Unique House Pets

When you think about house pets, usually a fluffy cat, an adorable puppy, or a tiny hamster running on a wheel comes to mind. However, some students chose to take home some unusual specimens. 

For example, high school senior Alexa Priest has a ball python named Loki, after the Norse god of mischief.  Her parents were also involved in this decision, as she got him during her freshman year.

“They refused to let me get any kind of mammal so they were like, ‘reptiles!’” she said. “Then I chose a snake, and my mom hates snakes.”

As the sole caretaker of Loki, Priest has many responsibilities.

“I have to make sure that the humidity is right in his tank so that his skin doesn’t dry out, and so whenever he goes to shed, the skin comes off really smooth,” Priest said.

Priest is also looking to provide a backdrop for Loki’s cage, as she is currently utilizing her window curtains as a cover. Priest mentions another challenge in regard to taking care of her ball python, Loki.

“Making sure to remember to feed him at the same time,” Priest said.  “He has such a big gap between eating because [ball pythons] have a slow metabolism, so I have to feed him every two weeks,” 

While these reptiles require a lot of care, having one as a pet can be really fun and rewarding.

“My favorite thing about him is that he’ll crawl on my head and take my glasses from me and then he won’t give them back for like a solid hour,” Priest said.

While Priest keeps her own two larger dogs separated from Loki due to concerns about the dogs’ “excitable” behavior, Loki actually gets along pretty well with her sister’s smaller “lapdogs”.

“The only animals my snake has ever been introduced to have been my sisters’ dogs,” Priest said. “That’s because they’re small lap dogs, so you can pick them up and move them away. The only thing my sister’s dog did was give him a few kisses and then just went away.”

Ball pythons can definitely make some pretty cool pets, but so can amphibians like Australian White’s tree frogs.

Reagan Walker, editor of the Owl Flight Newspaper and art student, currently has two Australian White’s tree frogs named Bea and Sock. 

“It was two years ago, spring break of 2021, when I went to Petco one day,” she said. “My mom was like, ‘Do you want one?’ And then I just kind of got them, it was kind of weird.”

Walker has some helpful advice for future pet owners, including from where not to purchase their animals.

“Stay away from PetSmart, because they give you sick animals and keep them in inappropriate enclosures,” Walker said. “It’s just not good. I would also get them with a companion; they adapt better with other Australian White’s tree frogs.”

These frogs seem to have a very peaceful, mellow disposition.

“They’re very cute, and quiet; they sleep during the day a lot,” Walker said.  “I like their coloring a lot; they’re very pretty creatures.”

Caring for Walker’s frogs, Bea and Sock, seems pretty simple overall.

“They’re fairly good on their own,” Walker said.  “When they were babies, I had to feed them daily, but now that they’re older, I feed them about once a week.”

Walker added that if Bea and Sock could tell her anything, it would likely be to “stop singing so loud all the time.”

From reptiles to amphibians, and even aquatic animals, the student body has them all. Senior Jenna Cochran once had a Red-eared Slider turtle named Colors.

“A red-eared slider is an aquatic turtle, about medium in size, and it has little red patches on its neck.”

It turns out that taking care of these aquatic animals is pretty complicated. 

“[They] need to have a tank that was treated with special chemicals; you can’t just fill it with water,” Cochran said. [They] need to have a half-submerged-half-dry area, and they need to have live food, so we literally gave her feeder fish which are tiny goldfish.”  

Other challenges that came with owning Colors included complaints about the noise of the tank as well as they unpleasant odor.

“Turtles…do not smell good; they don’t,” Cochran said.  “We had to make sure that her tank was cleaned at least every month, remember to feed her all the time, and sadly watching the tiny feeder fish die, but they were her food, so it had to happen.”

However, not all of the goldfish actually died from the feeding frenzy of their predator.

“One time there were three of them that didn’t get eaten and they lived a very very long time,” Cochran said.

Cochran recalls her childhood pet, Colors, very fondly.

“She had a big personality for something so small,” she said.  “She would follow you around the tank; if you walked past the tank she would follow. She would dig up rocks in the bottom, and pile them all up in one corner, and she was very sweet.” 

“All of the other turtles we had would bite and she didn’t bite; not a single time.”

Colors was not only loved by Cochran, but also by her guardian Joe.

“He would actually watch her whenever he got the opportunity. If I needed to clean the tank, he would pick her up and spend time with her,” Cochran said.

Cochran has some advice for anyone looking to take on the responsibility of owning a red-eared slider turtle, but this is probably true for pet owners in general.

“I would say treat them with kindness, and show that you care about them,” Cochran said. “If you show that you care, then they care about you.”

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