual wolf.
The life expectancy of a werewolf is about ten years shorter than that of a muggle. Silver is fatal to werewolves. Just touching it will cause them to die within 24 hours.
This information is known to Regulators. This information is in addition to what is mentioned above. All information is true and accurate, even if it contradicts what is public knowledge.
Some of this information may be known to medical personnel or others who may have studied the creatures in depth through their own, personal, studies and experimentation. Such information will be followed with an asterisk.
There is a hypothesis being researched that lycanthropy was not an engineered disease but is the result of an interaction between a wolf, a wizard and wild magic.
Being scratched by a werewolf at any time will not cause one to contract lycanthropy. Bites will transmit the disease but the highest rate of transmission occurs in blood transfusions or any time a werewolf's blood comes into contact with a human's via wounds and the like. There are people who are seemingly immune to lycanthropy who come into direct contact with the disease under circumstances that should result in contraction but do not. There is no known reason or common factor among the immune. *
Muggles can, and do, become werewolves. Most die from the attack, and some survive without having contracting the disease at all. Only a very, very small percentage survive and become werewolves. *
Werewolves look identical to a grey wolf when in their animal form during the moon.
Lycanthropes are completely immune to all other diseases. If another disease is introduced to the system lycanthropy will eradicate the disease through the immune system. All threats to lycanthropy are converted to killed without any known exception. *
Werewolves shift for five consecutive days (the day of the full moon, the two preceding and the two following). There exist rumours of werewolves who do not turn ravenous with the moon. It is said they keep their minds all on their own just as well as if they had taken Wolfsbane. No one in Britain has ever come into contact with such a werewolf. While the rumours cannot be confirmed, they also have not been rejected as myth either.
Much of the exhaustion a werewolf suffers could potentially be combated through proper diet. Lycanthropes require a much greater amount of protein in their diets than humans and do not require nearly as many fruits, vegetables or carbohydrates. Raw meat and fish has been shown to be more nutritious to a werewolf. While their strength is not dramatically less than that of a human it is noticeably weaker. Studies suggest proper diet will help not just exhaustion but physical strength and the other senses. It is possible that if a werewolf ate as they ought to--and very few do because of the associations eating so much meat and fish has with being an animal--they could function just as well as they did as a human in terms of senses and energy levels. No one has ever stuck it long enough for this to be proven even in a clinical setting.
Silver is lethal to a werewolf only if it is introduced into the blood stream. If there is skin contact with silver it will burn the lycanthrope much like acid would. If silver touches the bloodstream or is injected into it the werewolf will be dead in the time it takes the infected blood to carry the traces of silver through the body. Silver being inhaled, such as in a powder, will make a werewolf deathly ill. Burns caused by silver can be healed, but not by magic. There is no healing or curing the effects of silver in the lungs or blood. Silver in the lungs will not kill a werewolf, but it will debilitate it making it hard to exert much energy before breathing becomes difficult and will even result in them coughing up blood. If the silver powder ever makes it out of the lungs and into the bloodstream, which is possible when they cough so much they cough up blood, they will die just as they would under any other blood contamination circumstances.
Werewolves, if they take adequate enough care of themselves, can outlive wizards. There are a very few recorded instances of werewolves living close to two hundred years and one record of one living to be two-hundred-fifteen.
Origins & Contraction
The information from this point on is not known widely known by anyone other than lycanthropes who keep their mind during the moon. Logical pieces of information are not even known to them, though there are hypotheses and educated guesses pertaining to much of it. Knowledge is largely dependent upon the lycanthrope's personal experiences.
There exist six strains (species) of lycanthropy: wolf, leopard, hyena, king cobra, rat, and tiger. Types of lycanthropy can be smelled on a person by another lycanthrope as each strain smells quite different and lycanthropes tend to smell like their animal.
Lycanthropy is literally a disease. Methods of transmission: Bite, blood, birth.
