Sep 6, 201209:03 AMPet Talk
News and info for pet owners in Columbia, Mo.
Ignatius The Frog
Growing up, we never had traditional family pets because my mom has a cat allergy and my dad doesn’t like dogs (I know, I know). That said, my brother and I still had the need for rats and snails and puppy dog tails, so there was rarely a shortage of critters inhabiting some corner of our house. In order, there was a parade of short-lived and long-forgotten goldfish, Waffles the rabbit (our favorite) and a slew of other rodents, birds and the occasional reptile.
When I moved away to college, I had the opportunity to expand — and hopefully improve — my pet ownership resume. In the dorms, I started with a simple betta fish, who, to my great horror, leapt from his overfilled bowl to a non-watery grave in my clothing hamper in the middle of the night. Unfettered by the university’s pet policy, my roommates and I fostered Chamois, a joyful, 12-year-old cocker spaniel from Columbia Second Chance the following year. The year after that, I moved in with a new roommate who brought his demon kitten, Lando (Catrissian), along with him. It suffices to say that after two years living with that biting, scratching, darting beast, I am not a cat person. But there was also a vacancy.
I perused the pet stores at length trying to determine which pets best suited my personality and lifestyle (my apartment does not allow dogs, otherwise it would have been a no-brainer). The fish didn’t impress, and I’d had my fill of small rodents and screeching birds when I was younger. Ultimately I was drawn to the reptile section, and, after debating the respective merits of Chinese Water Dragons and Leopard Geckos, a store employee showed me the Pacman frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli). As you would imagine, it was the typical story of Boy Meets Frog, and I bought him along with all the supplies on the checklist that night.
It took a couple days to name him Ignatius (after Ignatius J. Reilly, the protagonist in A Confederacy of Dunces, as they both have a tendency toward corpulence), but it took even longer to get The Great Glutton of the Argentine to eat. He had taken to hiding deep in the coconut fiber lining his tank for the entire day, and he wouldn’t rise to eat or drink without coercion. As it turns out, this is the frog’s natural response to suboptimal living conditions — too cold, too dry, etc. In a panic, I hopped (pun intended) on the internet and googled the various problems I was having. A few back-and-forths later on a forum devoted to pet frogs, and Ignatius is back to being a happy, not-so-little gourmand.
Even though frogs might not be for you, here are a tips I learned from my experience you can apply to your own pet purchase:
1. Always research your prospective pet purchase before you buy, particularly if it’s a bit on the exotic side.
2. Once you’ve made your decision, set up your pet’s home before you bring it home so you can create perfect conditions without stressing out your new animal right off the bat.
3. Make sure to ask the pet care associate wherever you buy your pet about the animal’s feeding habits. I tried three different food items for my frog before finally finding his preferred prey. Just because many Pacman frogs will eat a certain type of food doesn’t mean all will, just like humans.
4. Investigate the practical side of keeping any given animal. Life expectancy is a very important factor to consider because many pets live for a very long time. If you are the type of person who becomes bored quickly, it would be cruel to select a pet that requires a lot of attention or has a lifespan of several years or longer. You should also be sure that you can fit proper pet care into your budget. Beyond the initial purchase price, many animals require supplements, expensive food or new and bigger homes as they grow.