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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
Pets of all kinds — some familiar, some
bizarre — are treasured companions and
curiosities for animal aficionados. Yet
living with other species poses risks. Pets
can kill or maim in bizarre and
unexpected ways. We’re not talking dog
bites; we are talking lethal lizards,
arthropod attacks, hamster hazards,
freak fish tank infections, parasite
rampages, and chlamydia death by

10. Parrot Fever

Cockatiels and other small parrot family
members are popular pets. But birds
kept as pets can carry nasty diseases, and
in one notorious case a death alleged to
have come from a pet store-purchased
cockatiel led to a lawsuit. The cause? A
type of chlamydia (albeit an avian one)
transmissible to humans and, in rarer
cases, from an infected human to a non-
infected human. Transmission may take
place by “kissing” a bird, breathing
dropping-derived particles, or from
simply handling the bird. Parrot Fever is
rare, with less than 10 cases of the
disease occurring in the United States
annually from 2010 onward.

The disease-causing organism is
genetically related to the common type
of chlamydia notorious as a sexually
transmitted disease passable between
humans, but is a different organism,
known as Chlamydia psittaci. Symptoms
of parrot fever in affected humans
include fever, coughing, chills, muscle
weakness, diarrhea, nausea, and
exhaustion. Bird symptoms include
weight loss, discharges, dropping color
changes and lethargy. While parrots are
famous as potential transmitters of the
disease, other types of birds may also
carry the infection including ducks,
chickens, turkeys, pigeons and songbirds.

Cases mostly occurring where large
numbers of birds are being reared for
food, eggs or kept as pets. The disease is
known from countries as far apart as
Australia and England, but is more
common in the tropics.

9. Fish Tank Infections

Doing some maintenance on an
aquarium? Nicked yourself on the tank
frame in the process? Might be up for
losing a finger or worse, in extreme
cases. Fish tanks can contain a wide
variety of pathogens, and open cuts or
scratches can be cause for a nasty
infection. Mycobacterium marinum
infections can cause horrific symptoms,
as one teen discovered after cutting her
hand in a fish tank. Chronic infection,
surgery, and spread of infection into
deep tissue resulted. Amputations may
result in the worst cases. The bacteria
can be best avoided by first making sure
there is no open wound or cut on your
hand, and second, washing your hands
very well after any aquarium
maintenance or contact with the fish.

Furthermore, be sure as a fishkeeper to
never mix household utensils with
aquarium maintenance gear, or to suck
on a siphon when changing the water.
Another threat posed to the careless
aquarist is the chance of salmonella
exposure from actual fish and also other
popular aquatic life, such as newts or
aquatic reptiles. The disease can lead to
severe gastrointestinal symptoms and
even death in severe cases.

8. Tarantula Hair Shooting

Are you thinking a tarantula would look
cool? Well, it’s not about just avoiding a
bite. The enormous arachnids may
constitute the spider world’s answer to
King Kong, but their venomous
capabilities are often overrated while a
more insidious danger posed by the
animals is frequently overlooked. You
might even have trouble looking at the
tarantula after an attack of flying hair.

No, porcupines do not “shoot” their
quills, but tarantulas can shoot their
sharp hairs, potentially causing serious
eye injuries. Tarantula bodies are
covered in fine hairs, with the hairs on
their huge, bulbous abdomens known as
setae being tipped with pain-inducing

Upon an encounter with an adversary,
which could simply be an insufficiently
trained animal handler, the irate
tarantula can use its legs to flick the
abdomen hairs into the “victim” in one
of the most dextrous types of combat
used by any animals. Alternatively,
tarantulas may simply rub their belly up
against the target, pushing the harpoon-
like hairs into the flesh of the enemy.

