Fish Stories, and Other Strange Critters

There are two dogs in our household, and others in the past, but I’ve often had other less common pets, meaning those with other than four legs.

When I was six I had a pet corn worm. Yes, one of the little things that you used to find in ears of sweet corn on occasion. (I think they’ve been eliminated in most corn with pesticides and such). I had a box in which I put “Mr. Corn Worm”, and painted his name on the side in model airplane paint (another thing you rarely find any more). I fed him corn and corn silk and put in some green cornhusks to make him comfortable. Of course he only lived a few days, but he was a pet and I was sad when he died. The Arizona summer heat just didn’t work with him ultimately becoming a moth or butterfly.

In junior high I had a pet chameleon that I kept in a wood and wire cage. I also had a little string leash for him so I could take him out and hold him, let him walk on willing people, and so forth. I fed him dead flies and insects with some success. At one point he got the string totally wrapped around his left front foot, and I tried to cut it off with small scissors. However, due to his motions, and/or my clumsiness, I managed to cut off his foot with one snip. I was traumatized, but after he stopped bleeding in about one minute, he didn’t seem to care. He lived for many months more with one front foot, which didn’t seem to limit his activity or mobility much.

My main junior high pets were parakeets. I started with one, then four, including a breeding pair with a breeding box attached to the cage. Over three years of keeping and breeding parakeets, mostly blue ones, all in my own bedroom, I sold many and basically broke even on my expenses for feed. The peak number was 37 for a while, including little chicks. Eventually all were sold or died over the next several years. During that same period for a short period I had a pet bat that I caught in our finished attic and kept in a jar. Mom was so afraid of the bat, and sure I would get rabies, that she made me give it to Animal Control. But for a couple of weeks the bat lived in a jar with insects fed regularly.

At various times throughout my childhood I also had goldfish or fresh water tropical fish. I bred fancy veil tail guppies for several years, and at one time also had black mollies, swordfish, assorted catfish, and a couple of cichlids (relatively large tropical fish from central Africa). One of them, a breed known as a Jack Dempsey for obvious reasons, finally became so large that he ate everything else in the tank. The only solution was to send him to what my siblings called “the great white fish bowl in the sky”. As we had done with others, he was put in, along with some flowers picked by my sisters (usually dandelions), and flushed away. As far as I know the Jack Dempsey was the only one that hadn’t already passed away. And, no, I wouldn’t do that again.

Now I’ve settled on a marine tropical fish tank, and will undoubtedly write more about it later. Gail and I love it, and the dogs of course don’t care.


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