For animal lovers, there’s nothing better than having pets at home. They make things lively and are a great source of entertainment and interest for the kids. Just adding a few kitty cats or a pooch to the family can be a great addition for all.
However, there are some people who take the concept of owning pets to a whole new level. Some people even seem to prefer pets to kids, and it seems so with this family. But is their pet tarantula a threat to their two-year-old?
Emma and Luke are your average happily married couple. They live in the Australian city of Canberra, both have full time jobs, and also have two gorgeous kids who they adore and spoil and every opportunity. They are also animal lovers; Particularly when it comes to reptiles who are their absolute favorites.
4-year-old Hunter is one cute kid, but not as cute as his little sister, 2-year-old Amelia. They are also just your average Aussie kids but they know more about animals than most adults would know. And there’s a very good reason for that. In fact, they are lucky enough to be at close quarters with a whole host of animals every single day…
You’ve probably never heard of a home zoo, and frankly nor had we until we came across this interesting family. While some folks are into video games or weekends family hikes, this family is into something completely different. It’s an expensive hobby, but it’s also a very fulfilling and satisfying one that keeps the whole family busy.
Health and Safety
According to Emma and Luke, health and safety are their priority. For them, the home zoo poses no threat to them or their kids, and all their pets are cared for on a daily basis and in line with best practices for keeping animals, even if many of the pets are actually insects and reptiles…
One thing is for sure; Emma and Luke are very passionate people when it comes to their pets, a hobby they take extremely seriously and have spent a lot of money on. Obviously the kids are their priority, but the good news is that they save a packet on toys and games, and the family pets do most of the entertaining at home.
According to Emma, once the family started buying and finding pets, it became like an obsession for them, “We just love them, I guess. It becomes a bit of an addiction once you start. We sort of ended up with a fair few,” Emma said. When it comes to addictions these days, being addicted to looking after animals isn’t such a bad thing…
Like many two-year-olds, Amelia suffers from the occasional temper tantrum, especially when things don’t go her way. But where other mothers may be left at a loss to deal with such tantrums, it’s no issue for this family. Talking about the family’s pet carpet python, Emma said, “She is pretty big, but she has got some growing to do. She is one of Amelia’s favourites, so if she is having a wobbly, I bring her out and she is happy.”
Emma also spoke about the fact that while the kids are comfortable with most of the family’s pets, of which there are an unbelievable number, she still has a bit of a spider phobia, “I think we have got some animals that I deal with a lot better than Em does, like spiders, she still has a spider phobia, I deal with them better than the two little ones here,” said Emma’s husband.
As the Carlson family also decided at some point to buy a pet Tarantula, Emma was sort of forced to face her fears and overcome her spider phobia, “I can’t preach to other people about being used to snakes and getting over their fears if I can’t do it myself,” she said, adding, “I came home one day and there was an explosion of an egg sack and little tiny tarantulas all throughout her enclosure. So that was fun and I made Luke deal with that when he got home.”
Many years ago, when the Carlson’s first got married and before the kids came along, they bought their first pets. Bizarrely, they opted at that time for two frogs and a shingleback, for reasons known only to them. “When two reptile people get together, we were in for a big collection from the start I think,” Emma said.
It’s not that the Carlson’s eat their pets; Perish the thought. But they did talk about how some of their pets often eat better than they do. “We buy the expensive blueberries and sometimes raspberries, nice bananas for a treat and things like that.” Said Emma.
With all those pets at home, needing a variety of different foods constantly, the Carlson’s often find themselves in the grocery store, as well as the pet store, stocking up, “We do have to stop at the pet store and get dog food for the dog and get bones and things for her. We get fish for the turtle, some turtle food. If it’s been raining, we will go for a walk and try to find some snails, we do a big cricket order every week and then obviously for these guys (the snakes), we have to get rats and sometimes rabbits and quail and different things. We get our big delivery of all sorts of rodents and things and big crickets.” They explained…
Showering With Frogs!
For the Carlson’s, showering with their pets in tow is a totally normal thing, “It’s totally normal for us to have a shower with the frogs or whack a snake in the bath with the kids,” Emma explained, “For us, it’s our everyday life, but other people are blown away. If you said you had 50 dogs or 50 cats, people would think you’re mad, but most of our guys are reptiles who are much easier to look after.”
This normal family-of-four have an astounding 58 pets living with them on a permanent basis. Those pets include – 10 snakes, 10 dragon lizards, 7 amphibians, 6 monitor lizards, 6 geckos, 6 skinks, 3 birds, 2 rats, 2 stick insects, 1 dog, 1 turtle, 1 fish, 1 mystery snail, 1 Australian tarantula, and 1 centipede. Yes, that makes 58, just in case you counted…
According to Emma, most people just think the Carlson’s are a normal, average Canberra family. “People think we’re normal because they see a dog at the front door, then they come inside,” explained Emma, “For us, it’s our everyday life, but other people are blown away. If you said you had 50 dogs or 50 cats, people would think you’re mad, but most of our guys are reptiles who are much easier to look after.”
It comes as no surprise that the Carlsons opened a reptile-related business, following their passion for creatures of all types. Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation was born just a few years ago, “It just kind of organically grew through us both being interested in animals, and the kids love them and play a part in caring for them,” Said Emma.
Carrying The Torch
It is very much the Carlson’s hope that their two kids will develop the same love for reptiles that they have. “Hopefully they carry the torch for reptiles after Luke and I are gone. We’ve got a few monitor lizards that will probably outlive us, so they’ll need someone to look after them,” Emma said. However, looking after all those pets doesn’t come cheap. “We’re pretty frugal people and we’re used to having no lights on at night so the animals can sleep,”Even with all the tanks, we’ve still got an average electricity bill for a family of four.” She said.
The Carlsons explained that they are clean living people. While many folks turn to alcohol or gambling to pass their free time, the Carlson’s do none of that, “It’s definitely worth it and we’ve got no other vices in life. We don’t drink, smoke or gamble at the casino. We’re just into our reptiles.” They explained.
It stands to reason that with all those pets around there’s a lot of work to be done. Emma explained that the reptile tanks need to be cleaned every two days, and just that task takes two hours to complete. Then, there’s checking on all the pets which takes another hour a day, and that’s not to mention all the playtime.
For the Carlsons, having all these pets is nothing but pure joy, even if it is hard work. “The kids are great with them. They know which animals they’re allowed to be with and which ones they need to wait for Mum and Dad to be around,” Emma said, adding, “Hunter’s snake, Arlo, is his best mate, but he loves the lizards too. He even puts them under a blanket if he thinks they’re cold.”