Handlers may suffer pain in the hands,
but the worst cases involve some nasty
eye symptoms arising from the presence
of multiple mini-harpoons being jabbed
into the eyeballs , having to be removed
by doctors using tweezers

7. Hamster Bites

Hamsters are incredibly popular small
pets, resembling a small bear but related
closely to mouse and gerbil species.
Syrian Hamsters, a larger species, are
the most popular, while Russian Dwarf
Hamsters and Chinese Hamsters are also
sometimes kept. When disturbed,
hamsters can inflict a nasty bite with
their incisor teeth, potentially leading to
numerous medical complications.
Hamster bites have been known to
trigger fatal allergic reactions in the
form of anaphylaxis, a problem facing a
small but still concerning number of
hamster owners.
In one especially sad case, a former
policewoman and mother of three
children from Singapore died when one
of two fighting hamsters bit her as she
tried to break up the conflict. She
quickly experienced pain and numbness ,
then lapsed into a coma and later died
despite six days of medical attention.
Additionally, cases of the infectious
disease Tularemia, alternatively called
rabbit fever or deer fly fever, have been
reported from exposure to hamsters
carrying the infectious bacteria species
Francisella tularensis. Symptoms include
eye inflammation, lymph node swelling,
skin irritation, and lung problems.
Clearly, the ability of hamsters to bite
and the risk of either allergy or infection
warrants care, not complacency when
dealing with these pets

6. Pet Primate Horrors

Granted, monkeys and apes are our
closest living relatives, given that us
humans ourselves count as a primate
species. One might therefore be forgiven
for assuming that other species of
primates would make ideal companion
animals. You know, instead of a dog,
something even more like us. However,
not only are many species of primates
endangered, they pose catastrophic risks
of infection and physically violent
conflicts with humans in home care, or
rather, captivity. Macaques, a popular
smaller monkey type, may carry Herpes
B, a terrifying cousin of the familiar cold
sore virus that is able to kill a human.
Infection may set in after a macaque
bite, or even a mere scratch from a

Scarier yet is you cannot know for sure
if your macaque is a carrier of the
deadly Herpes B virus, as negative test
results are sometimes inaccurate. Zoos
have to treat all macaques as potential
carriers. Due to the dangers posed by
primates to humans, the United States
has banned primate imports for the pet
trade since 1975. Still, that doesn’t mean
people have stopped sourcing animals
already imported or bred in captivity for
other purposes at their own risk.

Physical attacks by monkeys may cause
owners to inhumanely remove the
animal’s teeth, while aggression from
non-human apes like Chimpanzees, the
larger relatives of monkeys, has led to
horrendous incidents like the attack on
Charla Nash by her friend’s chimpanzee
in 2002.

Continue reading below

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
5. Stabbed, Sliced, and Diced

Goldfish, guppies, and betta fish may all
be extremely safe pets, but did you know
that quite a few of the little fish you see
in aquarium shops and home tanks could
never come close to biting you but still
leave you running for the emergency
room? That is because a number of the
most beautiful small tropical fish
available are concealed-carry dagger
masters. They hide their razor sharp
bony knives in the strangest places, while
other fish surreptitiously swim around
with a venom-bearing hypodermic
needle of sorts on their back, ready to
sting like a wasp or scorpion.

Clown Loaches are ever popular
freshwater aquarium fish but beneath
their eyes lie folding, extremely sharp,
knife-like bony blades. If provoked, the
animals can slice into your hand and
cause a nasty injury. In the case of tangs
— the colorful, roughly disk-shaped
tropical fish — they can inflict a nasty
cut with sharp bony blades located near
their tail fins. If that wasn’t enough, a
wide variety of aquarium catfish possess
venom-bearing spines in their fins that
may inflict a nasty sting should you be
careless enough to pick them up without
a fish net.

4. Cat Scratch Fever

Cat scratches may be painful, but the
resulting infection could send you to the
hospital. These popular tiny relatives of
tigers and lions are carriers of Bartonella
henselae bacteria, which causes the
illness popularly termed “cat scratch
fever.” The affliction presents as a
cluster of symptoms that may include
blistering, exhaustion, headaches,
lymphatic swelling, fever, weight loss,
and a sore throat. The disease is far
from harmless and it is surprisingly
prevalent. The Centers for Disease
Control states that around 12,000 people
are estimated to contract the condition
yearly. Of those 12,000 , about 500
sufferers end up in the hospital.
Antibiotics may be required in cases
prone to complications, while lymphatic
swelling may take a year to go down.
Severe complications, while less
common, are nonetheless horrendous.
These scary problems include
encephalopathy, which can bring about
permanent damage to the brain or death
following a bacterial invasion of the
brain, neuroretinitis, which blurs vision,
but subsides in most cases with time,
and osteomyelitis. This horrible
complication consists of bacterial bone
infection, which may require amputation
of affected parts. Parinaud
oculoglandular syndrome may result
from Bartonella henselae bacteria entry
into the eyes, requiring surgical removal
of infected eye tissue on occasion.

