[[quoteright:315:[[Film/NightOfTheLepus http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pet_store_bunnies.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:315:[[NightmareRetardant D'awww]]... I mean, [[KillerRabbit RUN AWAY]]!]]

The protagonist opens the cupboard in a haunted house and, terror of terrors, there's a rat inside. Everyone involved screams at the sight of the filthy diseased vermin. Except it looks like it's been recently bathed and brushed. And instead of fleeing or acting aggressive, it's looking expectantly at the actors for a treat. In really JustForFun/{{egregious}} cases it might even be white or multicolored instead of brown like a wild rat.

This is a Terrifying Pet Store Rat. While the animal in question is often a rat, it also applies to spiders, snakes, and anything else the audience is expected to react with fear or revulsion toward, despite the animal reacting like a pet. Spiders will saunter calmly over people instead of racing along in a panic. Snakes will crawl onto people's shoulders, staring them in the face comically instead of hissing and coiling defensively. ''Non''-menacing animals can be an inversion of sorts, when an animal which should, ''itself'', be terrified by events unfolding in-story instead acts calm, content, and eager for the treat its handler is dangling just out of frame.

This is generally caused by the fact that wild animals are [[NeverWorkWithChildrenOrAnimals really hard to work with]]. A wild rat might panic and flee realistically, but getting it to sit still long enough for the actors to show up is a challenge, as is anything involved in moving it. And the SPCA/Humane Society/local equivalent would be likely to object, too, since there's a much higher chance of the [[NoAnimalsWereHarmed animal or human handlers being injured]], which helps no one, so this trope is an AcceptableBreakFromReality when it's done for safety's sake. So as far as most directors are concerned, a tame ball python that barely moves is usually a better choice than a deadly jungle snake, especially since [[BellisariosMaxim no one will notice the difference anyway.]] Strangely, this often isn't averted with CGI, as fast, complex movements are expensive to animate. Very often crosses over with MisplacedWildlife.

This is a stock feature of horror movies, they often wander in the background for ambiance, act as a CatScare, or provide a WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes moment when a protagonist has to get past them. In severe cases, the central threat of a horror movie may fall into this trope. The main thing making this trope is that the animal is neither threatening nor believably wild.

Related to RealityIsUnrealistic, in that viewers accustomed to seeing only Terrifying Pet Store Animals on film are often shocked by how tick-ridden, mangy and scarred actual wild animals tend to be.

See also {{Slurpasaur}}, a.k.a. [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever Attack of the Fifty-Foot]] Terrifying Pet Store Rat.



* One [[http://www.webbertraining.com/photos/custom/IC%20Cal%202013_Page4.jpg PSA for sanitation]] had a caption saying "When did you last clean your phone?" and featured a leopard gecko sitting on an old-style flip phone. While clearly intended to invoke the ReptilesAreAbhorrent trope, leopard geckos are incredibly docile and make great pets, which was probably ''why'' it was picked for the advertisement. For bonus points, the leopard gecko in question is a morph (color) almost never seen in the wild, making its pet-ness even more obvious.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/GraveyardShift'', a movie based on a short story about killer rats by Creator/StephenKing, uses several scenes of rats sitting placidly along the rafters staring at the characters in a way reminiscent of ''Film/TheBirds''. Fortunately the movie shifts the actual monster to a giant (animatronics) bat, sparing us from a forced-perspective Terrifying Pet Store Rat as final boss.
* Disney's ''Film/TheHauntedMansion'' movie at one point has the son need to get past spiders to get into the mausoleum. The spiders are harmless tarantulas (orange-kneed) and they're tame enough that he can move them with his hands. However, he ''is'' arachnophobic, so no matter what spider they used, he would still be frightened by it.
* Hilariously done in the exploitation film ''The Gestapo's Last Orgy'', where a woman is threatened by being hung over a pit of flesh eating rats... played by gerbils.
-->'''Nazi:''' If I didn't take my hand out, they'd strip it down to the bones in a minute.\\
'''WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob:''' Yeah, sure. If your hands were made of windblown seeds and grain.
* Played effectively in ''[[Literature/RatmansNotebooks Willard]]'', since the rats are ''supposed'' to be tame, well-groomed, and friendly because Willard takes care of them. It's just that they'll kill if they're told to.
