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An overwhelming overdose of cute...

I  watched Web Soup yesterday, and they showed a YouTube video of a Slow Loris[1] being scritched under its arms, which elicited coos of joy from me (not the loris - they buzz or chitter). They are adorable.

However, they NO IZ PET.

Exotic cuddly animals with big eyes and little tiny paws are incredibly adorable, yes, but good pets they are not (as the site says, they're poisonous, pee everywhere to mark territory, and bite incredibly hard). Not to mention the whole ethical considerations of taking a wild animal and turning it into entertainment, and oh, hey, they're on the threatened and endangered lists, too.

Bush babies (to whom they are related) have a similar death-from-cuteness ratio, and, like all prosimians, they get nachos, since they have thumbs.[2] 

One site I looked at suggested getting sugar gliders if you just have to have an exotic cuddly-appearing pet that will sit in a cage and ignore you, but I'm not that hep on the idea of anything that jumps a lot and likes to bite.

Of course, I'm a total hypocrite, and dream of getting a hedgehog someday, but I would argue in my defence that hedgehogs do not jump (though they do like to swim, apparently)[3], therefore are not as difficult to catch, which makes them more suited to being a pet.

That this rationalization makes no sense is part of what gives it such effectiveness.  Bow to my superior powers of not-reasoning!

The other possibility is a rat, and this I do not feel bad about, because rats and humans have a somewhat symbiotic relationship at this point (I give you food, you give me plague; everyone wins). But in the end, one should probably stick to the animals one knows best - cats and dogs.

Now, I do not deny that a slow loris, is, on the surface, cuter than a cat (you know, except for when they're itty-bitty kitties and, for me, hairless, but that's my obsession, not yours), a cat does have certain advantages over a slow loris, to whit:

1. Cat less likely to bite for absolutely no reason (biting reserved for when hungry, playing, or pissed at human).

2. Cat's bite marginally less poisonous (staph infection, ahoy).

3. Cat less clingy on day-to-day basis (except when it senses human needs to do something important, at which point, it hangs on like radioactive flypaper)[4].

4. Cat more likely to choose one place to urinate (next to the litterbox or in human's shoes preferred).

And a slow loris requires a lot less walking and grooming than a dog, but the dog, too has advantages the slow loris lacks:

1. Dog much less likely to bite for no reason (biting reserved for when toys are taken away, and mailman arrives).

2. Dog eliminates waste outside (unless purse-sized dog). (Recommended: Waterproof purse.)

3. Dog better at guarding house at night (though the possibilities of a nocturnal creature biting intruders' ankles with no warning is intriguing).

4. Dog will play Fetch for hours (and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours...).

So, clearly, though considerably less likely to bump your YouTube viewing stats once past kitten/puppyhood, a dog or a cat is a far more sensible choice.

Personally, I'm still leaning towards a rat. The similarities are remarkable:

1. Rat will also chomp on stuff all the time.

2. Rat also fuzzy and likes tummy scritches (once trained with cattle prod).[5]

3. Rat also pees everywhere.

Not to mention the advantages:

1. Rat much cheaper than slow loris (free, if you hit the DC sewers with a live trap).

2. Rat shorter-lived, so committment is less long-term.

3. Not neccessary to fly to Thailand/Malaysia/Vietnam/Bangladesh for fresh rat food (rat usually happy with whatever you are eating)[6].

Plus, owning a rat does not require an investment in bite-proof gloves.

Or, I could just get a fake one.

[1] I'll update with a link when I am at a computer that does not block access.

[2] My friend Tracy and I used this completely arbitrary critera to determine the relative sophistication of animals - any animal that can hold a nacho chip laden with cheese and other good stuff and eat it without sticking its head into the bowl (therefore violating the "double-dipping" rule) gets nachos (and the keys to the car). Therefore, mice, raccoons, bush babies, lemurs, and all primates get nachos, but squirrels, cats, and dogs do not (squirrels prefer corn chips, cats will lick the cheese off everything and leave you with soggy bare nachos, and dogs can't really grok the concept of sharing). The idea of giving a slow loris the keys to the car is amusing, but rest assured they can't do too much damage, since they only drive 3 mph. That, and they can't reach the pedals.

[3] Link, non-blocked computer, etc.

[4] I am well aware that this joke makes no logical sense.

[5] It should not need saying, but joke.

