5 unusual animals kept as pets by ancient royalties

The bond between humans and animals has existed for millennia.

Pets of ancient royalties [Pinterest]

In ancient times, people shared their homes with fascinating creatures, some cute and cuddly, others downright surprising.

Forget goldfish bowls and cute kittens, these folks had cheetahs lounging in their courtyards and hedgehogs snuffling around their feet.

Here are some of those unusual ancient pets and why people kept these unique animals by their side:


Hedgehogs were popular pets in ancient Rome. These nocturnal insectivores weren't just cute, though.

They were seen as natural pest control, happily munching on beetles and creepy crawlies that might otherwise have plagued Roman homes. Hedgehogs were also believed to bring good luck, making them a popular choice for families.

While the idea might seem strange to us today, some ancient Egyptians kept jewel beetles as pets.


These iridescent insects, with their shimmering blue and green shells, were seen as symbols of rebirth and transformation. Egyptians would decorate their bodies with elaborate jewellery that resembled these beetles, and some even kept them alive in small, ornate cages.

Parrots have always been prized for their intelligence and ability to mimic human speech.


In ancient Greece and Rome, wealthy people kept parrots as status symbols. These colourful birds would learn to greet guests, recite poems, or even gossip!

Parrots were also kept in India and China, where they were seen as messengers between the human world and the spirit realm. Owning a parrot in ancient times wasn't just about having a talking pet; it was a way to show off your wealth and connect with the spiritual world.

Imagine having a cheetah as a pet! While this might sound like a recipe for disaster, cheetahs were actually kept by some wealthy people in ancient Egypt and India.


These speedy cats weren't cuddly companions; they were trained for hunting.

Egyptians believed cheetahs were a gift from the god Ra, and they were used to chase down prey like gazelle and antelope. In India, cheetahs were even used by royalty to hunt alongside them on horseback. While keeping a big cat as a pet seems risky today, for these ancient societies, it was a way to show off power and status.

For people in ancient South America, especially the Aztec civilisation, monkeys and squirrels were popular choices for pets. These small, agile creatures were seen as symbols of playfulness and intelligence. They were often kept by children who would teach them tricks and carry them around on their shoulders.


Monkeys, in particular, were also associated with the gods and were sometimes used in religious ceremonies. Owning a monkey or squirrel in ancient South America wasn't just about having a fun pet; it was a way to connect with the divine and the natural world.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.


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