3. Pet Snail Perils

Snails may be slow, but their popularity
is quickly rising. The slow snail is also a
pet that may land you in a sticky medical
situation not-so-slowly. When choosing a
pet snail, you have your choice of
marine, terrestrial, or freshwater
gastropods, as snails are technically
called. Snails can range from the minute
to the enormous, just like the diverse
array of parasites they can carry. Eating
freshwater snails can cause
schistosomiasis, an exceptionally
dangerous disease also known as snail
fever, caused when humans are
parasitized by flatworms, or flukes in the
genus schistosoma.
Large outbreaks worldwide are
responsible for hundreds of thousands of
deaths, making it the second deadliest
tropical disease after malaria. Infection
occurs when infectious larvae enter
human skin, then cause internal damage.
Many cases have occurred in China
following Yangtze River flooding.

Terrestrial snails like Giant African Land
Snails or Roman Snails may be viewed as
good, easy starter pets for children or
curious hobbyists, but if a child ingests
a small snail — an easy occurrence — rat
lungworm infection may result as the
mollusks are hosts for these grotesque
parasites. Perhaps most terrifying of all,
the rat lungworms can burrow into the
spinal cord and brain, potentially causing
paralysis or death.

2. Amphibian Bites

OK. We get it. The unusual, the strange.
In the search for something truly
different, you opt not for a reptile, but
an amphibian as an exotic pet. What
could be more harmless and cute than a
salamander or frog? Actually, while these
creatures are indeed soft and fragile to
the touch, many of the most popular pet
species grow to a substantial size and are
armed to the teeth, literally. Take the
Pacman Frog , a popular and cartoonish
little terrarium pet easily picked up at a
pet shop near you. Though it can go in a
20-gallon tank, this creature is toothy,
may bite your finger, and when it does,
expect blood. Scientists have discovered
that this mere frog bites down with 30
Newtons, or 6.6 pounds of force when it
clamps its target.

Moving on to salamanders, the
deceptively eel-like Two-Toed Amphiuma
— a huge, aquatic salamander sometimes
mistakenly called a Congo Eel — poses a
threat to the careless aquarist. Actually
of American origin, native to the
Southwestern States, the creature is the
third largest salamander and capable of
inflicting some very painful gashes when
provoked. You would think a snake had
gotten you. The same goes for species
like the beautiful and renowned Tiger
Salamander. The striped amphibian also
packs quite a bite. If bitten, watch out
for infections, and always be aware of
salmonella when near amphibians.

1. Oh Deer

Deer are herbivores. So what could go
wrong if you decided not to have a
friendly but potentially bite-inflicting dog
on your property, opting instead for a
small member of the Cervidae? A lot, it
turns out. Deer won’t eat meat, but are
aggressive for other reasons and may
leave a naïve keeper as a ready meal for
a scavenger. In a tragic Australian
incident that happened in Wangaratta,
close to Melbourne, a 47-year-old man
named Paul McDonald was fatally
roughed up by his pet deer , which he
kept on the property he shared with his
wife, who was also attacked after she
came with her son in response to her
husband’s screams.

Police officers responded and shot the
deer, which was described as a hybrid
deer, the result of the mating of a Red
Deer and a larger deer species, an Elk,
also known as a Wapiti. The main
dangers from a deer attack do not come
from bites, instead being presented by
the mass of the animal and concentrated
force delivered by blows from the hoofs
and sharply-pointed antler racks. The
territorial nature of deer and
unpredictable behavior of these animals
makes them questionable choices as a


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