When we think of pets, usually a picture of a dog, cat or the occasional horse comes to mind. But what about other types of pets that are not as common, such as snakes, rats or even tarantulas? Although these animals may seem scary or far from the idea of pets, there are actually many benefits that come with having an unorthodox pet, such as adaptability, cleanliness and having a friend that will work around a busy student schedule.
Take campus student Cal Growney, for example, who recently adopted two pet rats — Kendall and Kylie — during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It does seem kind of weird (to have an unusual pet). I do acknowledge that, but they are way easier to maintain and take care of than a more traditional pet … and, you know, with unorthodox pets you get all the benefits of having a cat and a dog, except in a smaller package.”
The truth is, rats or reptiles may seem unorthodox and scary when we first think of them, and having them as pets may be far from our mind. But maybe they make better pets than we realize.
Having an unconventional, smaller pet may be easier to take care of in the long run. Instead of paying for grooming expenses and lots of food, smaller pets tend to eat less and require less maintenance (though it’s important to note that this is not true for all unusual pets — just some of them). Unorthodox pets usually only require a proper cage; so instead of trying to balance a busy school schedule and making sure to take your dog for a walk, you can spend time with your pet indoors without having to sacrifice your free time.
Speaking of late nights and early mornings, nontraditional pets tend to be easier to maintain on a daily basis too. When you have a hedgehog or a rat as a buddy, the only thing you really have to worry about is its cage and the occasional bath. Forget about having to vacuum dog or cat hair every day, and use that time to hang out with your pet (although you probably should vacuum your floors every once in a while).
Additionally, as Growney noted, pets such as rats and hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning they can sleep through your day classes and keep you company as you sleep at night. So, for all of the busy students out there, having a nocturnal pet may be perfect as a buddy to spend a late night study break with. Back to Kendall and Kylie (the rats, that is) — Growney made sure to note that they are pretty cuddly animals once you look past their tails.
One more thing to add as you consider purchasing an unconventional pet is that although some may seem scary or unlike a puppy, unorthodox pets can be very loving. In reality, they are just a bit different from other traditional pets.
“People are usually like ‘Oh my God, you have rats?’” Growney says, talking about his experience with his new pets. “But then they meet them and they totally fall in love with them, so it all works out in the end.”