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Terrifying Pet Store Rat

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D'awww... I mean, RUN AWAY!
every "scummy sewer rat" used as set dressing in modern tv and film is a healthy, chubby lil boi with a nice shiny coat bc he lives a blessed little rat life full of fruits and nuts and tummy scritches
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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 egregious cases it might even be white or multicolored instead of black or 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 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 keeping it there long enough to have the cameras set up. And the SPCA/Humane Society/local equivalent would be likely to object, too, since there's a much higher chance of the animal or human handlers being injured, which helps no one, so this trope is one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality 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 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 Misplaced Wildlife.

Tarantulas and scorpions used in film and TV tend to be docile species with very weak venom, since a more lethal species would obviously be more dangerous for the actors. This can give arachnologists or spider enthusiasts a Genius Bonus (alternatively, Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying) when they notice that the characters are freaking out about a harmless species.

A variant of this trope instead features common cats and dogs, either as themselves, used as stand-ins for wolves or wild felines, or put in costumes to represent monsters of various sorts. These will be intended to appear menacing, aggressive and dangerous, but the actual animal actors themselves will be tame and socialized animals. This often leads to dramatic scenes featuring supposedly vicious dogs with happily wagging tails, lolling tongues and other signs of excitement for play, or cats seated with a patient, attentive expression, who will let themselves be picked up and handled or simply sniff, bat or investigate their putative victims, without a trace of the snarls and bristling fur of aggressive dogs or the folded ears and distinctive yowls and hisses of angry or scared cats — or, alternatively, the sounds of angry cats or dogs dubbed over animals that are clearly nothing of the sort.

This is a stock feature of horror movies, they often wander in the background for ambiance, act as a Cat Scare, or provide a Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? 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 Reality Is Unrealistic, 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. Attack of the 50-Foot Terrifying Pet Store Lizard. For actual Terrifying Pet Store Rats, see You Dirty Rat!


