Weird pets and creepy crawlies!

By Marilyn Sheridan, in Arts & Lifestyle · 05-03-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

I once had a stick insect as a pet, lots of other kids had them at the time, we kept them in jam jars, and we fed them on sprigs of privet we would tear from the hedges of our parents’ gardens. We even gave them names, Sticky, Woody and Twiggy are some that spring to mind.

Not much of a pet, I hear you say, and I would agree, and they were only an inch or so in length, but females of one particular genus of phasmid (which is what they are) are the world’s longest insects, measuring up to 64 centimetres (25 in) in total length in the case of one, including the outstretched legs. The heaviest species females of phasmid weighed in at as much as 65 g (2.3 oz). I don’t think my mother would have tolerated that sitting on my bedside table!

My ex-sister in law once had a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig as a pet, an enormous creature that thought it was a dog, loved a scratch, and had its own bed in the living room. How weird is that? She also had a miniature bull, whose name was Sir Loin (sirloin, get it?). I thought that was hilarious.

Tarantulas are another weird pet – who in their right minds would want to keep a deadly spider in a glass case in your home? Maybe the same people who would keep piranhas in a tank – and risk putting their hands near them in order to feed them morsels of minced meat.

Portugal has its share of weird insects (I don’t know if any are kept as pets!), the weirdest to my mind is the Praying Mantis, with its long legs and triangular heads and googly eyes, and are the only insect with a flexible neck so they can ‘look over their shoulders’, and watch as you walk past – a true creepy (crawlie) experience!

Weird pets can range from the mundane to the exotic, and it has been known for people to keep odd creatures such as hedgehogs, or pygmy goats or Bengal cats or even skunks (don’t upset that one!). Snakes are another exotic pet, though apparently they don’t do so well in captivity as up to 75 percent die within a year of being brought home.

But the weirdest pet (and probably the safest!) that was all the rage when my kids were younger was the Tamagotchi, and I believe they are still available. It is a handheld keyring-type electronic ‘pet’, invented in Japan back in the 1990’s which had to be virtually fed and looked after or it would ‘die’, and it quickly became a massive success, so successful and popular that kids were banned from taking them to school as they were a huge distraction. I remember this only too well, as my son’s Tamagotchi was left in my care on school days, and the wretched thing had to be attended to several times a day until the son returned from school and took over its care himself. It ‘died’ eventually, thankfully not on my watch, but was mourned until the pocket money was saved up for another one!



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