One has to be bitten by the lycanthrope while in their animal form during full moon (the days of shifting prior to and following the moon have a decreased chance of transmission). Blood transmission would have to be direct contact into an uninfected person's blood stream. It is unlikely transmission would happen without putting infected blood directly into a person's veins. ( i.e. If a lycanthrope is bleeding and you have a cut on your hand and touch their blood there is a very minute chance of infection.) If two lycanthropes produce a child there is a very high chance the child will be born a lycanthrope. There is a chance with all methods of transmission that a person may not contract lycanthropy. Some people's genes are more or less resistant to fighting off what is essentially an infection or disease. It is hardest to contract the disease from a bite.
Someone with one type of lycanthropy cannot contract a second type of lycanthropy. So if a wolf is bit by a snake lycanthrope they won't contract that form of lycanthropy, the first will cancel out the second, essentially destroying it in the bloodstream. All diseases are destroyed by the lycanthropy in a person's system, making them immune to all other diseases for all intents and purposes.
Lycanthropy originated with the actual animals. A King Cobra attacked someone and they died, but then they attacked a wizard and that wizard's genetics and wild magic changed it into something else. This was the case with all six strains of lycanthropy, it was a genetic mutation of the introduction of the animal's DNA into their bloodstream via attack. Lycanthropy spread because these wizards did not realise what they were, instead losing all memory of the nights they changed, and not knowing the ways in which their infection could be spread. The infected moved and spread the six strains around the world, though highest populations of lycanthrope species remain in the areas of that species' natural habitat.
Most people who become infected with lycanthropy die. The disease itself kills the person within a few weeks. There is no way to test for this and no symptoms. The person simply does not wake up one morning, their organs having been shredded, quite literally, overnight without any damage to the outside of the body. The second most common fate is one of resistance to the infection. Repeated introductions of lycanthropy, however, will wear down this resistance and the person will ultimately either die or change. The smallest percentage of people who have had the disease introduced to their system are those who become lycanthropes.
There is no known cure for lycanthropy. Any cure would have to be administered before a lycanthrope's first moon changes, however until one changes there is no way to know for sure that one is a lycanthrope in the first place. Once the first five days of changes have taken place a person is irreparably changed, right down to their DNA. If one were to try to eradicate the lycanthropy in a person at that point they would kill the person as the lycanthropy adapts to their body and changes it, making the person and the infection indistinguishable from one another.
Lycanthropes of different strains of the infection cannot breed. When confronted with different forms of the disease they will kill each other and the child will be killed in the womb from this within the first month in nearly all cases. Very rarely the child does not die, but develops. These children are always human, never lycanthropes. Most lycanthrope females cannot carry a child to term. By month five they usually miscarry from their moon shifting. The change is too violent for a human child to survive and even a lycanthrope child who shifts with its mother during the moon has a very hard time of surviving. Only about once every two hundred years is a human child born to a lycanthrope mother. Any lycanthropes born to a lycanthrope mother become alphas, the mere process of surviving to be born having made the child strong enough to be dominant.
Those who are born lycanthropes are usually born to a human mother and a lycanthrope father. Human mothers rarely survive pregnancy because the unborn infant will shift during the moon inside of her and a human is not durable enough to sustain the damage done to the inside of her body from the shifting. Those who make it through pregnancy usually die in birth. There is a higher chance of a human woman and a lycanthrope male birthing a human child than there is with a pair of lycanthropes or a lycanthrope female with a human male.
Lycanthropes are not purely magical in origin. Muggles also become lycanthropes, though unregulated by the Ministry. Muggle lycanthropes are, however, kept an eye on once known to the Ministry. There are no added benefits to being a witch or wizard made into a lycanthrope, though muggle lycanthropes are looked down on more than magical ones. More wizards become lycanthropes than muggles. There is something in wizarding genetics that allows for the adaptation to the introduced infection that is lacking in muggle genetics. Most muggles either are unaffected or die from the disease. Those muggles who do become lycanthropes usually have a wizard in their bloodlines somewhere, most commonly they are the descendants of squibs.
