Presidential Pets: Ankle-biting badger to 'troublemaker' goat, all the strangest animals that lived in White House

Presidential Pets: Ankle-biting badger to 'troublemaker' goat, all the strangest animals that lived in White House
(Getty Images)

Every President in the history of the United States has been a pet owner, except James K Polk, Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump. We aren't new to presidential pet pooches that have headlined media, but there's more to the relationship of the presidents with their pets than meets the eye. While President Joe Biden's pet canine Major stole the limelight for becoming the first shelter dog to live in the White House, many animals have enjoyed the honor in the past, for several US presidents had the most bizarre taste in owning pets. 

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From a pet badger to silk worms, some of the most unexpected animals have lived in the White House and to date, remembered for being a significant part of the former presidents' lives. Here we have put together a list of strangest US presidential pets you ought to know about! 

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Joe Biden's German shepherd Major becomes first shelter dog in White House, Champ enjoys new bed by fireplace

Thomas Jefferson (Getty Images)/(Wikipedia Commons)

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Thomas Jefferson brought a mockingbird 

The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, dared to bring a bird to the White House as his pet, and even went on to issue a beware warning on its arrival. He reportedly bought the mockingbird, Dick, from a slave before shifting to the White House. And, he is even said to have written a letter to a friend, warning the children to never mess with his pet bird. The letter read, "I sincerely congratulate you on the arrival of the mockingbird. Teach all the children to venerate it as a superior being which will haunt them if any harm is done to itself or its eggs."

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Theodore Roosevelt's pet badger, hyena and black bear

Teddy Roosevelt was one step ahead when it came to bringing pets to the White House while he served as the 26th president of the United States. He and his family had a badger for a pet, who was reportedly nursed with a bottle. According to Bustle, Roosevelt said speaking of his pet badger that the animal's "temper was short but [his] nature was fundamentally friendly. However, Roosevelt decided to send him to Bronx Zoo a while later as his ankle-biting became a persistent problem. Roosevelt is also known for having a hyena and a black bear as his pets and naming them after the 18th-century Calvinist Jonathan Edwards. 

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Calvin Coolidge picked up a pygmy hippo and housed many unconventional pets

Following in the footsteps of Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge was yet another president of the United States to have gained a reputation for keeping unconventional pets in the White House. He reportedly housed bobcat, a donkey named Ebenezer, two raccoons, lion cubs, a wallaby, and a hippo who went by the name Billy. The baby hippo is said to have been "captured" by Harvey Firestone, the founder of Firestone Tires, who after gifted it to Coolidge. 

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Similar to Billy, a raccoon called Rebecca was sent to Coolidge's family to be eaten. But they decided to keep her as a pet as they couldn't imagine causing her any harm. She was often seen cuddled up in the arms of the president or the First Lasy Grace Coolidge. 

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(Getty Images)

Johny Quincy and Herbert Hoover owned alligators 

Call it a brilliant defense tactic or a rather peculiar choice in pets, former US presidents John Quincy and Herbert Hoover had alligators for a pet while they lived in the White House. Apparently, Quincy used to keep his pet alligator in a bathroom in the East Room and used it to scare guests, occasionally. The 31st president of the US Herbert Hoover later followed the same trend by owning an alligator. 

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John Quincy's wife harvested her own silk from pet silkworms

While reports suggest that Quincy and his sons had kept alligators as pets that would roam about "freely" occasionally, his wife Louisa harvested her own silk, for which she kept silk worms. 


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Benjamin Harrison's Wily Goat 

The 23rd president of the US, Benjamin Harrison reportedly bought a gat named Old Whiskers, for his grandchildren to play with. The goat was a troublemaker, who once escaped through the gates of the White House. The president and others had to chase Old Whiskers to bring him home safe. 

James Buchanan, fifteenth President of the United States who served from 1857 to 1861. (Getty Images)

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James Buchanan received a herd of Elephants for present

James Buchanan, the 15th president of the US was reportedly given a herd of elephants by the King of Siam as a present. However, he is said to have given away all of them except one, which he retained in the White House along with a pair of bald eagles. However, it is unknown as to why king gave Buchanan elephants. 

(Getty Images)

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Andrew Johnson befriended mice during his impeachment

The 17th president Andrew Johnson, who assumed office after the assassination of President Lincoln, went on to build a strange relationship with mice. According to Presidential Pet Museum, the former POTUS befriended a couple of mice during his impeachment. 

The website states, "While the impeachment process dragged on, Johnson remained hidden in the White House, entertaining himself with the mice. He would leave water out for the family to drink their fill and watch their antics while he waited for the decision to come down from the Senate. He claimed to have won the mice’s confidence and often called them 'the little fellows'."

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William McKinley, twenty-fifth President of the United States serving from 1897 to 1901. (Getty Images)

William McKinley's pet parrot and roosters

Besides a parrot named Washington Post, former US president William McKinley had a couple of roosters for pets. However, not much is known about the number of roosters he owned. But, they are believed to have indirectly played a part in McKinley's political career. 

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Per reports, there was a cartoon depicting " Senator Orville Platt and President McKinley offering a deplumed rooster to the Cuban people, who respond: 'But friend William, what do you want me to do with that rooster after having been so cruelly mutilated by you and your buddy Platt?' 

President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

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Is Donald Trump a 'dog hater'? 

Now that you know Trump is one of the very few presidents of the US to have not had pets at The White House, it is said that he doesn't like dogs. He gained the reputation after drawing comparisons between dogs and humans on several occasions, but not on a kind note like any other canine lover would do. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died after the raid by American forces in the Syrian bolthole, Trump said that the Islamic leader had "died like a dog". And, during the 2016 debate, he said Republican senator Marco Rubio was "sweating like a dog" and once he said Mitt Romney "choked like a dog" against Barack Obama in 2012. Furthermore, his ex-wife Ivana Trump has noted in her memoir, "Donald was not a dog fan." 

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