Cats and Dogs are Old News, What About Snakes, Turtles, Birds and Ants?

By Bibi Piets

– Many AUC students keep pets: cats, dogs, and hamsters are all rather common. These fluffy animals can be your warm welcome after a day studying at the AB and can help you through the sometimes-difficult times as a student. But not all pets at the dorms are fluffy and cuddly, though those which are not may be all the more interesting. If you have ever thought of getting a non-conventional animal yourself, then you may find inspiration by these pets and their owners.

Alice Miller, second-year Humanities major, has two turtles in her room. She got them in January from someone who had a lot of reptiles and wanted to get rid of his turtles for a while. “The opportunity arose,” Miller says. After AUC, she is planning on returning the turtles.

The first day Miller picked up her new pets was not as successful as hoped. “When we transported the old tank from his old house to here, it broke,” says Miller.

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Yertle & Squirtle, Miller’s turtles

To Miller, her turtles are perfect, enjoyable and entertaining pets. The turtles are also not very time consuming, only cleaning the tank takes some time, but that only needs to be done once every couple of months. The water needs to be replaced monthly and, of course, she needs to feed them. According to Miller, “as long as you don’t want a pet that you can cuddle, then they are cute.”

Another alternative pet owner is Jessica Tiron, second-year Science major, who has three guinea pigs and a cockatiel. She spends most of her money and time on her animals. When Tiron and her mother left for the Netherlands the cockatiel stayed with her dad in Romania. When her dad also moved to the Netherlands, she decided to take bird with her to the dorms. “I couldn’t have left it with my dad or my mom, as they don’t really take care of the bird,” says Tiron.

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Pacolina, Tiron’s cockatiel

Tiron’s pets are a little harder to handle compared to Miller’s. Tiron sometimes goes nights without sleep as the guinea pigs make a lot of sound during the night and the bird wakes her up the moment the first rays of sunlight enter her window. The cockatiel is attracted to sunlight and when she would let her out of the cage it would not always end well. “She smashed her head into the window twice,” says Tiron.

The reason she still has the animals is because “it is kind of nice not to be alone, especially when you are in a single [room],” says Tiron. Although looking back at her decisions, she might have done it differently. Especially because finding someone who is willing to look after her pets when she is away for the weekend is hard. According to Tiron, “if you find someone, they are not going to take them for a second time.”

Tjalie Wichers Schreur, third-year Science major, has the same problem. Wichers Schreur keeps a ball python, two snails and a small colony of ants in her room. She has created sheets of what people need to do when they take care of her animals to make sure her pets are in good care. She can leave the ants and the snake alone for a longer period of time, but the snails need fresh food every day.

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Loki, Wichers Schreur’s ball python

Wichers Schreur bought the ball python in 2017 and the snails she bought this year. Her ants found their home differently; the queen ant crashed into her room last summer, after which Wichers Schreur decided to keep her. Wichers Schreur really wanted a pet when she moved into a single room, but because of her asthma, it is not ideal to have pets with fur or feathers. Wichers Schreur just wanted something to keep her company and get her out of her bed in the morning.

A lot of research was done before Wichers Schreur felt confident enough to own her pets, especially when she got the snake. “When I got him, I think I never held a snake before that,” she says. Over the years she has found feeding her snake the scariest part, as he strikes very fast. However, as snakes, just like other animals, only attack when they are threatened, Wichers Schreur is determined nothing is going to happen. “I don’t think he will ever see me as food,” she says.

So, when you are thinking of getting a pet in the dorms, you might consider more animals than just cats and dogs; such as snakes, birds and turtles, as they have also proven to be worthwhile companions. Still not sure? Try it out by taking care of these people’s animals over the next break.

Photos by Bibi Piets

Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Tjalie Wichers Schreur was not referred to by her whole last name.

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