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We all know someone who has a dog or cat as a pet - you may even have one or both of these yourself. Other people have birds, fish, hamsters or even ferrets but pets can come in many other forms. Here’s a list of some of the stranger critters that people have welcomed into their families.
These cuddly and playful Australian natives belong to the possum family. They’re called gliders because their front legs are attached to their back legs by a rubbery skin that allows them to glide through the air when they are stretched out (like a flying squirrel). They are very social so it’s best to have more than one. Sugar gliders are also very loyal and can learn tricks! Although these little guys are cute, they may not make the best pets because they are nocturnal, which means they are most active at night and might keep you awake.
When most people see a cockroach they run screaming in the opposite direction but there are some people who actually keep these hissers from Madagascar as pets! They are pretty easy to look after and if well taken care of, they can live as long as 5 years. It’s best to keep these cockroaches in a fishtank with a screen on the top so they can’t sneak out when you’re not looking. They love to climb and they need a dark place to hide because they don’t like the light. Oh and the hissing sound? That comes from air that they force out of their breathing holes on either side of their bodies.
About the size of a small dog when fully grown, pygmy goats are becoming more popular as pets. Originally they came from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They are very friendly, playful and super cute. Also very social, they need other goats or playmates around to keep them happy. Pygmy goats are pretty easy to take care of but require an area big enough for them to run around in with a high fence so they can’t jump out. They eat grass, hay, leaves and grains.
These lizards (also known as Pogona) have rows and clusters of scales on their throats that look like a beard - which is where they got their name. They can fill their throats with air to make the scales stick out to scare off enemies. They can also make their beards change colour! They like to eat insects like crickets and worms but will also eat dandelion leaves. If well cared for, bearded dragons can live to be up to 12 years old! These friendly lizards do this thing where it looks like they are waving at you but it’s actually an arm motion they do in the wild to show that they don’t mean any harm to other bearded dragons. They also like to bob their heads up and down like they are dancing.
Like hissing cockroaches, skunks scare people. The last thing anyone wants is to be sprayed by one of these insanely smelly creatures. But some skunk lovers are having the scent glands safely removed from the skunks when they are babies. What’s left is an adorable little black and white striped buddy that follows you around looking for snuggles. Skunks are very sensitive and intelligent creatures but like all pets they require some serious care and commitment.
Is that a twig crawling on your hand? No wait...that’s a stick bug! Maybe one of the easiest pets to take care of is the stick bug. They require an enclosure big enough for them to hang out...literally, they love to hang! So make sure there are lots of things for them to climb on like branches and plants. The enclosure also needs to be big enough for them to molt (shed their skin). They eat ivy or even just lettuce of any kind. Stick insects prefer to have other stick insects around to play with so it’s best to have a couple - even more stick bugs to scare grandma with!
Photo from Isle of Wight County Museum licensed CC BY-SA 3.0
But not just any ham. This ham in particular (named, you guessed it... Ham) is 113 years old and lives in a museum in Virginia as the world’s oldest cured ham. The story goes that Ham was left to “cure” (be preserved to be eaten later) in 1902 in a meat packing plant and was forgotten about. Eventually P.D. Gwaltney Jr. found it and decided to make it his pet. He had a collar made for it and took it everywhere he went. Now the ham, which you could probably still eat, sits in the museum and you can watch it on live web cam!