Local animal lovers share their special bonds with these five unusual pets

By Manning Lee // Photos by Stephen Walker

Edwardo Hernandez and Chango

“I had a lizard growing up, but my parents made me get rid of it. I just wanted another lizard, so I did my research and settled on Chango.

Bearded Dragons are native to the deserts in Australia and live about 10 to 12 years. When they are full-grown, they can reach up to 18 inches from head to toe. He was only three or four inches when I got him. Chango loves mealworms, crickets, and blueberries.

Chango sleeps a lot, but I take him out of the cage and put him on the floor where most of the time he finds quiet places to sleep. I have three dogs, and a cat, which have learned to leave him alone. Sometimes, when Chango feels threatened by them, he puffs his beard out and it turns black. He doesn’t want to be near the other pets. In the warmer months, we take Chango outside. He finds a rock in the sun and just lies there sunning himself.”

John Perkinson and Lola

“Lola is a four-pound Scarlet Macaw from Central and South America. She’s 10 years old, but her breed can live 50 to 60 years. Macaws mate for life, and as pets, they can become quite attached to one person and very protective over that person.

She loves fruits and nuts. She eats oranges, bananas, and grapes, and her beak cuts right through walnuts. Whenever I take her to Scottish Highland Creamery she loves vanilla ice cream. Once I took her to the Waterfowl Festival. One of the vendors makes crab soup. I think Lola must have Eastern Shore blood in her somewhere because she absolutely loved the crab soup!

She’s a little bit of a showgirl in town. People love her. The folks at Capsize love when I take Lola there in the summer. We sit at the bar, but I have to keep an eye on her as she walks around on the bar because she’s been known to steal French fries from people’s plates.”

Trish Beveridge and Oliver Wendell

“We’ve had Oliver for 10 years and he is very sweet, but I will never get another pig. He is a very big responsibility, and I’ve spoiled him. He doesn’t like to go outside in the inclement weather because he doesn’t like his feet to get wet.

You can’t make a pig do what a pig doesn’t want to do.

Oliver has a little spot in the TV room with a really cushy carpet where he sleeps on about 50 micro blankets. Once I made the mistake of laundering them all together. That night he wouldn’t sleep and he walked around the TV room. He cried and cried and wandered and cried and refused to lie down without his blankets.

Oliver trained my husband every night to scratch his back with his back scratcher. And I have to give him his nightly apple. If I don’t have an apple, I go to the store and get one. It’s that serious of a routine.

I’ve thought about sending him to a pig sanctuary, but he’d have to live outside and he doesn’t like being outside. That wouldn’t be fair, because he likes the life that we’ve given him.”

Nick Mielke and Henry the Camel

“Ten years ago, I bought Henry from a guy in New York. Henry was two and had gotten too big for the man. I figured I already had a water buffalo, so I needed a camel too.

Henry loves people and is very gentle with them. We take him to community events like nursing homes and county fairs where he gravitates to the children. One of his events is Easton Church of God’s live Nativity Scene at Christmas.

Henry has a diet mostly of fruit and llama food, but his favorite thing to do is steal my Diet Cokes. He prefers to drink them from the can. He picks up the can, gets as much out as he is able then spits the can out onto the ground.

A few years ago, someone from the Department of Defense called and said, “We heard you had a camel.” It turns out they had a new imaging software product to test out. They paid me to walk Henry up and down our street. The software was miles away in the sky. I never saw them because they were testing how far away they could be and still see Henry. “

Debby Geist-Lyons and the Saltwater Gang

“My tank is a 90-gallon saltwater aquarium. I started with a Damsel since they are inexpensive and docile, but now he’s been with me for nine years. He’s huge and often the bully of the tank. His name is, Big Frank. When I introduce new fish, he throws temper tantrums and kicks up sand in the back of the tank.

I have two clownfish named Ozzie and Harriet. The black and white one is Ozzie and the orange and white one is Harriet. Ozzie pokes my hand if I get too close to Harriet.

Sam is my Goby. His job is to clean the sand. All-day long he picks up sand and spits it out. I reward his hard work with fresh brine shrimp, which he loves. I have a pretty little Pajama Cardinal we call Penelope and an eel with no name.

I use a special light for the tank that simulates the sunrise and sunset and even creates mini thunderstorms for the tank. Sometimes when I’ve had a stressful day, I’ll sit with the lights out in front of the tank and watch fish dance in the thunderstorms.“

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