Do your kids have pets?

Over the years we’ve had a whole bloody menagerie. There were several Hamsters, though my daughter thought we only had one –  We also had three cats so I will let you work it out.

One time, on an early morning dash back from the pet store with a replacement hamster before my daughter noticed, the damn thing ate its way out of the pet container while I was driving home. I was terrified to slam on the brakes in case I squished it ( it was fine – well, until a month later when the cat got it.) 

The cats, one-eyed Betty, not a weird name – he actually only had one eye, was so gentle he would sleep with my middle son, him using his tail as a cwtch. Mog was more of a brute. Living by the river he once returned home triumphant  to much noise in the garden, where we found four live ducklings  he’d carried up the hill – clearly intent on a takeaway. We rounded them up and returned them, unharmed.  I don’t know if he went back for seconds.

We had snakes and spiders, fish, stick insects, and the school guineapigs for the summer but the worst pet was the African snails.

As big as my hand, they were  kept in a giant  tank in the living room. At night when all the kids were finally in bed and I was sat for just five minutes peace, all you could hear was them munching. I don’t mean just a little munching, I’m talking annoying husband sitting next to you noisily eating a giant bag of crisps in your ear.  There was also the slurping noise when they moved that still makes me gag at the thought. I did consider offering them to the cats as an entrée, but they turned their tails and headed back down the fields.

The corn snake was a great pet. Low maintenance, chilled out, easy to handle. Yes, he did like to escape and was very good at hiding, we once caught him between the wall and the bookcase, perfectly upright, just chilling.  Luckily the hamsters had long gone, otherwise, the cats might have had competition.

The downside was the freezer full of dead mice. This is way grosser than it sounds. Trust me, only once do you stray, late-night, to the freezer for a choc-ice and without looking pull out a small frozen yellow mouse.

Sadly, more than once the son left mice to defrost and then forgot, the stench leading us to the crime weeks later.

The same son arrived home for the summer from University having learned to breed tarantula.

Fab I hear you say.

I said as much as he filled his room with 60 plus spiders at different stages of development. I laughed out loud when he told us it was only a flying visit, just dropping off the spiders while he went on tour with his band – Oh, and would I mind feeding and watering the spiders while he was away!

I don’t remember which pet ate crickets, of course, they could only eat live crickets. Some of the crickets had died, so the boy asked what he should do with them?

‘Hold a funeral,’ I shouted, dashing out to work.

I thought nothing of it until a few weeks later. Sat having a peaceful glass of wine in the garden, I realised the garden sounded like the soundtrack to The Lion King. No, not the singing monkeys, the bloody crickets, chirruping away. Apparently, the boy had put them in the compost bin and in the warmth they’d made a miraculous recovery.  

All of this makes us sound like monsters, I know. I should add, apart from the Hamsters, all of our pets had long and happy lives.

If you let your kids get a pet, know that it’s you that will be hunting for them in the middle of the night or clearing out poop or defrosting dead mice.

But trust me, give the snails a miss. And don’t say yes to feeding spiders.

Right, I’m off to walk the dog.

Next time I’ll tell you about my pet dragon

this post was originally published in Lemon- Aid

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