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Adoring the Pests

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Marge: There's a family of possums in here!
Homer: I call the big one Bitey.
The Simpsons, "Marge vs. the Monorail"

Not content with petting domestic animals at home, or even some wild animals in the woods, some go so far as to welcome potentially harmful wild animals into their homes and workplaces.

Sometimes this is simply out of sheer ignorance as to how dangerous and/or unhealthy this is, others may be fully aware of it and just see it as Worth It.

This does not refer to cases where specific creatures that happen to be from species associated with pest status actually have practical roles, or have been sufficiently domesticated by someone who knows what they're doing.

Not to be conflated with Friend to Bugs, though, as one can adore "cute" pests such as non-domesticated rodents, while still hating bugs, or conversely, adore the least pestilential of bugs while not letting the cute pests' cuteness cause one to treat them more like pets than one should. Contrast Reduced to Ratburgers, when a person's urge for contact with vermin derives from them being desperate enough to eat the pests. Can in some cases be an example of Pet Baby Wild Animal.


Truth in Television, of course, but it might be an idea to avoid singling out specific real-life people for this.


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    Comic Books 
  • Gaston Lagaffe keeps an entire family of mice in the workplace's "important documents and contracts" filing cabinet (or rather, he didn't have the heart to remove them once he saw the newly-born litter nesting in the shredded papers). Of course, he's blind to their faults, given that he also keeps a goldfish, a seagull, a cat, turtles and other animals around, to his coworkers' chagrin.

    Films - Animated 
  • Ratatouille has Linguini befriending a rat named Remy and letting him into the kitchen, and later letting Remy's rat friends in as well. (This results in the closure of the restaurant once the health inspector finds out that Linguini had been letting rats touch the food.)
  • How to Train Your Dragon presents a more optimistic portrayal of this. Despite dragons having a reputation locally for being pests, Hiccup chooses to free the dragon he captures instead of killing it, secretly sneaks away to visit and feed it in the woods, and eventually becomes emotionally attached to it. It is through this that he discovers that dragons aren't as innately violent as they're made out to be, a realization that, combined with his observation of their behaviour, leads to both himself and his local community coming to understand them better.

    Films - Live Action 
  • Enchanted is all over this trope—Giselle calls the "forest creatures" of New York (cockroaches, pigeons and rats) to help her clean up Robert's apartment. Hilarity Ensues when he walks in with the creatures still in the place.
  • In Elf, Buddy tries to befriend a vicious raccoon, who attacks him for his troubles.
  • The Green Mile: See Green Mile entry under Literature.

  • The Green Mile features Mr. Jingles / Steamboat Willy, a mouse found running around the death row cells. They decide not to kill him, aside from the Jerk Ass Percy, because of his unusual behavior: fearless in the face of humans, accepts food only from the regular guards, and his searching of the cells as if he's awaiting for somebody. Mr. Jingles adopts Eduard Delacroix when he arrives and entertains all with his spool fetching trick, even performing a show for the guards on another block.
  • In Harry Potter, The Weasley family adopts a rat named Scabbers, who they thought was a wild rat at the time. (Turns out it was really a shape-shifted form of Peter Pettigrew.)
  • Goosebumps:
    • In "Monster Blood IV", Andy thinks the blue Monster Blood creature is cute and pets it. The creature ends up multiplying when it drinks water and soon the town is overrun with blue Monster Blood creature.
    • Subverted in "The Werewolf of Fever Swamp." Grady adopts a stray dog and names it Wolf. After some strange howls and disasters in the swamp, he wonders if Wolf is a werewolf. He isn't.
  • Ratman's Notebooks has this trope as its central premise. Its unnamed Villain Protagonist is instructed to kill a family of rats which have colonized his mother's abandoned garden, but spares them when he sees how determined the female is to save her babies. He adopts the colony in secret and trains them to help him rob houses.

