Pets, Continued

I think it was because of a show and tell subject, but when I was five I seriously wanted a tarantula. I know a lot of people aren’t fond of spiders, but somehow the larger the better for me. Not that I generally enjoy them crawling on me – I don’t. However, if I had a pet spider I’m sure I’d make an exception.

I’m not sure what draws people to exotic pets. Many of us don’t think farther than cats or dogs unless we get the cool factor involved or unfortunate allergies. The “cool factor” isn’t the best reason to get one, according to exoticpets.about.com.

I knew a woman many years ago who had flying squirrels and chinchillas. She lost a flying squirrel in her car, but I suppose that happens when you take them out of the cage. Never did hear what happened to it.

Many stories don’t feature pets. When you do put a pet into a story, it’s important to take the time to develop the character and explore what it means for the plot. Sure, it might also just be fun to mention that your best friend has a pet snake, but if it doesn’t actually mean anything it might be like the gun that doesn’t go off – a distraction that must be dealt with during revision.

If, instead, your friend runs an exotic pet boutique, it might be weird that her home isn’t a menagerie of critters. Or it might be the starting point of a short story that she can’t handle more life forms to feed and house while she’s at home and she made friends (and even named) her plants.

All right, I’ll admit it: I named my house plants for a while. I had three until my husband liberated them from my tender care. By which I’m saying nicely that they held on to survival by sheer willpower. I do better with actual animals. Somehow the blinds were closed and I’d forget to water those poor plants for too long at a time, but they had names!

Probably best if I stick with the child for some time. She’s thriving. Someone might even attempt to draw a correlation between the intelligence of the life form I care for and how well I care for it.

Which brings more questions for the writer about the character and the types of pet he or she might choose. What do you choose for your characters? Did a pet ever steal the scene? Do you consider writing animals in or out depending on the needs of the story? What pets other than cats and dogs have you run into or even had the pleasure of owning?

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2 Comments

  1. Shawna M said,

    26 September 2011 at 12:03

    I personally have had fish, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs and newts. We currently have fish (3 tanks at one time), cats and a dog. We did have a frog in one of the fish tanks for a little while, but he kept jumping out. One day he jumped out when no one was home, and just disappeared. It’s possible a cat ate him, but it’s also possible we’ll find a tiny frog mummy when we move out of our house. One of the guys I went to college with has all kinds of reptiles both lizards and snakes and he also has a few tarantulas. *shudder* My aunt has had fish, lizards (cute little green anoles and an iguana), hermit crabs, and she also had a bird for a while (he went on walk-about during a cage cleaning, and had the best summer of his life–we’re assuming.) This past June my daughter, Makaya, had a pet frog for a few days, but I made her release it back into the wild (she found it on our front window) when she was unable to catch food for it. She has also briefly had pet praying mantises, but after a few days of her catching house flies and feeding them to the mantis, I get tired of having a bug in my house on purpose, and I make her let it go.

  2. ransomnoble said,

    26 September 2011 at 13:33

    So are your fish angry?

    http://news.discovery.com/animals/most-home-aquarium-fish-110923.html

    I think we used to have angry, aggressive fish. [The cichlids used to eat the bettas, so we stopped getting bettas.] We don’t have fish anymore, but I find that concept fascinating. Maybe your frog got tired of being angry so he jumped away. Or, perhaps since frogs have longer memories than fish (I think), he had time to figure out an escape plan.


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