Ordinary homes welcome wild pets

Quinn Guffey

Along with a stack of homework, some students come home to a scaly man or a furry lady friend. These animals, usually a reptile or a mammal from outside of the United States, often require more care and conscious effort.
Rachel Woods, a senior at Rolla High School, has had many types of animals.
“I’ve had lots of exotic animals. I used to have a chinchilla a couple years ago. I had him for about a year and a half. I don’t remember his name, it was a while ago. My mom has had a lot of bearded dragons, I think about four. Right now we have two. One is named Remy, like the rat from Ratatouille. The other is named Covey. We have had those [bearded dragons] for about a year now,” said Wood.
On the other end of the high school spectrum, freshman Jay Smith has also had many exotic pets.
Reptiles require more care than a cat or dog.
“They require heat lamps, which are sometimes hard to find in Rolla. It inspires me to stay warm, they just sit under the heat lamp all day, and I think, ‘Wow, they must have a nice life,’” said Woods.
“I’ve had around 15 animals I think, probably more than that. I had an alligator when I was really young. She had a huge tank with a water area and a land area, and it was all inside. We had three sugar gliders; Rubio, Princess, and Fat-Boy. They would get out of their cages a lot and when we would hold them they’d always try to fly all over us. We had a little sugar glider pouch and that’s how we would carry them around,” said Smith.
Although having unusual pets is fun, finding resources for them in a small town can be challenging.
“Our sugar gliders got really sick at one point. We didn’t really know what to do. We were trying to do our research on what to do about it and find out what was wrong, there just aren’t that many resources here,” says Smith.
With the hardships, having exotic animals also comes with bragging rights.
“I think a pro of having a weird pet is that you’re automatically cooler, and you get to take cool pics with your cool pets. A con is how much care you have to give them. I go on so many Petsmart runs to go buy the little stinky mealworms you have to feed them all the time,” said Woods.