Snakes in the Shower? See Exotic Pets in Conventional Homes

Photographer Areca Roe set out to show unusual household pets—like tarantulas and iguanas—live in the most familiar of settings.

Photographs By Areca Roe
Published 21 Jun 2018, 17:06 BST, Updated 5 Nov 2020, 06:04 GMT

In her new book Housebroken, Minnesota photographer Areca Roe juxtaposes exotic pets against tranquil, domestic settings.

The tension “between the fur, the claws, the scales and that very domestic background” of quilts and fabrics intrigued Roe—animals that seem wild to many of us, even though they’re not, in settings that couldn’t be more familiar. 

There’s Turdell the snapping turtle walking near a colourful bedspread; Finnian, an Angora rabbit with two My Little Ponies whose coifs all mirror each other; and Dozer, a pot-bellied pig who looks at home on his owner’s bed because it’s his bed, too.

Roe worked with pet owners to get the right shots but the critters had a hand, or a feet, in the art direction as well.

Sometimes they’d “just start walking in this or that direction and I would follow them and see what happens,” often resulting in serendipitous moments like Finnian’s housemate, Blue, a chicken, sitting on a couch that camouflaged her as well any cryptic wild animal. 

Spreading the Love

Before this project Roe had had little contact with exotic pets.

“I had never met an iguana before,” she says. But she found, true to their owners’ assertions, that even the seemingly inscrutable animals had their own personality traits—like the bearded dragon that seemed “curious” about this stranger in its midst.

The owners were proud and extremely knowledgable about their pets, Roe adds. (Read your dog knows how you feel.)

For instance, Freckles the ball python and Josephini Houdini the tarantula—so named “because she had escaped multiple times”—go to schools “to spread the knowledge and love of these creatures.”

Finnian’s owner even collects the fur the rabbit leaves behind and spins it into yarn.

Maybe My Little Ponies will get an Angora horse blanket.

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