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Unauthorised supplement to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
with apologies to J K Rowling
The scalpipede is a quite large myriapod. Individuals are found from 4 to 9 inches in length, larger specimens having about 30 legs at the front and 60 legs behind, the front legs being more sturdy than the rear. Scalpipedes have a very acute sense of balance, which is fortunate as their legs are arranged all in a single line and have no feet on their ends. The creatures sometimes show off by using this sense of balance to walk along the tops of curtain rails and may even use a suitable thread of spider web as a tightrope.
They are on the whole retiring creatures, however, and may be discovered lying quietly under a pillow or hidden between the pages of an old book, which they can easily do because they are almost two dimensional. They are especially favoured as pets by lazy old Wizards, who allow them to eke out a slender existence by crawling round their heads and spiking the occasional louse or flea with their finely pointed back legs. The Scalpipede can then keep the lice etc as food but is expected to discreetly flick loose hairs, dandruff etc under the wife’s pillow to keep the Wizard himself out of trouble.
A well trained Scalpipede will have a routine of starting on his master’s head about half an hour before he wishes to get up in the morning. This way the Wizard is able to wake up dreaming that a Veela1 is caressing him. Although he is doomed to disappointment over this, at least he will find that his hair is tidy!
The nearest known relatives of the Scalpipedes are the Dentipedes. Their main distinction is that the legs of Dentipedes are all fine and all bunched up together at the front end. Like their cousins, they feed on little creatures and edible debris not wanted by their master, in this case around his teeth, squirting the unwanted residues out from a fine jet at the tip of their tails. The hapless Wizard is then likely to suffer an ear bashing from his wife for leaving the bathroom in a mess, whereas the Dentipede is the true culprit. Scalpipedes and Dentipedes come in all colours, except that until recently there has been a preference for breeding Dentipedes with white legs.
1Veelas are feminine half-human creatures with long silvery blonde hair, very beautiful except when they get angry, whereupon they become icily terrifying.
copyright John Nettleship 26.5.2002