Pets--beyond the range of cats and dogs

I firmly believe kids should have pets. Our kids had all the normal pets, plus a few non-normal (abnormal?) ones. They had dogs and cats, lambs, calves, pigs and the odd goat or two. By the time they were four, they each had their own horse.

Our daughter ran barrels and poles on the sweetest mare named Ammer. They were a great team. Our oldest son had two goofy horses, Bugsy when he was younger, and Ruff Luck Lynx, aka, Lucky. Somehow he managed to coax success from both of them. Our youngest son was fortunate enough to have a huge, gentle, talented horse we called Rimrock. When we first got him, Joe was five years old. He’d sit on Rimrock in a pen with no bridle or saddle while I saddled the other horses. It was the safest place for him to be as some of the horses I rode were colts and not too predictable. Rimrock was one of the best babysitters we ever found.

 Besides all the regular pets they had, they picked up a few odd ones along the way. My daughter brought a hermit crab home from a trip to the coast, and it lived for years. We’d find a bigger shell every once in a while, and it would move to better quarters.

Every Easter weekend for years, there was a large barrel racing and team roping in the small town of Murphy, Idaho. While the adults roped and ran barrels, the kids had fun catching Horned Toads. They grew in abundance in the desert area surrounding the Murphy rodeo grounds. Smokey brought several home over the years, and they were fun pets. He’d catch ants and feed the toads.

My youngest son’s weird pet was a snake. I know that sounds fairly ordinary, lots of kids have snakes, but I didn’t know he'd caught it and was keeping it in his room. I was cleaning one day and lifted a stack of fabric. Underneath was a dried snake skin. His secret pet snake was on the loose and had shed its skin. We never found the snake, and I was jumpy for quite a while.

The most unusual pet the kids ever had was a spider. It made a web behind the curtain rod, and being the fastidious house cleaner that I am I didn’t discover it for several months. (No comments on my housekeeping skills here. I’ve heard them all from my mother.) Smokey discovered that if he got a tiny piece of hamburger and tossed it into the web, the spider would run out, snag it and scurry back to the center of his web. He’d wrap it all up into a ball and eat on it for several days until all the moisture was gone.
One of the kid’s favorite sports was to take a piece of popcorn and toss it into the web. The little spider would race out, grab the popcorn and spin it into a ball. Then it would taste it, realize there wasn’t any moisture, or maybe it just didn’t like popcorn, and would cut it loose and drop in onto the carpet.
The spider lived behind the curtain all one winter. As the weather warmed up the next spring, one day, it was gone.

What are some of the stranger pets you’ve had during your lifetime? Bet you can’t beat a spider.


  1. What a great post! We had horses, dogs, cats, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, snakes, birds, quail, rabbits... let me think - a gecko. Is that it?
    We also had a babysitter horse - my youngest was a terrible rider so she'd just sit on him while the rest of us rode around her. Funny. Most horses like children. Have you noticed that?

  2. Most horses seem to know kids are harmless. We also had a talking bird who'd say hello and his name Jocko. He learned to mimic me calling my youngest to get up.