The Most Unusual Pets at MVHS

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Jacob Russell

Out of the 8.7 million different species of animals in the world, humans have consistently picked two common animals to befriend and keep as pets. Those two common creatures are the cat and the dog. Despite cats and dogs being such common pet choices, a few students and staff members at Mount Vernon High School have selected different, less common animals to befriend and keep as pets. 

Mollie Snedden, a freshman at Mount Vernon High School, is the proud owner of an energetic hamster named Luna. Ever since Snedden first saw Luna in the pet store around a year ago, she knew they were destined to be together forever. Luna was the most energetic hamster in the entire store. “She would start to run and no one could stop her,” Snedden said. “She was like the Flash, but in hamster form.” Luna’s coloration was slightly darker than the other hamsters and her exotic blue eyes stuck out like a sore thumb. With Luna in the store, the other hamsters had no chance at being adopted. She was perfect.

She would start to run and no one could stop her. She was like the Flash, but in hamster form.”

— Mollie Snedden

During the day, Luna can be found beneath layers of bedding in her cage curled up like a small fuzzy golf ball. Buried under the bedding with her are her food bowl and running wheel which she loves to hide. During the night, Luna’s personality completely changes. Hamsters, being nocturnal, are most active during the night when most people are trying to sleep. Luna being the ball of fire that she is, constantly runs around making lots of noise in the dark.

After burning energy all night long, Luna gets pretty hungry. Her favorite snack is sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They give her all of the nutrients she needs to keep moving. Sometimes, Luna will be given a special treat.  “My mom likes to feed her bacon, cereal, and a multitude of candies,” Snedden said. “Obviously, these foods aren’t in a hamster’s natural diet and shouldn’t be fed to them.” That does not stop the Snedden family from spoiling Luna every once in a while.

Life with an unusual pet can be different than owning a common pet, such as a dog or cat. Snedden says that unusual pets such as hamsters are usually higher maintenance than other pets. Hamsters require a lot of attention and their cages need to be cleaned out every two weeks. After they find a cozy spot in their bedding and dig in, it can get very dirty, very quickly. Luna’s unique diet also makes finding food for her a challenge as some stores only carry foods for common pets, instead of rarer food for hamsters.

Snedden has really enjoyed living with Luna so far and has made some great memories along the way. Her favorite memory with Luna was from their first month living together. “When I clean her cage, I put her in her ball so she can have free range of the house without escaping or getting hurt,” Snedden said. On this particular day when Snedden was cleaning out Luna’s cage, her mom forgot to close the door at the top of the stairs leading to the basement. “I didn’t pay any attention to where she was at,” she said. “So, Luna found the open door and decided to take a really bumpy ride down the stairs at full speed. All I heard was the sound of plastic hitting the wall and I knew it was her.” Thankfully, Luna was only a little shaken up from the incident and was completely uninjured. Now, while Snedden is cleaning out Luna’s cage, her mom is a little more careful about closing the door at the top of the steps.

My bird, Harley, is very mean. She likes to bite people.”

— Cyrus Zangerle

Another student from Mount Vernon High School also owns a strange animal. However, Cyrus Zangerle, a sophomore, and his pet do not always get along nearly as well. “My bird, Harley, is very mean,” Zangerle said. “She likes to bite people.” Harley is a green cheek conure, a type of parrot typically found flying around the forest of South America. In the wild, they typically eat an assortment of fruits and vegetables. However this specific parrot enjoys chowing down on tortilla chips and sipping Coca-Cola. Zangerle believes that owning an exotic bird like Harley is tougher than owning a dog, because she only has two moods. She is either very loving and content, or Harley likes to bite people. She tends to be grumpy more often than not. “My best memory with Harley is when she flew onto the floor and started attacking my toes,” Zangerle said. 

Sierra Snyder, a freshman at MVHS, also has a hamster instead of a more traditional pet. Her hamster’s name is Amber and she loves to eat sunflower seeds and sugar-free cereal. “She is very bipolar,” Snyder said. Sometimes Amber is calm and friendly and other times, she doesn’t want to stop running around. This combination is what stood out to Snyder when she was picking out a pet. She was the nicest and most energetic choice out of all of the other hamsters. Snyder thinks that owning a hamster is very different from owning a dog, because instead of taking your pet for a walk, you let them roll around your home in their ball. Snyder also thinks that unusual pets seem to get more attention than normal pets. This is most likely the case, because not everyone gets the chance to hang out with such amazing pets every day.

At MVHS, there are some staff members who own strange pets as well. Business teacher Kevin Murray is the owner of Flint, a grumpy old hedgehog. Flint came from a home where he was neglected, which is why he is spooked easily and acts skittish around people. Murray explained that Flint is very similar to a small dog and that he has the same tendencies as one, too. “He likes to ‘bark’ at us,” Murray said. “And he likes to chew on shoes.” The only difference is that Flint has sharp quills running down his back. In nature, these spikes would be used to defend against predators. As the owner of a spiked pet, Murray has to be extra careful when handling him so he does not get poked. When Flint gets dirty, Murray likes to give him a bath. It’s fun for both of them, because Murray likes watching Flint run around and Flint likes to splash around in the warm bathwater. 

Math teacher Kelsey Strope owns a Turtle named Tortuga. He was Strope’s class pet while she taught in West Branch. Once she moved to Mount Vernon, her classroom did not have a great place for Tortuga to live, so he was relocated to her house. Tortuga eats what most herbivores eat, lots of fruits and veggies. He especially likes strawberries, mandarin oranges, and leafy vegetables. Strope does not think owning an unusual pet like a turtle is much different than owning a pet like a dog or cat. They still need the same amount of love and care. “We have a feeding schedule and purchase his food at the grocery store, I guess he eats food we eat too, so this is nice!” she said. Strope also owns a dog and cat. She says that each animal brings their own unique qualities to the family. 

People who do not own an unusual pet are missing out on a world of entertainment. Unique pets bring different aspects of fun to each household and spice up their owners’ lives every day. In the end, whether you own a unique pet or not, we can all agree that without animals by our side, our lives would be a whole lot different than they are today.