* The ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' franchise does this extensively.
** Especially in ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom''. Indy and Short Round nearly die while Willie refuses to reach into a crevasse filled with harmless stick insects and millipedes to shut off the death trap they're in. Though Willie freaks out because she's a [[DamselScrappy fussy, high-maintenance]] [[TheLoad load]], not necessarily because the bugs are supposed to be dangerous. Indy isn't fazed by them at all.
** ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheKingdomOfTheCrystalSkull'' lampshades the use of non-poisonous (or at least less-poisonous) scorpions in movies. Mutt gets attacked by a large but harmless emperor scorpion, and Indy says, "The bigger, the better... If a small one bites you, don't keep it a secret."
** Some of the snakes in ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'' are recognizable harmless snakes of types people keep as pets, though there is at least one actual cobra ([[FreezeFrameBonus behind glass]]). There's also one "snake" being played by a Glass Lizard, which while legless isn't a true snake at all. And of course, some of them are clearly just sections of rubber hose. The snake in Jock's plane right at the beginning might count as a subversion as it really ''is'' a pet... not that this reassures Indy in the least.
** Another example from ''Raiders'' happens when Creator/AlfredMolina's character is covered with tarantulas. This particular variety is the Mexican Redknee, which make popular pets because they are extremely docile and have venom that is harmless to humans.
** The petroleum-filled Venice tomb in ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade'' is full of rats; Indy even notes that [[Creator/SeanConnery his father]] never would have made it past the rats, as [[WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes "he's scared to death of them"]]. All the rats are pet store rats; Harrison Ford is seen in behind-the-scenes footage playing with some of them. They are replaced with [[SpecialEffectFailure unmoving]] dolls when the bad guys torch the petroleum.
* The English-speaking production of 1931's ''Film/{{Dracula|1931}}'' tried to use opossums and armadillos as giant rats.
* ''Film/NightOfTheLepus''. The infamous '''Giant Killer Bunny Rabbits''' movie. The rabbits look like a menagerie straight from a pet store, picture above, which are mostly shown running through miniature sets in slow motion or in extreme close-up, smeared with red paint and backed by dubbed growling.
* ''Film/TheKillerShrews'' uses [[{{Slurpasaur}} dogs in bad costumes]] to play the shrews. As you might guess from the quality of the effects, the dogs were not trained well enough to ''act'' scary either.
* ''Film/TheStuff'' uses a great dane which is apparently threatening its owner if it doesn't get more of the title substance. It wags its tail throughout the scene while dubbed in growling plays.[[note]]Granted, dogs do wag their tails when angry, or when upset. The higher a dog holds their tail, the more threatened you should feel. Mid-height is relaxed, and lowering it is fear, or potentially submission. These should all be considered in relation to the breed, such as Huskies having a curly tail, and Whippets a very droopy one. Slow wagging indicates insecurity.[[/note]]
* ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan'' uses this with lizards, who lead Peter into the sewers after Conners and participate in a fake out scare where they make Peter think The Lizard is coming.
* ''Film/ChoppingMall'' has snakes and spiders get loose in an actual pet store. They aren't played as dangerous, but they make it challenging for the heroine to stay silent while being stalked by killer robots.
* In the beginning of ''Film/TheMummyReturns'', Evy and Rick are in an ancient ruin and encounter some snakes. They're Terrifying Pet Store Snakes; in an overlap with MisplacedWildlife, some are tricolor milk snakes, which are known for having warning coloration similar to that of venomous snakes but are ''not'' known for living in Egypt. The venomous snakes they mimic aren't exactly from Egypt either.
* A whole Terrifying Pet Store Rat ''swarm'' confronts Daniels in ''Film/ShutterIsland'' when he begins climbing the cliff face to the cave. Not only are they obviously well-groomed and curious about his presence, but the first one to appear is clearly ''dropped'' into view of the camera rather than climbing or jumping down to the rock.
* ''Film/{{Cujo}}'' tried to avert this by having the BigFriendlyDog's tail restrained to stop it wagging, which would have made it rather difficult to take it seriously as a savage, rabid monster.
* ''Film/TheFoodOfTheGods'' uses this with its swarm of [[RodentsOfUnusualSize giant rats]]. They tend to stare around in a perfectly tame way looking for a treat. The rats' leader is even a white rat. It doesn't help that since they're just superimposed on miniature sets, they have no reaction to the human actors whatsoever.