[6] And anything edible you have thrown out, electrical wires, and the stuffing from soft toys.


( 23 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
I always wanted a hedgehog too. Started when I saw them on some show that displayed a "Hedgehog Hospital" in G.B. Very cool critters.

Cats in my opinion make ideal SCA pets. They aren't particularly needy, and with a big bowl of food and an automated cat box, they can be left for several days.

Best part is if you get two you get added benefits:

* They have a playmate to mess with so they don't put on a ton of weight.

*They have a playmate so they occupy each other instead of tearing up your house or peeing in your shoes for attention.

* Watching them attempt to beat each other up or "make out" (mutual grooming) beats tv any day.

However, if you would like a combination dog/rat, I am sure I could get Yap Yap to you. I just have to wait till Munky is gone for a weekend....

Nov. 4th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Nachos with cheese? Just try eating that in my kitchen with the cat around! You will find him either in your lap or on the floor staring at you with the look "where is mine?" He licks the cheese off and then (sometimes) eats the chip. He's also been known to eat the jalapeno flavored ones, too. Oh, and he doesn't need his own thumb. He uses mine!

And yesterday, he "helped" me paint Donal's banner -he now has a yellow paw and ear.

Cats! Gotta love 'em.
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
My sister was once campaigning for a sugar glider. She was telling me about the store that had them and how cool it was that the store also had kawatimundi (can't find proper spelling) I told her to never step foot in that store again. There are some animals that just should NOT be sold for pets.

Me, I'm a ferret junkie. Cute and curious like kittens for life, loyal and loving like dogs, and SUPER portable and low maintenance. Downsides are the huge medical bills and short life spans :(
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
Coatimundi. I knew a woman who had one, once, when I was very young. She'd converted half her basement into a habitat for it, but it was definitely not good pet material.
Nov. 4th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Those things are cute as they can be, but way not in the pet material category. Saw one in Mexico hiss at a kid that tried to pet it. Thought it was time for stitches for a second there.
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
I could go on for hours about animals that should not be pets. High on the list: Prairie dogs. Little furry bundles of abject evil. Also prone to chew off their one "parts" after neutering. (long story).

Sugar gliders - just no.

Hmmm, would you like the story about the guy who bought his girlfriend a golden retriever pup, then couldn't find it when he got home? And didn't realize what had happened until his boa constrictor wouldn't eat for weeks.

Chinese water dragon - no.

And there's the woman who hates me because I referred to her goat as "livestock."

Oh, and as a side note - naming your cat or dog "Precious" seems to have the side effect of opening a gateway to hell and causing said animal to become demon-possessed. Please don't.

Nov. 4th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, would you like the story about the guy who bought his girlfriend a golden retriever pup, then couldn't find it when he got home? And didn't realize what had happened until his boa constrictor wouldn't eat for weeks.

I shouldn't laugh, but so help me, I did. That takes remarkable absent-mindedness.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who has had a rat for a pet. Before you get a rat, you should make sure you can stand the smell. On the other hand, if you get tired of a rat, you can give it to someone who has a snake for a pet and they will be grateful. (as long as you don't mind that the rat will become part of the great circle of life.)
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
If kept clean, female rats smell like grape soda, and male rats like corn chips (don't ask me why; I've observed the effect myself, though). It's leaving the cage full of waste matter that creates the smell; bunnies are the smae way. Male bunnies have a strongly-scented pee, but if their cage is kept clean, it really doesn't smell (though I recommend a mat if you're keeping the rabbit indoors, since they like to pee in one corner, and can pee outside the cage).
Nov. 4th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
I had no idea about the grape soda smell! I had only corn chips males.
Nov. 4th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
Come to mention it Nina did have a grape soda smell, but I never noticed the corn chip males since she's been my only.
Nov. 4th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
I've also heard it compared to sandalwood, but I can't remember which gender it was now. To me, it's just "rat".

I always point out to people how they'd smell if they lived in one room with no running water. After a week, we'd smell a whole lot worse than they do.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
A long time ago my Dad worked in a lab in grad school and for whatever reason they had a slow loris. He said the female grad student who was helping was a little too enamoured by it's cuteness. The conversation went somewhat like:
Oh, it's so cute. Look, it's turning it's head towards me. Oh, look, it's opening it's mouth. Ouch!