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  • One 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 Reptiles Are Abhorrent 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ratatouille features an animated version. Remy is supposed to be a common street rat, but his looks (and temperament at that) are of a pet rat. It's almost impossible for a wild-born rat to be Remy's Russian Blue-looking color, as the vast majority of wild brown rats are exactly that - brown.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Graveyard Shift, a movie based on a short story about killer rats by Stephen King, uses several scenes of rats sitting placidly along the rafters staring at the characters in a way reminiscent of The Birds. 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.
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003): At one point, the son needs 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.
  • The Gestapos Last Orgy: 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.
  • Ratman's Notebooks: Done deliberately in 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.
  • Indiana Jones does this extensively:
    • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: 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 fussy, high-maintenance load, not necessarily because the bugs are supposed to be dangerous. Indy isn't fazed by them at all.
    • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lampshades the use of non-venomous (or at least less-venomous) 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."
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark:
      • Some of the snakes are recognizable harmless snakes of types people keep as pets, though there is at least one actual cobra (behind glass). There's also several "snakes" being played by European Glass Lizards (Pseudopus apodus), which aren't even snakes 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.
      • In one scene, Alfred Molina'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. Of course, the spiders aren't meant to be dangerous so much as just kinda gross, since Indy, again, seems largely unfazed by them.
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The petroleum-filled Venice tomb is full of rats; Indy even notes that his father never would have made it past the rats, as "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 unmoving dolls when the bad guys torch the petroleum.
  • Dracula (1931): The English-language production has a scene where Count Dracula introduces his "children of the night", which are implied to be supernatural monsters. The animals on screen sure look suspiciously like opossums and armadillos. Of note is that opossums have lower body temperatures compared to most mammals, and many human transmissible diseases won't survived inside them. Likely a lucky coincidence, though, armadillos are known to be disease vectors for leprosy but aren't exactly intimidating.
  • The Monster Squad: Armadillos are seen wandering around Dracula's tomb in the opening scene in an homage to Dracula, above.
  • Night of the Lepus: The rabbits look like a menagerie straight from a pet store, 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. It's made even more obvious due to the fact that the film earlier shows stock footage of actual feral rabbits, making the non-wild nature of the giant ones a lot more blatant.
  • The Killer Shrews uses 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.
  • Snakes on a Plane has plenty of actual venomous snakes appear on camera, but also a number of harmless milk snakes and a corn snake.
  • The Stuff 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  Even worse, in the shot where the dog goes for his throat, it's clearly just trying to happily lick the actors' face. Made more ridiculous because it's preceded by a shot of a model dog head unhinging it's jaws with the Stuff pouring out of it, while the actual dog looks nothing like it.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 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.
  • Chopping Mall 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.
  • The Mummy Returns: In the beginning, Evy and Rick are in an ancient ruin and encounter some snakes. They're Terrifying Pet Store Snakes; in an overlap with Misplaced Wildlife, 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. During a fight in the O'Connells' house, Meela throws a snake at Rick, claiming it's a very poisonous Egyptian asp. What actually gets thrown isn't a live snake at all due to another trope, but any shots that did use a live snake use a black kingsnake, another harmless snake and common pet.
  • Shutter Island: A whole Terrifying Pet Store Rat swarm confronts Daniels 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.
  • Cujo tried to avert this by having the Big Friendly Dog's tail restrained to stop it wagging, which would have made it rather difficult to take it seriously as a savage, rabid monster. As the symptoms of the disease progress, it's also covered in progressively more blood and pus throughout the movie, and its mouth becomes ringed with foam and spittle, partially obscuring the dog actors and making them look more threatening.
  • The Food of the Gods uses this with its swarm of 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.
  • Nosferatu: Some of the rats are obviously hooded rats, a pet store variety.
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate has the Master's "devil dog", a big Doberman who seems like the friendliest dog in the world. His affection for the Master (played by the dog's real-life master, aptly enough) is palpable.
  • Silver Bullet: A girl is startled into falling over when a rodent emerges from beneath a garage shelf. It's a gerbil.
  • Three Big Men 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.
  • 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.
  • The Craft 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.
  • Ice Cream Man: Whenever we see inside the crazy killer's truck, there are white mice and Madagascar hissing cockroaches wandering placidly around the ice cream and bloody eyes.
  • Deadly Eyes: In order to have rats the size of small dogs in some scenes, they were literally played by small dogs; the filmmakers dressed some dachshunds in specially made rat suits.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • James Bond
    • Notably averted in the sewer scene in From Russia with Love. 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 Live and Let Die has a Hollywood Voodoo 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 If Looks Could Kill, the supposedly deadly scorpion used in an effort to kill the hero is in reality a harmless emperor scorpion.
