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Recently a situation came up in one of my games where an animal was acting unusually intelligent so one of the player characters cast Detect Magic to identify whether or not the creature was of magical origin.

Is there a reason that would cause a familiar to be considered a Magical beast because it's more intelligent than a normal animal? Or perhaps was a creature that was summoned and that makes it different from normal animals of the same type perhaps?

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They are not detectable with detect magic

Detect magic can only detect creatures — even highly magical creatures such as outsiders and elementals — if they are the result of an ongoing spell, such as summon monster. No creature type detects as magical in itself, not even undead. Specifically, the spell has listings for magic items and for spells, and for nothing else.

But they are Magical Beasts

Familiars (emphasis added):

A familiar is an animal chosen by a spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. It retains the [majority of the game stats] of the normal animal it once was, but is now a magical beast for the purpose of effects that depend on its type.

Generally, any animal that becomes too smart for the confines of the Animal type (2 Int or less) becomes a Magical Beast by virtue of specific wording of whatever effect is responsible for the Int increase; there is, as far as I know, no general rule to ensure this in all cases.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I just want to clarify that has been answered on paizo's blog that a druid/ranger's animal companion will never become a magical beast, no matter how much int it gains. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 9 '15 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ About that note on golems, see: Do Golems register as magical when targeted by Detect Magic?. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Sep 16 '18 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras: Oh, I didn't realize Paizo managed to fix that. The rules that make constructs undispellable do not exist in 3.5 as far as I know. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Sep 16 '18 at 20:27

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