Enter the wild side

Varsha Venkat

Students share stories of their unconventional pets.
The phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” might have some truth to it — according to our survey of 427 students, 77% of pet owners have at least one of the two animals. To shed light on the brave souls who venture out into the world of unconventional pet-owning, we interviewed three students who were willing to share stories about their unique — and equally cute — pets.
Chicken boy

Sophomore Jeremy Wang loves chickens — raising them, that is.

“Two years ago, I saw one of my friends [had] chickens in their backyard,” he said, explaining why he chose to keep livestock as pets. “I don’t like the food system that we have today and the [inhumane] way they raise chickens for eggs … I also help the environment and [get] free eggs from the backyard, [so] why not?”

Wang’s parents and younger sister were initially unsure about the new addition to their family, but ultimately supported his choice to raise chickens in their backyard. However, a bigger problem arose: he needed to get the family dog to accept the four chickens he brought home.

“I was scared that my dog would eat [my chickens]. So I got them and [tried] to introduce them slowly,” Wang said. “My dog started shivering and walking up to them, and [a] chicken pecked his nose. So now my dog is scared of chickens forever. Once my chickens tried to step into the house, and my dog went crazy and just barked the loudest bark, and started screeching and running towards them. They have this mutual understanding of the limits.”

Since Wang began raising the chickens, they’ve gifted him with companionship as well as fresh eggs. The chickens follow him around and allow him to pat their heads and “fly” them. Now, even the whole family has bonded with the new pets.

“My sister has separate names for them,” Wang said. “I don’t like to name my chickens … I think that’s a little bit weird. But I can [tell them apart]. There’s a pecking order, and also the shades of their coats are a little bit different, even though they’re the same breed. Chickens have personalities.”

Leaping lizards 

For people who can’t own large and furry pets, geckos might be a good alternative.“Our landlady doesn’t allow dogs or cats,” junior Volodymyr Kolychev said. “But I’d rather have a gecko because [they are] quiet and not annoying.”Kolychev currently owns two geckos, a nocturnal leopard gecko — considered to be more of a starter pet — and a more energetic house gecko. Both are kept in terrariums and don’t require much attention; however, they may yearn for freedom if given the opportunity.

“My house gecko escaped once, and my leopard gecko also tried to escape once,” he said. “And that’s when we found out [my leopard gecko] actually made noises. [It] screams.”

Overall, Kolychev recommends geckos as worthwhile pets to keep. Their quiet nature and few needs are only an added benefit.

Read about more unconventional pets here.