Exotic animals; students’ unique pets

While we think of pets as ordinary animals like dogs or cats, a few students would beg to differ. Exotic animals are infrequent, unusual and are generally considered wild as opposed to domesticated. A few of our peers come back to their homes everyday to be greeted by their exotic pet. 

Freshman Nayeli Chinique has owned her ball python, Hershey, for four years. From a young age she had a variety of snakes around since her mother kept snakes as pets. Snakes don’t require as much attention as some other pets, which is a deciding factor for some looking for a new companion. 

“The maintenance of keeping Hershey is not that bad,” Chinique said. “The advice I would give someone who wants to own an exotic pet is to do it at your own risk.” 

Another student with an unusual pet is senior Kelsea Dileonardo, who takes a risk with owning her two American lobsters, Larry and Larrion. The boys heed from the Pacific Ocean and have been with Dileonardo since her dad’s fisherman friend gifted them to her in October. 

Kelsea was intrigued by how they survive in their environment and said she enjoys watching them move around the tank trying to catch the fish or clams she feeds them. However, they can get aggressive over their food or space. 

“If there’s any other fish in the tank the lobsters will eat or kill it; therefore, they have to be alone with each other,” Dileonardo said.

 Senior Valentina Ruiz has owned her painted turtle, Mica, for two years. She got a turtle because she wanted something different that didn’t require a lot of maintenance, and because they’re hypoallergenic. When Mica isn’t bathing in the sun, she’s being fed a diet of shrimp, mealworms and pebbles. 

“If you want something cuddly,  do not get a turtle because they like to do their own thing and it takes a lot of patience when it comes to cleaning their tank,” Ruiz said.

While owning an exotic pet might be interesting to some, there are precautions such as carrying diseases and can be difficult to accommodate for their special needs. Websites such as humanesociety.org can provide helpful information for potential exotic pet owners.