According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets provide their owners with many bonus health benefits. Pets can decrease: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of depression. Pets can increase: movement, exercise and outdoor activities, and social interaction.
Sometimes people are inspired to seek pet options outside the normal domestic range — because of allergies, housing restrictions or just personal taste. Let’s face it: Some pet choices fall into the realm of just plain bizarre.
It is with some apology to lovers of all things strange that this compilation of the “10 Weirdest Pets Ever” provides a ranking beginning with number 10.
My List of the 10 Weirdest Pets Ever
Some people have discovered that reptiles make perfect pets. Most reptiles are hypoallergenic (their food sources aside). They are clean, easy to care for, interesting to observe and quiet.
The exception to the perfect pet criteria, and the characteristic that places the anaconda snake at number 10 on the “Weirdest Pets Ever List,” is the fact that the owner may one day end up as the pet’s entrée. Anacondas grow to a length of more than 21 feet and weigh in excess of 100 pounds. These snakes can become very aggressive when confined. Cute and cuddly may be overrated, but you will want to reconsider before giving the anaconda a big hug.
9. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Millions of dollars are spent annually to eradicate the lowly cockroach from domestic spaces. It is weird to imagine keeping a BIG one as a pet!
The Madagascar hissing cockroach is the largest member of the cockroach family, achieving an adult size of 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. The name comes from a hissing sound emitted through a breathing hole, and is used as a mating ritual or to sound an alarm. The males of the species have horns, and they battle rivals with much the same ramming encounter as with other antlered animals. If the Madagascar hissing cockroach is your pet of choice, remember: the females bear their young live, and one “litter” will produce up to 60 babies. That could be what all the hissing is really about.
The piranha is a carnivorous fish with a reputation of being a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, mindless, vicious killer. The extent of the piranhas’ reputation may be sensationalized, but these pets do require special handling to avoid injury.
An adult piranha can grow to between 10 inches and 2 feet long depending on the species. A serrasalmus piranha must be kept in a solitary tank because of its aggressive, intolerant nature. It will attack other fish, tank equipment, its owner (you), even its own reflection. A strict feeding regimen is an absolute necessity. You will find that owning a piranha gives new meaning to “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”!
Ready to embrace the skunkitarian lifestyle?
True, the skunk is an adorable looking animal with an intelligent face and cat-like body, but come on — what about the obvious? If you find the sense of smell highly overrated and want to look into owning a skunk as a pet, there is an organization to provide guidance. OOPS — Owners of Pet Skunks — is “devoted to becoming your favorite stop for pet skunk information.”
Or perhaps just “possum,” depending on your origin, number 6 on my list is the opossum. Considered an introvert, this animal has a reputation for “playing dead,” but don’t let that fool you. If cornered, an opossum can come out hissing and fighting with very sharp teeth and nails.
An adult opossum will range in size from 15 to 20 inches long and normally weigh between 10 and 13 pounds. Opossums have opposable thumbs and a prehensile tail, and they can climb anything. They are foragers, so should an opossum become your next pet, good luck keeping treats out of this character’s reach.
The prehistoric-looking armadillos are nocturnal creatures that love to roam around at night scavenging for food. One armadillo owner reported that the pet dug up an entire sofa in search of scraps. Armadillos have a distinct “musky” odor, which may keep your houseguests to a minimum. True to the nature of any wild animal, the armadillo can become aggressive in captivity.
4. Venus Fly Trap
If your phone’s ring tone is “Da-Doo” then you probably own the number 4 weirdest pet ever. Venus flytraps really are blood lovers made iconic by Little Shop of Horrors. The edges of this carnivorous plant’s leaves form a hinge-like trap that secretes mucilage to attract live prey. Strange, but flytraps are so evolved they will not waste energy eating objects of non-nutritional value. There are no records documenting a Venus flytrap big enough to eat a human!
3. Chia Pet
Since 1977, enthusiasts’ love affair with the Chia Pet has grown. Chias are terracotta figures embedded with chia seed. Once moistened, the seeds sprout, quickly forming “fur.” Chia Pets are available in a variety of animal forms, so you can enjoy your very own “ch-ch-ch-chia” menagerie.
2. Pet Rock
The “no care pet that gives its owner a few moments of pleasure” logs in at the number 2 “Weirdest Pet Ever” spot. Pet Rocks were the alcohol-inspired creation of Gary Dahl in the early ’70s. Dahl was made a millionaire many times over by their success, and that fact makes this weird pet rock!
1. Amazing Sea-Monkeys
These 1960 “dream pets” were heavily advertised in popular comic books and children’s publications. Like millions of kids, I saved allowances and sent for my “Bowlful of Happiness.” I followed the directions and waited and watched through the magnifying windows of the mini aquarium — and NEVER saw one monkey! The only thing that grew as a result of my attempts was my mother’s impatience. She would ultimately tire of the slimy mess and dump my invisible pets.
I take some comfort in knowing that even astronaut John Glenn had a fascination with these mythical creatures (which are actually a kind of brine shrimp). He took a batch into space; they didn’t hatch either! The number 1 spot goes to my elusive Amazing Sea Monkey — the “Weirdest Pet nEver.”
Okay, now it’s your turn. What are some of the weirdest pets you’ve ever heard about? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
Photos: thefixer/Flickr (Madagascar hissing cockroach), xinem/Flickr (skunk), born1945/Flickr (opossum), Hendricks Photos/Flickr (Venus fly trap)