The shift itself from human to animal and animal to human form is extremely painful, a fact that causes more people to reject rather than accept the change. A great deal of energy is expended during the shift and when shifting from human to animal form the lycanthrope must feed very quickly to replace that energy. After shifting back to human form from animal the lycanthrope collapses, usually falling unconscious for several hours, or at the very least sleeping very heavily for a few hours time.
Lycanthropes change for a total of five days every month: the two days before the moon, on the full moon, and the two days after the moon. Shifting occurs at the moment the sun begins to dip below the horizon and the shift back to human form takes place only after the sun has completely risen over the horizon.
When shifted into animal form a lycanthrope looks identical to the actual animal. The exception is that rats shift into a rat about the size of a coyote while all others remain true to the animal's natural size, including the 18-19 foot cobras.
There are two paths a person can go down as a lycanthrope. They can accept what they become or not. The first full moon changes will dictate a person's entire relationship with their lycanthropy. Most are scared, terrified and fight against the change the first month they experience it (example: Remus Lupin). These people will shift every month and have no control over themselves while in their animal form. Their minds will be lost, taken over by the animal mind inside of them which asserts dominance when shifted. Wolfsbane can be used to chase back the animal mind and keep it dormant during the change while delaying the change as well, but nothing can stop the change itself from taking place. Wolfsbane use tends to leave a lycanthrope more exhausted than usual the days after the shift should have taken place, the animal mind fighting harder to get out after being denied.
The people who accept their shifting into their animal form their first month have a very different experience; they slowly learn control. The animal mind is always there, always present and while shifted thought processes are very base, and instinct driven. However, unlike the person who fought the change, the one who accepts it keeps control of their actions. They won't attack a person while shifted if they wouldn't when in human form, for example. Wolfsbane is just as effective on these people, but they have no real need of it and so they don't ever use it except maybe once or twice to see what it does generally.
The abilities one has as a lycanthrope entirely depend upon that initial reaction. People who fight lycanthropy will live longer and be immune to diseases. They will appear to physically age much faster, however, because they will often be tired or exhausted and be sick from the exhaustion itself, not from a disease or viral infection. The mind fights against the animal presence while the body tries to fight against the disease growing inside of it. It is really a fight for dominance that is never ending within that person's body and mind. The body becomes worn much quicker because of this, which means while they will naturally live for a long time, longer than wizards, they will be rather feeble in old age. Their senses sometimes become dulled from the energy the body puts into trying to expel the lycanthropy from within it. Never are their senses enhanced beyond very good human senses. These people heal slightly faster than humans, but not enough to be particularly noticeable given the energy is all being directed to their body's fight against the disease. Some lycanthropes who fought the change have been known to be driven insane from the resulting battle between the human and animal minds over the long term.
The people who embraced their lycanthropic change live longer as well, just as long as those who fought the change, and also be immune to diseases, however where the others are drawn and exhausted these people tend to be in incredibly good health. By accepting the change mentally their body welcomes the changes as well, which means their energy can do things like keep them healthy and energetic (often abundantly so). They age more slowly than wizards do and their metabolisms work at a rapid rate, causing these lycanthropes to eat constantly just to maintain body weight. This sped up metabolism also heals a lycanthrope much faster A lycanthrope who embraced their change will start to take on aspects of their animal, such as mannerisms but never anything physical. Their senses/perceptions will often change to the natural levels of their animal. For example, a King Cobra lycanthrope can sense heat to help them see in complete darkness. A Leopard or Tiger lycanthrope will have incredible night vision. Note that the person's five senses become the same level of the animal's, so while they are often considered superhuman they are never to exceed the capabilities of the animal itself. Speed and strength tend to be increased, and though nothing beyond human standards these qualities can push at reasonable strength and speed levels of a person of the lycanthrope's stature.