    Live Action TV 
  • On NewsRadio, the gang befriends a rat that is roaming the station. Dave doesn't know about this and sets traps for it, which the others set off to keep the rat safe.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Amy turns herself into a rat to escape burning at the stake, a few seasons are spent by (mainly) Willow looking after her and trying to find a cure.
  • House once kept a rat he'd found in a patient's house (it gave him the Eureka Moment necessary to the case), calling it Steve McQueen.
    • Though he did on more than one occasion use him to test his theory and suggest that after it developed symptoms he might die from a "cane shaped object".
  • Soap: When Chester is being held captive in his own basement by a fellow prison escapee, he befriends a rat and calls it Harold. He "teaches" it to scurry away when the lights go on.
  • In the "Best Friends Forever" episode of The Haunting Hour, Jack adopts a zombie as a pet.
  • In Friends, Phoebe had an entire family of rats in her house as mascots.
  • In an episode of Naturally, Sadie, Rain ends up with a family of bats roosting in his locker. Although he initially wants to get rid of them, he decides to let them stay as a way of impressing girls.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Nurgle, the Chaos God of decay and pestilence, is also a god of acceptance and friendship. He loves all living things, including every little bacterium, and promotes his servants to house them and have a jolly old time spreading them around.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, one of the first Fighter's Guild quests sends you to help out a woman who has a 'rat problem' in her basement. Turns out she actually likes having the rats down there; the problem is the mountain lions that keep killing them.
  • Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress might have rats, cockroaches, or flies as their favourite animal.
  • One sidequest in Space Colony has your complex become infested with mouse-like aliens. Tami decides to keep them as pets.
  • Deacon from Fallout 4 seems to really like mole rats. When fighting them alongside the player, he'll offer quotes like "Do we have to kill these little guys?" or "Run away and burrow deep, little buddies."

    Web Animation 
  • Dumb Ways to Die includes the line "keep a rattlesnake as a pet" as an example.
  • Unforgotten Realms has one of Schmoopy's first actions after setting off on his journey being to adopt an undead dire rat as a pet and name him Petey.
    Rob/Schmoopy: "Doesn't look friendly," my ass! Can we keep it?!
    Mike/Nailo: Wait, wait a second. So you kill the poor innocent old beggar, but the rat who wants to eat your face off you want as a pet?
    Rob/Schmoopy: But look! He's so friendly!
    Mike/Nailo: Don't Touch It, You Idiot! It's poisonous!
  • Kinda the entire premis̲e of Downs̲cale, particularly with a s̲nake called As̲pen.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Linda likes to make up dramatic stories about the raccoons she sees in the back alley behind the restaurant, like Little King Trashmouth from "Two for Tina" and "Slumber Party", and Big Baby Pudding Snatcher from "Eggs for Days".
  • Lazlo from Camp Lazlo gets a leech/sea lamprey attached to his head. Despite draining him dry, Lazlo insists that it's friendly.
  • In the Transformers Prime episode "Scrapheap", Raf finds a small, adorable robotic creature the size of a kitten, called a scraplet, and assumes it is the Autobots' pet. It turns out scraplets eat metal, especially living metal, like, say, the Autobots. Raf quickly changes his mind about the scraplet at that point.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Swarm Of The Century," Fluttershy finds a cute Parasprite, feeds it, and brings it home. On the way, it multiplies. The Parasprites keep multiplying until they eat most of Ponyville. At one point, they think they've gotten rid of them... until they open the door to Fluttershy's house and another swarm flies out, at which point she sheepishly admits that she couldn't help herself and had to keep just one.
    • In one of the comics, Princess Luna finds a possum out in the woods and takes it home.
    • Played with in the episode "Bats". Fluttershy takes pity on the fruit bats, evidently not considering them as disgusting as her friends do, although she isn't shown going so far as taking them into her home like she did in "Swarm Of The Century". Although the vampire fruit bats at first appear to have pest-like role, and Fluttershy appears to only be defending them out of pity, they turn out toward the end to have their own valuable role in spreading seeds around.
  • The Simpsons has Homer not seeing anything wrong with possums infesting the monorail he's conducting and crawling around where the fire extinguisher should be.

    Real Life 
  • Pet rats have been domesticated since the 19th century (Queen Victoria owned one) and are best purchased from professional breeders or rescues that specialize in rats. However, breeders with a faltering family line will often catch disease-free "wildies" and breed them into the line to reinvigorate it, keeping the wildie as a pet afterwards. Rats are unusually easy to tame, but it's still only recommended for experts — especially since the guarded friendliness and curiosity of a promising wildie is hard to distinguish from the friendly stupor of a rabid animal.
  • Pet Cockroaches have been somewhat popular for years, for the obvious reason that their being hard to kill makes them easy to take care of. Often though these tend to be imported roaches of exotic species rather than roaches scooped right of the floor.
  • Similarly, ant farms - their status as a pest is why no set is ever sold with a Queen ant that could cause a population problem later on.
  • Many of popular pets fit this trope: hamsters, mice, rats, guinea-pigs, gerbils, rabbits all were (or still are) considered pests in their natural environments.
  • An episode of Reality TV show Hoarders featured a man who had given over his house to a horde of pet rats. He started with three. They escaped into the walls and began breeding in inaccessible corners, and he didn't have the heart to recapture the adults if it meant leaving the babies to starve. A year later, he cleanup crew left with 2,500 to rehome.


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