Owning strange pets is a craze that's fast catching up in the Maldives. Apart from the usual cats and love birds, it's quite common these days to find cockatoos, iguanas, guinea pigs, monkeys and even tarantulas in Maldivian homes.
Many people who own pets actually think of themselves as animal lovers. But their love often becomes a type of fatal attraction that lands the animals in cruel conditions and sometimes death.
As a typical example, let me cite the case of the four parrots recently smuggled into the Maldives. Customs officers discovered them wrapped in plastic bags with adhesive tape and hidden under the boiler suits of the two smugglers. [See above photo from Jazeera]
Smugglers get away with this sort of cruelty because misguided 'animal lovers' who buy the creatures tacitly condone such actions. Further there is no comprehensive wild life protection law in the Maldives.
Of course, strange pet ownership is not restricted to the Maldives. Two-thirds of Australian households have at least one pet, according to Petnet. Loving pets is not new, but the way we treat them is.
Pets are becoming more humanized with Doggles (dog sunglasses), gourmet foods, portraits, funeral and cremation services. And it's a big money spinner.
Dogs and cats are the most popular pets in America, but some people prefer more unusual creatures for companions. Visit a pet store, and you may see snakes, hermit crabs, tarantulas, hedgehogs and even Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Some people even have alligators in their bath tubs.