Those who reject the change the first month never can gain control during their animal form. These people very, very rarely ever find out such a thing is even possible as they are completely absent from their mind during the change. Most people who accept the change find each other and form packs, even those with lycanthropy of solitary animals as the pack mentality tends to come more from the human mind and its desire to not be alone but rather surrounded by those like themselves. They rarely know of people who rejected the change or the consequences of doing so.
All lycanthropes can be killed by any normal mortal wounds (beheading, shot/stabbed in the heart) so long as the lycanthrope's body does not have the time and energy to heal the wound before it becomes fatal. (Lycanthropes who embraced their change can heal extreme injuries so long as they are not low in energy from a recent transformation.)
Silver is fatal. Skin contact burns a lycanthrope, prolonged contact will burn through the skin and once blood is reached the silver will travel through the bloodstream, killing the lycanthrope. Injuries from silver will heal human slow, but they will heal unless the lycanthrope dies from the wound first (a slit neck, for example, with a silver blade). Any injuries at the time of shifting from human to animal form will be healed with the change.
Lycanthropes cannot survive on a vegetarian diet. They require large amounts of protein from meat in order to survive. A lycanthrope not consuming enough meat will starve themselves to death. Wererats can get away with eating less meat proportional to their diet than the other types of lycanthropes can. Those who rejected the change do not feel the hunger for meat as much, but if they eat constantly they are not as exhausted all the time from their internal struggles. Raw meat is preferred over cooked meat even in human form as it has more nutritional value to the lycanthrope.
Lycanthropes who have rejected their change prefer to be fully covered at all times, a reminder and symbol of their human status. Lycanthropes who have accepted their change dislike clothing, a symbol of their captivity in their human bodies. Rather they prefer to wear little to no clothing as often as possible, but this is not innately sexual as it is to humans. Animals, obviously, do not wear clothing so the lycanthrope finds clothing uncomfortable much of the time, feeling like they should be natural instead.
Physical touch is calming and comforting to lycanthropes. All species are incredibly tactile and enjoy close physical proximity to one another; this is part of the pack mentality that has developed in them. Those who have rejected what they are often hold back from the instinct to touch and be touched, especially casually.
An alpha is a dominant. They tend to be faster, stronger and better hunters. Whether or not someone is an alpha is determined by their personality. Someone strong willed will gain more strength and speed when infected with lycanthropy than someone weak willed. Internal strength becomes external strength as a lycanthrope. Some people are alphas. Some are not. This will not change. A person who is weak, submissive or in need of protection will not gain strength and become an alpha, they will always be a more submissive animal, though the alphas in that animal's pack will take to protecting the submissive or weak lycanthrope from harm, even in human form. Someone who has rejected the change will always be lesser than a weak lycanthrope who has accepted it. One cannot be an alpha unless one has embraced the change when it came.
There is a difference between interacting with a lycanthrope who is control of themselves while in animal form and one who isn't for humans. The latter, lycanthropes like Remus Lupin was, is very much someone who is holding onto their humanity. That isn't to say lycanthropes are inhumane, but the ones for whom their lycanthropy is a sickness cling to the things that make them human and fight the infection of the disease. Dealing with them is like dealing with any other person of their temperament.
Lycanthropes who welcomed the change and whose DNA was easily changed by the introduction of the disease are completely different. They can keep their heads during their change into their animal form because both human and animal minds are always present. They meld to create a new personality, a new species in many ways. Dealing with one of these lycanthropes is really like dealing with a wild animal. Humans instinctively know they are a predator. As such they will, quite unconsciously, not make eye contact so as to not provoke the animal. There is also a definite feeling of danger around them. People interpret the danger in different ways, some finding it exciting and others becoming irrationally scared of the person or taking an immediate dislike to them. Only other predators (other lycanthropes of this kind, vampires, etc.) find interacting with this type of lycanthrope to be like interacting with any other person. All normal humans will interact with them on a subconscious level much like they would a wild predator.