The recent escape of a captive rhea in Hertfordshire (of all places) has made me wonder - amongst other things - why anyone would want to keep such extravagant birds as pets. They can, after all, decapitate you just by looking at you. And it can’t be easy to replicate the endless pampas ranges of South America in deepest commuter-belt Harpenden or St Albans.
These creatures remained the most unusual pets I’d personally come across until a Blue Bus listener brought in a sandwich box with two tarantulas in it. Fearlessly, I insisted that he stand 100m away in a sealed lead box behind a wall.
All this is by way of saying that, in the last few days, this list has been blasted clean out of the water by news of the most utterly inexplicable pet I’ve ever come across.
An otherwise admirably sensible friend told me - over a cappuccino and a chocolate brownie - that someone he knew kept a ‘hissing cockroach’ as a pet. He countered what must have been my self-evident disbelief by showing me a photograph much like this one…
But my fecund imagination is defeated completely by the thought that, not too far from Robinson Towers, a hissing cockroach is being stroked, talked to and fed by its adoring owner.
The heart, though, has its reasons. And I’ll be smirking on the other side of my face if that cockroach-owner grows into a world famous entomologist and presents programmes about them on BBC Four.
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