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes 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.
  • The Evil Dead (1981) briefly features a domestic-variety hooded rat in the cabin in the middle of nowhere.
  • In the 1958 film Devil's Partner, a man is threatened by a rattlesnake (actually a shapechanged villain) that crawls in through a window to menace him. At least, that's what it's supposed to be doing, but even the use of a genuine rattlesnake doesn't salvage the scene when the reptile is visibly making every effort to crawl back out the window its handler just herded it in through.
  • In the low-budget horror flick Night of the Wild, many of the dogs that "go berserk" and attack the townspeople are obviously having the time of their lives fooling around. Especially obvious when a bulldog perches on the chest of a "fallen victim" who is clearly holding its shoulders and play-wrestling with it.
  • Maradonia and the Shadow Empire prominently features snakes as the villains' Animal Motif... but bungles it by making them all species of domestic python.
  • Aside from one rattlesnake, the creepy critters that pour out of the pumpkin mask in Halloween III: Season of the Witch are harmless, the vast majority being the type of crickets sold as live food for pets.
  • In Friday the 13th Part III, the farm rat that distracts Mrs. Hockett from Jason's imminent attack is a cream-and-white hooded rat.
  • Fresh contains a dog fighting scene between two dogs who act more like they're playing than fighting. Prior to the fight, they both act like tame pets, without any tension or aggression.
  • Even dead animals get in on the act in Hunter Prey, in which the Ribcage Ridge of "alien" animal bones consists entirely of whale skeletons. The bounty hunter also has an "alien" skull for a shoulder adornment, which is clearly a (real or replica) sea turtle skull.
  • Jess Franco's 1970 film Count Dracula has a pack of ravenous wolves portrayed by well-groomed and docile German shepherds with their howling painfully dubbed in.
  • In The Hazing, the pledges have to collect a live rat as one of the items in the Scavenger Hunt. They catch a rat in an alley that is suspiciously clean, well-groomed and tame for something that is supposed to be feral. This does not prevent Delia from being terrified of it.
  • Inverted in The Thing (1982)—the first form of the namesake creature is presented as a tame sled dog, but it's actually a wolf/dog hybrid, and an extremely ominous presence at that.
  • The Giant Gila Monster's title character — portrayed not by an actual gila monster, but by a Mexican banded lizard on a miniature set — is oddly cute.
  • In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein uses electric eels as his energy source for bringing the creature back to life. The eels shown in the film are common American or European freshwater eels, which are unrelated to South American electric eels (which aren't true eels), don't look very much like them, and don't produce electric currents.
  • Apart from the foreground shot of a cobra, all of the snakes in Patient X's hospital cell in The Exorcist III are harmless corn snakes, rat snakes, and king snakes, species commonly sold in pet shops.
  • One scene in Tales of Terror has a terrifying vision of a harmless rat, a harmless snake, and a crab that has clearly been cooked.
  • The Beast Must Die features a werewolf played by a very happy, very friendly looking German shepherd.
  • Played for Laughs in Team America: World Police when Kim Jong Il unleashes his deadly black panthers... which are just black house cats which appear large (but still not the least bit intimidating) when compared to the puppets.
  • Played for Laughs in Home Movie: The Princess Bride where the Rodent of Unusual Size is portrayed by Sophie Turner's corgi licking her and eating titbits from the hand of Joe Jonas as they ham up their mortal peril.
  • Played With In-Universe, in a sense, in The Suicide Squad. Ratcatcher's favorite rat, Sebastian, is— like his owner— a little grimy, but friendly, helpful, and well-socialized. But even after being reassured that he's harmless and tame, Robert "Bloodsport" DuBois is still terrified of him, because his abusive father used to lock him in a box of rats.
  • The titular rodents in Rats: Night of Terror appear to be in pretty good health, at least the ones who haven't been pre-killed to swell the ranks. Several of them are multicolored or white, as well.
  • In The Thirsty Dead, the cult keeps a pit of rats for disposing of their involuntary blood donors when they are no longer any use to them. However, the rats are sleek, well-groomed and obviously tame.
  • Nazisploitation film SS Hell Camp has a woman subjected to a torture where rats are placed on her stomach, then a heated bucket placed over them, so they'll burrow into her flesh to escape the heat. One small problem: the "rats" in question are very clearly guinea pigs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Shamelessly invoked on various Animal Planet shows these days such as Fatal Attractions (2010) and Swamp Wars, 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 Corn Snake!
  • An episode of Storage Hunters 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 Reality Is Unrealistic, 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.
  • Life After People, if not using CGI for the rats.
  • In Mythic Quest a rat that's caught in the office is clearly a well fed domestic rat with a white belly. And despite being put in a container with its pups it stays docile even as people are holding up the container to stare at it.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Alfa 177 canine in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enemy Within" is supposed to be cute but also is supposed to be a newly discovered life form, it is basically just a terrier of some sort wearing extra fur, and a fake horn and antennas.
    • On Star Trek: Enterprise two-parter "In A Mirror, Darkly," the Rottweiler dog portraying Mirror Universe Porthos was noted by the producers and animal handlers to be "an even bigger baby than the regular Porthos," a small beagle.
  • On Criminal Minds, 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.
