Pets of Wageningen

Be they furry or fluffy, slimy or scaly, big and podgy or slender and tender, Wageningen is full of animals you never thought could be pets. The Jester went out to look for WUR students’ most unusual pets.

Freddie is a fat-tailed gerbil. His owner Ymke named him after the belated Mercury, in the hope that he would sing more and bite less, but unfortunately that was in vain. Behind the cuteness lies a stubborn and grumpy little fella that might decide to bury his tiny yet painful teeth into his loving owner’s fingers at random. Ymke once hung up a note on his home with a reminder to not bite the hand that feeds you, but the note didn’t survive long.

This is Achmed, a Savannah monitor. What his owner Hans
likes most about him is that he can distinguish fingers from
food. Achmed loves to hoard; when Hans recently moved, he found a huge pile of socks, shirts and a bathrobe that Achmed had hidden away. Sneaky boy

This blue poison dart frog brings his owner Jaimie a slice of jungle in his very own room. Him and his fellow dart frogs live in a paludarium, which
represents their natural habitat as close as possible with lots of tropical plants, mosses, leaf litter and small invertebrates. When breeding time comes, he releases a silent, almost sad call, that sounds like a buzzing fly is trapped behind a curtain.

Jacques is a Red Congo Puffer, who got his name from the
famous marine biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Puffers are very interactive and have great eyesight; Jacques comes greeting his owner Niels whenever he enters the room. He particularly enjoys racing through the water towards Niels’s fingers. Luckily he is small, or else he could bite his finger clean off.

Nuna 1, Nuna 2, Nuna 3 up to Nuna 7 are leaf insects and masters at camouflage. They can even move around to mimic leaves blowing in
the wind and avoid predators’ attention. When their owner Xuanyu noticed her first Nuna laying eggs, she thought they’d never hatch because there was only one of them. Little did she know, female leaf insects may reproduce by parthenogenesis. Female power!

This is Habanero the salamander. Habanero may seem silly, but he does recognise his owner Dario when he approaches the tank. He sometimes has a difficult time catching the worm he’s being fed; if this happens too
many times, he gets frustrated and swims away without
food. Never give up Habanero!

This is Antopia, the colony of black garden ants that thrives in Antonio’s room. Antonio never ceases to be amazed by how these little creatures
come together; they always seem to be working for a superior common good. If the world can learn something from these insects, Antonio says, it’s that much can be achieved if we unite our efforts. Nowadays, queen ants or developed colonies can be bought online, but a more romantic story brought Antonio and Antopia together. It was a warm summer night in Naples when Antonio, who already had ant-itions, noticed an insect flying on his lamp, which he soon realised was a queen ant. Lucky enough, she had already mated. In her dark, humid and comfortable home prepared by Antonio, she laid her first eggs. She has remained the queen of the colony ’til this day.

Karb & Onkel are Giant African Land snails. Together, their name makes Karbonkel, a monster from a Dutch childrens’ show. These snails are hermaphrodites, so these non-gendered names do the job. Myrthe has witnessed their shells grow from 1 to 8cm in 7 months, and they should continue to 20cm. Myrthe isn’t actually alllowed to have pets in her room, but Karb & Onkel know how to make themselves discrete.

Snakes are incredibly fascinating in their whole way of life; the way they move, eat and drink is so different from other animals, which makes them very cool to watch. Tjomme’s red rat snakes are masters at escaping. The night before family holidays, Tjomme didn’t close the snakes’ terrarium properly and one escaped, only to find a warm spot between the mattress and the bedframe by Tjomme’s feat. This would
concern many as rat snakes are constrictors, but not Tjomme. He was just happy to find his snake in time before departure.

This Giant prickly stick insect is very independent; what his owner Tommaso likes most about his stick insects is that they don’t care about him at all. They relax all day, eat and shit. And apparently, their shit looks like small candy. Tommaso suspects they might come from another dimension – aliens maybe?

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