HomeEntertainmentFrogs and rats and alpacas, oh my!

Frogs and rats and alpacas, oh my!

Pup is up? Certainly there is more to Carmel High School students than academics and athletics. Peel back the onion layers to uncover the wacky companions in students’ homes.

Aside from the faithful lapdog and snobby cat, a plethora of fauna from all corners of the earth can be found among the homes of the student body.

Take sophomore Aaron McCluskey, for example. His dog is no typical canine.

“Rosie can climb trees,” McCluskey says. “She will put her paws up on your lap and grab you, and then she climbs the trees the same way.”

Rosie the tree-climbing dog perches in an oak.

Rosie the tree-climbing dog perches in an oak.

It is not every day that one witnesses a Basenji and Border Collie mix in the boughs of an oak tree above. When a tree is not nearby, Rosie will climb people too. Strike a pose and brace yourself. This pup is up.

Among the smaller mammals is Duderino the rat. Junior Connor Hatch describes this seemingly ordinary rodent’s extraordinary behavior: “Duderino lets me know when he is out of food and water. He throws his food container and water bottle out of his cage.”

Duderino has his owner well trained. When Hatch sees dishes scattered about the floor, he dutifully refills them with a bow to King Duderino and is dismissed with the flick of a naked pink tail.

The rats on Johanna Swanson’s ranch are few and far between thanks to Cornelius the corn snake. This rare albino serpent slithers around, devouring every mouse found by its owners. Sorry, Duderino, but you might not want to come visit your cousins on the Swanson ranch.

Other residents on this Cachagua acreage include horses, cows, ducks, geese, chickens, goats, a turkey, rabbits and pigs. Even a Chinchilla, a South American rodent that can weigh over three pounds, joined the herd for a while. Swanson declined to comment how long the turkey named “Dinner” would remain in the family.

A slimier and more aquatic pet, owned by junior Justin Rauh, resides in a glass aquarium. Ice the frog is no ordinary frog. This amphibian is a veteran of life, having haunted his palace for over seven years. This South African Clawed Frog’s appearance is indeed odd as insinuated by its name.

“Ice has no long tongue. He can’t walk—he only swims. And of course, he has claws on his hind legs.”

This unique species of frog lacks visible ears and a tongue altogether. Ice, along with his species, has the chameleon-like ability to change his appearance to match his background. He can become dark, light or mottled.

Even stranger yet are Ice’s feeding habits.

“The only way I can feed him is by putting food pellets on the end of something damp, like a finger or Nerf dart, and the frog will jump up entirely out of the water and latch onto it, eventually finding the pellet.” Watch your fingers near this feisty frog.

Blackie the Alpaca makes herself at home in the Thelens' kitchen.

Blackie the Alpaca makes herself at home in the Thelens’ kitchen.

Finally, junior Jimmy Thelen is regarded as the king of odd animals. Thelen’s collection includes an alpaca, a goat, a pygmy goat, a potbellied pig, a goose, two tortoises, one rabbit, a dog, a cat and one bird.

“My parents saved my goat from a goat-eating man called Hector at an auction,” Thelen explains of his hoard’s origins. “It kinda took off from there.” Before Thelen knew it, the pack grew to accommodate other misfits and loners. The alpaca named Blackie is one of Thelen’s most unique additions. “Be careful around Blackie. She spits,” he warns.

From pup is up to Blackie the spitting alpackie, Carmel High School students enjoy a menagerie of critters to enhance their lives outside of the grind of school.

-Connor Suess

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