It’s safe to say that furry friends have always had a place in the White House with every single U.S President having a White House pet except for 11th President James K. Polk and 45th President Donald Trump. But with news of the new President Elect, Joe Biden, and #DOTUS spreading around the internet, we should all take a chance to look back on some of the most interesting White House Pets.
John Quincy Adams’s Alligator
You read that correctly, alligator. In 1825, French Revolutionary hero, the Marquis de Lafayett, gave President Adams a very peculiar gift, an alligator. While we don’t know what the president’s reaction was, he reportedly enjoyed showing off his new pet to shocked White House guests for months before it moved to a different home.
Andrew Jackson’s Swearing Parrot
While Andrew Jackson had other pets, his pet parrot made quite a statement at his funeral that makes him quite memorable. According to attendees, the parrot got so excited the parrot started swearing so loud that he disturbed guests and eventually had to be carried out of the house. What else could you expect from a president who beat up a would-be-assassin after the man’s gun misfired.
Martin Van Buren’s Tiger Cubs
Early in his Presidency, Van Buren was given a unique gift from Kabul al Said, the Sultan of Oman. That gift was a pair of tiger cubs. Van Buren loved his new pets and immediately began making changes to the White House to accommodate them. Congress was not exactly pleased. Van Buren argued with the congress to try and keep the cubs in the White House, but congress stated that the cubs had begun their journey during President Andrew Jacknson’s presidency and that means the cubs technically belonged to the United States. Despite Van Buren’s wishes the cubs were sent to the local zoo. Just let the man have his tigers.
Andrew Johnson’s Mice
While not having any pets officially, he did befriend a family of mice. During Johnson’s impeachment, he locked himself in the White House and began entertaining himself by filling a bowl with water and watching mice drink their fill. Unfortunately, not everyone liked Johnson’s little friends. Johnson’s daughter, Martha, set up mouse traps, brought in rat poison, and cats to try and eradicate the rodent population in the White House. Johnson continued to quietly feed the mice. It is still unknown whether the mice managed to escape Martha.
James Garfield’s “Veto”
President Garfield definitely had a sense of humor in naming his Newfoundland pup. He picked the name in an attempt to remind the congress that he might not sign every single bill they pass. Unfortunately, Garfield never had the opportunity to veto any legislation as he was shot 5 months into his presidency and died from the resulting infection.
Benjamin Harrison’s Opossums
While having several dogs with him in the White House, President Harrison also had a couple peculiar friends: two opossums, Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection. At the time, the Republican platform claimed that “Reciprocity and Protection are twin measures of the Republican Policy”.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Zoo
President Theodore Roosevelt entered the White house with his wife, six kids, and more pets than the White House had ever seen. He had dogs, snakes, guinea pigs, a badger (yes, he had his own Huffle Puff), a hyacinth macaw, a pig named Maude, five bears, lizards, horses, ponies, multiple dogs, a Pekignese, cats, a rabbit named Peter, two kangaroo rats, a flying squirrel, two parrots, a racoon, a hen, roosters, a wild cat, a coyote, a barn owl, a lion, a zebra, and a hyena. That’s literally a zoo.
Herbert Hoover’s Alligators
Again with the alligators. President Hoover’s son was given a pair of alligators by Clarence Woolley. According to record, the alligators were kept in a bathtub, but often escaped. After several escapades the alligators were donated to the Smithsonian Zoo.
Donald Trump’s Almost Puppy
There have only been two Presidents that have not had any pets in the white house. James K. Polk, and Donald Trump. In late 2016, The Washington Post released an article that Patton, a Goldendoodle might be joining the White House, particularly to help the move for Trump’s son, Barron. Of course, we know from his statement in 2019 that he would never have a dog because he “doesn’t have time”.
Don’t worry, in 2021 Joe Biden will move into the White House with his dogs, Champ and Major, and furry friends will rule the White House once again (with the added bonus of Major being the first ever shelter dog in the White House). For more information about White House pets click here.