Most of the "adventurous" people we know feel the need to get reptiles or tarantulas in order to have interesting pets. It seems that an animal can't be exciting unless the majority of the population finds it inherently creepy. But Fido and Miss Kitty may not be as boring as you think...
You knew the dog would be on this list. One of the most popular pets, if not the most popular pet, the dog has held a special place in human history.
But here’s what you may not have known about man’s best friend: The ancient Egyptians worshipped Sirius, known as the “dog star” because it was faithful when it came to showing up at the right time to warn them of Nile floods. The Romans classified dogs into three different categories: hunting-dogs, sheepdogs, and watchdogs. And we know dogs have been domesticated for at least 14,000 years, but there’s evidence that they may have been domesticated as much as 135,000 years ago – That’s right, dogs may have had our backs before we were even technically homo sapiens. We think you owe Spot a milk bone right about now.
For some reason, a lot of people seem to call themselves either “dog people” or “cat people,” as opposed to someone who is a “dog and cat person.” Cat people tend to have (comparatively) worse reps by default of having “crazy cat lady” in their ranks.
Cat people have perfectly awesome reasons for loving cats, though. Small cats can detect frequencies of up to 40,000 Hz. They’ve (probably) been domesticated for 10,000 years, and not only did Egyptian religions honor cats, but Norse religions did, too. In the Middle Ages, though, cats were tortured and burned as witches. Sorry about that, cats.
Some of us may be sick of rabbits eating up the treasures of our strawberry patches…but for those of us who still have a soft place in their hearts for these reproductive machines, there are plenty of reasons to love them.
American rabbits don’t usually make it a point to burrow, but if they come across another animal’s abandoned burrow, they’re down for moving in and putting up their David Bowie posters. Also, while eating plants, rabbits poop soft pellets…which they eat…then poop as hard pellets. From a surface perspective, this is gross in a way that the five-year-old in us will never get over. But if you think about it, having the guts to use the nutrients from its waste basically makes the rabbit the Bear Grylls of the domesticated animals.
Your classroom friend was always a reliable little guy. Gentle, clean, and pretty adorable, the hamster was a great starter pet that you could grow too attached to, then get confused about when you came back to class after the weekend to find it had changed in both shape and color.
But did you know that some species of hamsters are actually pretty vicious? Makes sense – They had to be domesticated from something, right? Rat-tailed, or Eurasian, hamsters are vegetarians for the most part, but that doesn’t mean they don’t bare their claws and try to include other rodents, lizards, and birds in their diet, too. Hamsters in general have scent glands in their flanks that they use to mark their territory, which is like you being able to mark your territory by excreting glands from your lower back. Don’t think about it too much.
Fish are by far one of the greatest disappointments you can have a child. You’re excited to finally have a pet, to have a new companion to play with, something like the playful puppy your friend has. And then you realize that you and the fish share absolutely ZERO interests in common besides eating. At this point, you’d even accept a hamster.
There is, however, a lot happening with fish that younger minds tend to have a difficult time fully appreciating. Fish from the open sea will lay many, many, many eggs in the hopes of perpetuating the species: Cod can produce as many as 28 million, but it’s unlikely that more than 28 of that 28 million will survive. Imagine your mom giving birth to 28 million kids at one time. Actually, never mind, don’t imagine that.
Despite the fragility of the extremely young, fish can be pretty tough. Most fish swallow their prey whole; instead of using their teeth to chew, they use it to grab and orient their meal. Also, some species of fish have barbels, which are whiskerlike structures around their mouths that have tastebuds on them. That would be like being able to taste with your mustache. Mmm.