  • 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 Victim of the Week 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 Victim of the Week is found crawling with sewer rats that are not only very healthy and well-groomed, but 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 The Walking Dead, 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 CSI: Miami, 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.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", literal pet store rats were used as one of the ways of portraying Mangus Greel's giant sewer rats, together with a series of large puppets. Tom Baker riffed on how unconvincing the results were in the years since the serial's airing.
    • In "Survival", vicious alien creatures called Kitlings were played by black cats with hair gel in their fur (when they weren't being portrayed by an animatronic). A behind-the-scenes featurette includes cast and crew complaining about how unprofessional their feline co-stars were.
    • In the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", the 10th Doctor delivers a Badass Boast 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.
  • Used to Freak Out the contestants rather than the audience on Total Blackout: 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 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 The Outer Limits (1995), 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.
  • Vikings: In Season 1, King Aelle of Northumbria throws his captain of the guard into a Snake Pit filled with plump, sleek, non-poisonous pythons. The guard screams in terror as the calm, docile serpents slowly slither onto his lap and over his shoulder.
  • Murder, She Wrote: 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 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 Castle, the titular hero and Fair Cop 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. It barely protests when Castle lifts it off of Beckett by the tail.
  • Neil Gaiman wanted the Beast of London in Neverwhere to be a wild boar, but the people who were sent to to the boar farms said they were too friendly, so they ended up using a Highland cow.
  • The iconic pale yellow snake in The Path was played by an albino Burmese python named Ghost. He appears several times throughout the show, and Aaron Paul said far from being menacing, he was very easy to work with. He spent most of his time on set going to the bathroom all over everything, which in this case could mean he was fed recently, or that he was mildly stressed.
  • Parodied in Monty Python's Flying Circus, where the wolf of Little Red Riding Hood is portrayed by a very nervous-looking dachshund in a fur coat.
  • House once uses maggots to treat a patient's burns. This is a real medical procedure used to remove necrotic tissue while leaving healthy intact (although it's now known that they will eat healthy tissue if left alone too long). The doctor wouldn't really just dump the maggots all over the wound — and it doesn't work too well with the mealworms that were actually used on the show.
  • Played for Laughs in a In Living Color! skit. Fur minks were played by domesticated ferrets (and they were called "rodents" instead of "weasels").
  • In the third season episode of ''The Alfred Hitchcock Hour'' "Water's Edge' an abandoned boathouse is filled with sleek, calm, obviously domesticated rats, including a couple of small youngsters — who at one point are obviously being flung out of a hatch in the ceiling rather than jumping down of their own accord.
  • In-Universe example in House of Anubis where Victor stages a mice infestation in Anubis House to get the students out so he can search for the elixir he suspects Sibuna is hiding. It gets lampshaded when Fabian asks a teacher (who is part of the The Conspiracy) why all the mice look like they came from a pet store, which she refuses to answer.
  • In The Traitors, one challenge features the contestants having to complete tasks in a terrifying room filled with things like insects and rats. The rats are clearly harmless pets and even have color patterns that are not typical of wild rats.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This was part of why the infamous Kennel from Hell match from 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 vicious attack dogs in between, but once the match got underway, it became clear that the dogs weren't so much "vicious beasts" as "happy little puppies". The greatest danger posed? That one of the wrestlers would slip and fall in a puddle of dog wee or dog crap. And when they weren't making a mess on the floor, they were mating.
  • Occurred when Jake "The Snake" Roberts was supposed to sic a (real, but de-venomed) cobra on 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 corpsed when the snake was rubbing against his face.
  • During the buildup to his Summerslam match with Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Junkyard Dog introduced his secret weapon to defeat the Snake Man: GIANT MUTATED SEWER RATS! The first time these were mentioned, Bad News was seen holding a black box that was obviously being made to move by somebody off-camera shaking it about. Once the "rats" are actually introduced — or rather, one of them — we learned mutated rats end up looking a lot like plain old opossums — and sounding a lot like pigs. Earlier in the feud, Brown was also seen fleeing in terror from very obvious rubber snakes — including one Mean Gene Okerlund shakes around in the air for ages, which only makes its fakeness that much more noticeable.
    • Actually, wrestler's pets had a way of mutating into something completely different when brought in to fight Jake's snake. Case in point — Ricky Steamboat's Komodo dragon looking very much like an alligator in its one and only appearance.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Played for Laughs in Team America: World Police, 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, Kim Jong-Il feeds Hans Blix to nurse sharks, which sometimes bite people in Real Life but are not very threatening. Also, at the end, Kim Jong-Il's alien form is played by a normal cockroach.

  • This is the truth behind Ferret-Legging, 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.

    Video Games 
  • In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the "tarantula" bug is a giant, aggressive spider that can actually knock out your character and send them back to their house, making it the most dangerous creature in an otherwise relaxed game. Visually, however, it's based on the redknee tarantula, a harmless and docile spider that's commonly kept as a pet.

    Web Comics 
  • Referenced in The Rant to the Monster of the Week strip based on the werewolf episode "Alpha":
    Angry dogs are scary in real life, but in movies and TV shows they always look like good boys and girls who are happy to be in show biz.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation