On living with pets

The society finches we share our lives with are adorably cute and funny and annoying and sweet — so much so that despite having 10 of them already, the kids have recently started clamouring for more. There was an egg, you see. I found it in the water dish of all places. Not sensibly in the nest, oh no! The nest was empty of eggs and has remained empty of eggs for the past several weeks, but I most definitely did not put that lone, watery egg in the nest for the finches to brood over.

I composted it.

And then the whining begging began.

Given how sweet our little flying things are, I seriously considered keeping the next clutch of eggs. For about three nanoseconds, which is the length of time it took me to remember that we really only wanted a pair of birds and somehow we wound up with 8 more after several successful clutches.

If you are a parent, I am sure you are well aware of how persistent children can be when they are on a mission. In very short order, B announced that if we wouldn’t get more birds, we should at least get her a lizard. Or a turtle. Or several turtles. Or maybe a snake.

The Man We Call Dad immediately vetoed the snake.

After looking up the cost of turtles and the fragility and long lifespan of lizards and the fact that both can carry salmonella and other things, we vetoed the lizards and turtles, too.

So she asked for a hamster. Or a gerbil. Or a guinea pig. Or a rat. Or rather, two rats, since rats like having company.

And then K started asking about finding a larger home for his cichlid, who was rapidly outgrowing his aquarium. Almost as quickly as K was outgrowing his pants. He mentioned a gray parrot, too, since it would be cool to have a bird that had the intelligence of a 6 year old and could be trained to talk.

I vetoed the parrot on the grounds that I am quite enjoying my children’s new found 10 and 12 year old maturity and am not prepared to go back to having a 6 year old in the house, nevermind a 6 year old who will stay 6 years old for the next 100 years or so, outliving not just me and my children, but putting a healthy dent into my grandchildren’s lives as well.

But the cichlid did need a new home, which meant a new aquarium. K threw himself into studying cichlid habitats and fishkeeping to determine what kind of tank to get next. And then he threw himself into learning everything he could about water quality and optimum aquarium conditions, right down to learning some of the chemistry. And then he threw himself into investigating filtration systems and living biological ecosystems.

And then he had a birthday, which meant we bought him a lovely large bow-front aquarium and a new stand to go with it. Which meant we had room for a few dither fish to keep his cichlid company. And for more cave-like rock things, and plastic plants (since cichlids will eat the real ones in no time).

Which also meant that we now had an empty aquarium that was just begging to be filled.

So we did.

And then one of their aunts called and offered us her aquarium, fish included, as she is redecorating and has no more room for fish.

And I said yes.

Which had the inevitable result of redoubling B’s begging efforts. She got sneaky, that girl of ours. She started mentioning oh-so-casually in conversation that if she were to be a vet, which is a distinct possibility, she would need animals to practice on first.


Well okay, not practice exactly. But care for, at least. And the more kinds of animals, the better.

She started collecting pamphlets on different reptile species from the pet store and leaving them out in really conspicuous places. She started taking notes from the aforementioned pamphlets and leaving her notes out in equally conspicuous, but different, places.  She even came up with a list of names she could name her lizards, if she did manage to convince us to get her a lizard.

But through it all, what she really kept asking about was the birds. Almost daily, she asked if I had seen eggs. And what I was planning to do if I did, in fact, find another egg. And why, exactly, I was determined to limit our household to just 10 birds when I obviously had no such issue with fish.

Okay, I admit she might have a point on that one, but birds are far messier than fish. And noisier. And smellier.

As are lizards.

And turtles.

And we won’t even discuss snakes.

Maybe hatching another clutch of birds wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.



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