It apparently bit her breast. I don't think she was as amused with the slow loris after that.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)

There's a funny story on the research site I linked to of a visitor thinking the lorises were cute and "why do you need the gloves? I don't need gloves". Needless to say, she was less amused an hour later, nursing the bite.

"I will love him and squeeze him and call him Bitey". :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
I've kept (and bred and shown) pet rats for quite a few years now. They do get nachos by your criteria (although I love to watch them eat goldfish crackers and teddy grahams!). And there are hairless ones, if that floats your boat.

They don't actually pee everywhere, and they love scritches (no cattle prod required). My daughter once accidentally trained one to give kisses.

The thing is, it's best to get one from a breeder. Pet store rats are mass-produced, mostly as reptile food, regardless of what an individual store's policy is. Good temperament and disposition is VERY much learned from their mother and from early socialization, and while you can train a non-socialized rat to be handled, most never get completely trusting. You can get a terrific rat from a pet store, but it's a crap shoot - it's very difficult to judge adult temperament in a baby, even with experience.
Nov. 4th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, if you get one DO get two... they are so social, and so friendly with each other as well as with humans.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
My dear son wanted a manatee when he was about 6. Was going to keep it in the bath (I don't think he had a clue as to how big they are!). He wanted to call it "Hugh".

That's the closest I've gotten to exotic pets. I did find a drunken hedgehog in the garden when we lived in Walsingham. We had apple trees and the hedgehog had been eating fermented windfall apples. It was *very* drunk and very thirsty.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine had a hedgehog. She named it Teasel. It was cute, but couldn't actually be handled without gloves.

We have three cats. All three are almost dog-like in their attention and devotion to us. They're completely indoor creatures.

Cat psychology is fascinating. With humans they bond with, psychologically, they are still kittens. But they can turn feral and adult if need be. It's an interesting adaptive mechanism.

I do wonder how "domesticated" the slow lorises become if they are raised by hand from infanthood. A grade school teacher of mine had a descented skunk as a pet (it had been orphaned) and the thing was a complete cuddlebug.
Nov. 4th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
My younger sister got a hedgehog after I moved out; initially it was sweet and adorable, and quite willing to be handled by humans. This seems to have been entirely due to the consistent, significant attention from the previous owner, though, and under slightly less reliable affection, it wasn't long before the poor thing was scared to be picked up and likely to bite. (Not that a hedgehog bite is particularly dangerous, but it was sad to see.) I don't mean to imply that she was abusive, or particularly neglectful, just that she didn't devote the hour(s) every single day for play time - and that's what this animal needed. (No idea if that's normal for hedgehogs or not.) Within a year, it was given to someone who I can only hope was a bit more committed.

And exactly the same story repeated itself with a chinchilla a couple years later. Another example of IZ NOT PET, in my estimation. I'm happy to report that she has learned her lesson now, and is getting along fabulously with the "I don't really need you" attitude of a cat.
Nov. 4th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
This brings up the really important part of having a pet, after seeing to its basic food and hygiene needs:

You need to PET it regularly. Animals that are taken on by humans need to be loved regularly and lots. It kills me when I watch programs where parrots have been left alone in cages with no conversation or play for months on end, or dogs have never learned what it's like to have their tummy rubbed.

Some people should have their animal taken away and replaced with a soft toy replica; it won't make any difference to how they interact with it, after all. >:(
Nov. 4th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
One comment -
I have a cat that will eat nachos, cheese and chip and all.... the also loves potato chips. If she hears the crunch of a chip, she's right there...

Also, as for the "aloof kitty" syndrome... we have two cats and both are about as clingy as velcro (a case of be careful what you wish for).

I've had a hamster and a cockatiel, but pound for pound (or ounce for ounce if we're talking about the bird... you can't beat a dog for that whole "unconditional love and affection" thing
Nov. 4th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Obviously I adored my Nina-rat. I think I got really lucky with her because she was a dear. And she was accidentally litter/cedar trained so she only went where there was bedding. I think the accidental training was when she peed outside of her cage I'd put her in the cage in order to clean up, thus the association. She could run around on the couch or me for hours so long as I periodically put her back in the cage for her business.

Also, obviously if you need to scritch a belly, Ladybug is always ready and willing. :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
Those needle-felt animals are amazing! And much less mess than real, except for the moth-attraction issues.
Cats are super cute (I <3 sphinx, too, sooo cute!)
( 23 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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