* In possibly the UrExample, some of the rats in the 1922 silent film ''Film/{{Nosferatu}}'' were obviously ''hooded'' rats, a pet store variety.
* ''Film/ManosTheHandsOfFate'' has the Master's "devil dog," which on-set was the friendliest dog in the world.
* In ''Film/SilverBullet'', a girl is startled into falling over when a rodent emerges from beneath a garage shelf. Said Terrifying Pet Store Rodent is a ''gerbil''.
* ''Film/ThreeBigMen'' (also known as ''Turkish Spider-Man'') contains what might well be one of the most ridiculous cases ever: man-eating ''guinea pigs''.
* ''Strays'' is about killer housecats. Aside from the cats' "leader", who actually hisses for the camera, the cats just sort of run around the house or sit on their marks. In a few cases they're obviously batting at string just out of view of the camera.
* In TheFilmOfTheBook of ''Film/{{Holes}}'', the deadly "yellow-spotted lizards" are played by bearded dragons, which are harmless and popular as pets. At moments when the lizards have to act particularly menacing, the film averts this trope using CGI; however, in most of their appearances they are clearly Terrifying Pet Store Lizards. Likely a NecessaryWeasel in that of the three species that inspired the yellow spotted lizard, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gila_monster gila monster]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaded_lizard Beaded Lizard]], and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_toad Horned Toad]], the first two are in fact quite irritable and dangerously venomous, and the horned toad is endangered -- putting all three of the "realistic" options solidly out of play. The bearded dragon, however, is neither, and rather closely resembles the descriptions in the book when given a dye job.
* ''Film/TheCraft'' is the king of this trope near the climax when the other witches torment the main character. Her house absolutely fills with piles of harmless snakes, small lizards, scorpions, spiders, and cockroaches that just sort of ignore her as she flees from them. The rats are at least dropped on her from offscreen.
* Whenever we see inside the crazy killer's truck in ''Film/IceCreamMan'', there are white mice and Madagascar hissing cockroaches wandering placidly around the ice cream and bloody eyes.
* For ''Film/DeadlyEyes'' to have rats the size of small dogs on some scenes, they were literally played by small dogs; the filmmakers dressed some dachshunds with specially made ratsuits.
* ''Film/{{Barbarella}}'' at one point has the lead character thrown in an execution chamber to be torn apart by parakeets and lovebirds. While they do fly around in a panic, they're pretty clearly not attacking her at any point.
* In ''Film/{{Adventures in Babysitting}}'' Brenda ,having lost her glasses, accidentally picks up an adorable white "huge sewer rat" thinking it's a cat, and freaks out once it's pointed out.
* PlayedForLaughs in ''Film/TeamAmericaWorldPolice'', which uses puppets that are about a third human-sized. When the villains sic their deadly "panthers" on the heroes, they're played by house cats with some snarling sounds dubbed in. Likewise, [[BigBad Kim Jong-Il]] feeds Hans Blix to nurse sharks, which sometimes bite people in RealLife but are not very threatening. Also, at the end, [[spoiler:Kim Jong-Il's alien form is played by a normal cockroach]].
* ''Film/JamesBond''
** Notably averted in the sewer scene in ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove''. The tame white rats they intended to use became lethargic under the hot lights (and kept licking off their cocoa-powder "makeup"), so the producers hired someone to catch a sufficient number of real sewer rats. The ones seen in the film are noticeably scruffy.
** The beginning of ''Film/LiveAndLetDie'' has a HollywoodVoodoo ritual execution where the victim is bitten by a venomous snake. Except the snake in question is actually a non-venomous emerald tree boa.
* In ''Film/IfLooksCouldKill'', the supposedly deadly scorpion used in an effort to kill the hero is in reality a harmless emperor scorpion.
* ''Film/TheAbominableDrPhibes'' has its first onscreen victim "torn apart" by bats - portrayed by flying foxes, which are a) fruit bats and b) look like adorable flying puppies. They seem more interested in snuggling up to their human co-star for warmth than doing anything aggressive. Later in the movie, actual Terrifying Pet Store Rats make an appearance, and a woman is killed by locusts (aka ''grasshoppers'') after being covered by a concoction brewed from Brussels sprouts.
