It’s over a year since I moved to Wageningen but still I cannot get used to the fact that people have rodents, reptiles and insects for pets. I constantly see notes from people looking for someone to look after their rats, snakes, geckos, spiders or hamsters while they travel out of town for holiday.
Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek
The idea that people keep rodents instead of setting traps to kill them perplexed me. They are fed and live in the same room as the owners. Where I come from, rats and hamsters are killed. Here, the pets have names and sometimes even birthday parties, they have friends and play dates so that they are not lonely. I also find it strange that people keep chickens and rabbits for pets. In my country that is playing around with the potential for a delicious stew (no offense). I once saw an advert seeking a home for a rooster. The owner advertised the weight and age of the rooster and the ideal situation and home for it. Don’t get me wrong: I understand there are vegetarians and animal lovers who cannot fathom the idea of eating meat. But in my head, I already had the recipe for a delicious meal.
One day one of my Dutch corridor mates found a rabbit outside the building, and she brought it to our kitchen. I walked in and found our furry friend surrounded by all the Dutch people from my corridor. I was excited and thought: we have free meat today! But my excitement was short-lived once people in green uniforms arrived to rescue the poor rabbit. I later learnt that they were animal protection police. Monica Mbuthia, Master’s student of Development and Rural innovation, from Kenya
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NL: Gratis vlees?
De gékste dieren houden Nederlanders als huisdier, verzucht Monica Mbuthia. Ratten, gekko’s, slangen, hamsters, spinnen. ‘In Kenia doden we ratten en hamsters. Hier hebben ze namen, verjaarsfeestjes en speelafspraakjes.’ En kippen worden vertroeteld in plaats van verwerkt tot stoofpot. Op zekere dag had haar Nederlandse huisgenoot bij de flat een konijn gevonden en mee naar binnen genomen. Andere Nederlandse bewoners stonden er nieuwsgierig omheen. ‘Ha, gratis vlees vandaag!’, dacht Monica. Maar de blijdschap was van korte duur. Tot haar verbijstering kwamen er mensen in groene uniformen om het dier te redden.