* ''Film/TheEvilDead1981'' briefly features a domestic-variety hooded rat in the cabin in the middle of nowhere.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Shamelessly'' invoked on various Creator/AnimalPlanet shows these days such as ''Series/FatalAttractions'' and ''Series/SwampWars'', the latter of which goes on endlessly about the evil scaly monsters infesting the Everglades while treating us to ostensibly terrifying stock footage of a [[RidiculouslyCuteCritter Corn Snake!]]
* An episode of ''Series/StorageHunters'' featured a storage container filled with old furniture. It was so old, it was apparently infested by rats. Strangely, and somehow, many of these turned out to be skewbald (white with brown patches) pet rats.
* There's a History Channel documentary on the Black Death that uses hooded (white with grey or brown heads) rats in its scenes of flea-infested rodents carrying the Plague into port. Granted, they look a bit grubby, but their coat-pattern mutation is still conspicuous and unlikely to survive in the wild. The rats who contributed to the Black Death were black rats (''Rattus rattus'') not brown rats (''Rattus norvegicus'', the rat you're more likely to encounter on the streets or in a pet shop). Arguably a case of a RealityIsUnrealistic, however, as while the Plague was brought in by black rats, rat fleas freely exchange between the two, and the brown rat was more common in Europe even at that time.
* ''Series/LifeAfterPeople'', if not using ConspicuousCGI for the rats.
* On ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' two-parter "In A Mirror, Darkly," the Rottweiler dog portraying Porthos was noted by the producers and animal handlers to be "an even bigger baby than the regular Porthos," a small beagle.
* On ''Series/CriminalMinds'', some well-groomed rats gather to investigate a bound captive whom the Killer of the Week had left to be devoured alive. They crawl on the bound man's lap and occasionally touch his bare skin with their forepaws, but remain obviously calm and friendly, even when rescuers break in and start shoving them away with an unrealistic delicacy.
* ''Series/{{Bones}}'' uses this from time to time when a corpse is found infested with animals eating it.
** Frequently when they find a decaying body in the sewer covered in rats, none of which show the slightest surprise or interest in the living humans walking about.
** In one episode they find the victim surrounded by opossums. Again, no opossum shows any hint of non-familiarity with humans.
** In another episode the dead VictimOfTheWeek is surrounded by "feral" stray cats, which sit about and let themselves be picked up by animal control. This does allow for a gag: the cats sit and stare at the team while licking their lips, distinctly unnerving Booth.
** In the sixth-season Episode "The Killer in the Crosshairs", the VictimOfTheWeek is found crawling with sewer rats that are not only very healthy and well-groomed, put patiently hold still to be picked up and then voluntarily enter transport containers.
** This extreme instance of the trope may have been the reason why the next time the show featured a body swarmed by rats (the seventh-season episode "The Hot Dog in the Competition"), they averted the trope with domesticated feeder rats for the victim's pet snake.
* In season 4 of ''Series/TheWalkingDead'', a shadow-hidden figure feeds a live rat to a walker through the prison fence. The rat remains calm, even curious, as it's held up to the chain-link, showing no fear of the walkers ''or'' the human holding it, even when it's being carried by its tail (which ''hurts'').
* On ''Series/CSIMiami'', a man falls from a balcony into a tank full of jellyfish. Wolf identifies the jellies as ''box'' jellyfish and potentially lethal, but they're obviously moon jellies - one of the least-dangerous types - in all the shots where they're not CGI.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' 50th anniversary [[Recap/DoctorWho50thASTheDayOfTheDoctor "The Day of the Doctor"]], the 10th Doctor delivers a BadassBoast to what he thinks is a shapeshifted Zygon... but is in fact an ordinary rabbit. He's probably fooled by the fact the supposedly wild rabbit calmly lets him get close enough to touch without fleeing. Or perhaps because it's played by a lop-eared domestic rabbit.
** Earlier, in the final story of the classic series, vicious alien creatures called Kitlings were played by black cats with hair gel in their fur. A behind-the-scenes featurette includes cast and crew complaining about how unprofessional their feline co-stars were.
* Used to FreakOut ''the contestants'' rather than the audience on ''Series/TotalBlackout'': whenever they're required to identify an animal by touch in the dark, it's likely to be this trope. Or possibly a rubber model.
* Fairly common on ''Series/{{Zoo}}'' when real lions or wolves are shown "ferociously menacing" humans with body language that indicates they're having a fine old time playing with their handlers.
* A conspicuously Unterrified Pet Store Mouse appeared in ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'', being fed to the scorpion-like alien creatures a scientist is raising in secret. The fact that the mouse we see the scientist pick up is ''very'' obviously pregnant, but the one shown happily waiting to be devoured alive isn't, doesn't help.
* ''Series/{{Vikings}}'': In Season 1, [[AdiposeRex King Aelle of Northumbria]] throws his captain of the guard into a SnakePit filled with plump, sleek, non-poisonous pythons. Said guard screams in terror as the calm, docile serpents slowly slither onto his lap and over his shoulder.
* ''Series/MurderSheWrote'': In "Tinker, Tailor, Liar, Thief", a seedy alley is portrayed by the presence of a couple of sleek and well-groomed pet store rats. At least they are brown and not white.
* "Monkey See, Monkey Poo", an episode of ''Series/{{Scorpion}}'' set in the Amazon rain forest, features a swarm of "deadly wandering spiders" played by (harmless) red-kneed tarantulas. A '''vegetative''' variant is also used, when the team divvy up a foul-tasting and exotic "vonvon fruit" that's clearly a dragonfruit from the supermarket.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Castle}}'', the titular hero and FairCop Beckett are moving through a hidden alcove in the ceiling when Beckett tells Castle that even if he's scared, she doesn't think he should be rubbing her neck. It wasn't him, but a rat, calmly sitting there. Said rat barely protests when Castle lifts it off of Beckett by the tail.
* Creator/NeilGaiman wanted The Beast Of London from ''Literature/{{Neverwhere}}'' to be a wild boar but the people who were sent to to the boar farms said they were too friendly and they ended up using a Highland cow.
* The iconic pale yellow snake in ''Series/ThePath'' was played by an albino Burmese python named Ghost. He appears several times throughout the show, and Creator/AaronPaul said far from being menacing, he was very easy to work with, in fact so relaxed that he spent most of his time on set going to the bathroom all over everything.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* This was part of why the infamous Kennel from Hell match from ''Wrestling/{{WWE}} Unforgiven 1999'' lived up to its name for all the wrong reasons. It was advertised as a match where the ring would be surrounded by two cages with [[AngryGuardDog vicious attack dogs]] in between, but once the match got underway, it became clear that the dogs weren't so much "vicious beasts" as "[[BigFriendlyDog happy little puppies]]". The greatest danger posed? That one of the wrestlers would slip and fall in a puddle of [[UrineTrouble dog wee]] or dog crap. And when they weren't making a mess on the floor, they were mating.
* Occurred when [[Wrestling/JakeRoberts Jake "The Snake" Roberts]] was supposed to sic a (real, but de-venomed) cobra on {{Wrestling/Sting}} as a match finisher, only to have the snake turn on him, but the cobra turned out to be ''too'' tame and wouldn't actually bite him, so he just held it to his face while it flailed pathetically.
** Happened again on RAW when the snake he brought out to torment a KO'd Dean Ambrose wasn't too keen on tormenting him. And Dean [[{{Corpsing}} corpsed]] when the snake was rubbing against his face.

* This is the truth behind the (largely tongue-in-cheek) sport of putting ferrets down your trousers as an endurance test. It is far less dangerous than hucksters claim, and far less cruel than ill-informed animal welfare campaigners sometimes believe - pet ferrets naturally enjoy both confined spaces and close contact with their humans, and in fact often otherwise have to be prevented from wriggling their way into people's clothing.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'':
** PlayedForLaughs when the town is overrun by giant guinea pigs and other "guinea" animals such as rabbits and dogs. The animals in question are simple shots of pet animals shuffling about benignly in cute outfits, which have been digitally inserted into the animation.
** Also spoofed with the Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka, which isn't even a real frog, just a stuffed toy on a string.
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'': In "Low Budget", Frugal Lucre menaces Kim and Ron with his budget version of a SharkPool -- a kiddie wading pool full of pet snapping turtles that quickly retreat into their shells when confronted.
* In ''WesternAnimation/DudeThatsMyGhost'', aspiring horror movie director Spencer tries to shoot a movie about a killer sea monster... played by his pet goldfish.