Owning exotic pets is dangerous, and in many cases lethal. In the absolute best case the exotic animal would be living a life in the wrong habitat. Worst case scenarios feature stories of exotic pets killing their owner and then eating their body. If the animal isn't responsible for the death, that doesn't mean they won't then start going to town on their owner's dead body.
When looking at why an animal would eat their owner, there are several factors at play, the most prominent of which may be poor feeding habits. This can lead to the animal becoming malnourished and looking for food anywhere, including in one story, a 2-year-old boy.
Even with a properly fed animal, improper feeding tactics can be exceptionally dangerous. In some of our domestic cases, family pets like dogs and cats have been found eating their deceased masters. These stories are a bit gory and generally the family pets are underfed due to their owners passing away.
No matter how the story goes, it is always cringe-worthy when we hear about a pet eating their owner, even if like in another one of our stories, the Shiba Inu is trying to help their owner by eating his toes. These stories won’t only make us look at our pets differently, but also highlights a newfound respect for the danger that these animals can possess.
15 Pet Camel Humps Woman to Death
This story isn’t quite about a woman getting eaten but it is just weird enough to make it on the list. Pam Weaver was an exotic pet lover and was given the camel to be her companion. The young camel was a gift from her husband for her 60th birthday. Camels were introduced as pack animals to Australia in the 1800s and have since become prominent on the continent.
In the first 10 months, the animal had established a history of erratic behavior and often tried to straddle animals of other species like the family’s pet goat. While cooking in the kitchen on their sheep and cattle ranch just west of Brisbane the camel approached Weaver in a sexual way. The camel then knocked her to the ground before straddling and humping her to death. Her husband discovered her body that evening when he arrived home. A camel expert assessed that young camels are not naturally aggressive but when kept as pets they can be considered somewhat dangerous.
14 Several Venomous Pet Snakes
In 2004 a quiet animal lover was bitten by one of her severely venomous pet snakes believed to be urutu pit viper. Her modest home was actually shared with up to nine poisonous snakes, a dozen other less dangerous snakes, lizards, and alligators. After the viper bit her she drove herself to the hospital but was eventually transferred to a larger hospital. She remained in critical condition in the hospital until she eventually passed on. Officials from her final resting place called the police to inform them that more venomous snakes might be inside of her home.
They brought on three herpetologists from the local zoo and broke down the door with an ambulance on guard in case anyone got bitten. While in the house an upstairs bedroom contained countless reptiles freely roaming such as two monitor lizards, two alligators, one rhinoceros iguana, two Solomon Islands tree skinks and one tegu lizard. While in the home doctors noticed that all of the venomous snakes were in secure plastic cages but they also found non-venomous snakes under each clothing pile and newspaper that they overturned.
13 Hepatitis C + 50 Stray Dogs
An Arkansas woman in 2015 owned up to 50 dogs before she passed away from complications due to Hepatitis-C. For those unaware, Hepatitis-C is a blood-borne virus that infects the cells of the liver and can be spread through blood contamination. Once authorities learned about her disease they began to speak to her frequently about reducing the size of her pack. When the woman passed away the dogs began to feast on her remains.
By the time the authorities arrived the dogs had become vicious and wouldn’t allow anyone near the trailer where the body was. Authorities became worried that her disease might be spread by the dogs and decided that it was necessary to find a way to control the dogs. Deputies worked alongside animal control officer Rita Tharp and a veterinarian to save all of the animals. Unfortunately, the dogs bit the vet and more severe action had to be taken. Despite trying to save as many animals as possible authorities had to shoot more than 27 dogs to retrieve the woman’s remains.
12 Harry & Sally
Two pug dogs named Harry and Sally in Nebraska were forced to resort to eating the face of their own human after being starved without food for weeks. Their 51-year-old owner shot himself in the face, and thus was unable to feed the dogs so they were left to starve. The two pugs survived by feasting on the face, brain, and torso of the deceased man. Neither pug displayed blood or tissue that showed they ate their owner, but no explanation or evidence led to anyone else eating the entire top portion of the person.
Both pups were taken to the local humane society where they awaited adoption or to be claimed from the family of the deceased. Despite their somewhat traumatizing month, both dogs seemed to be well adjusted and were able to be adopted.
11 Cynthia Lee Gamble
Cynthia Lee Gamble was mauled and killed by her pet tiger after accidentally getting locked in the cage. Gamble lived at home in Minnesota with her 14-year-old son and specialized in knowledge on leopards. Gamble operated the ‘Center for Endangered Cats’ on the property and there were two other cats in the enclosure at the time of the attack. In the decade that Gamble worked with leopards on the property she had never had an issue and the sheriff had never been called.
The Center for Endangered Cats was founded in 1992 and would bring the majestic creatures to various events where they would perform tasks while on a leash. During the same year as Gamble’s attack in Minnesota, there were some other issues with exotic animals that caused scrutiny. At least two other attacks in 2006 led to injury and even left one little boy paralyzed.
10 James Little
When Little was 61 years old he took a nap one afternoon and woke up with his Shiba Inu nibbling on his toes. The dog had actually completely eaten the body parts before the man woke up, which was possible as Little suffered a loss of sensation due to diabetes. As cringeworthy as this sounds, the dog was actually looking out for the well-being of his owner. Chewing off the diabetes infected toes is the natural instinct of some breeds of dog to help remove diseased flesh.
After a couple of days, Little reported that he was doing just fine and so was his four-legged friend. Little put the dog up for adoption after the incident despite it being a good deed. Once the incident had been contained the Shiba Inu was put in quarantine and monitored for violent behavior. Local Animal Control decided that the dog was not at all dangerous, despite the urge to eat diseased toes!
9 Shaianna Hare
In the Summer of 2011, a horror story emerged when a pet python in Florida strangled a 2-year-old to death in Sumter County. The owner of the snake was the toddler’s mother and step-father and they couldn’t afford to feed the pet.
In fact, the last meal that the python had was one month prior to the incident and the snake had escaped 10 times since the last feeding. The snake measured at 8 feet 6 inches and hadn’t eaten since being fed a roadkill squirrel. Aside from the horrible feeding schedule the snake was stored in an enclosure that wasn’t at all appropriate for the python. It was stored in a 150-gallon aquarium with only a quilt placed over the top.
The snake weighed only half of the size that it should and was completely emaciated. After the death of this little girl, her mother and her mother’s boyfriend faced manslaughter charges and the state cracked down on the ownership of exotic and illegal pets.
8 Kelly Ann Walz
Kelly Ann Walz lived in Ross Township in Pennsylvania with her husband, an exotic animals dealer. While cleaning the cage of her 350-pound bear she was attacked and it did not take long before the 37-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. To distract the bear Walz threw dog food into the other side of the 15’ x 15’ concrete cage while she cleaned, but that didn’t work on that fated day. Both Walz’s children and the neighbor kids witnessed the entire attack before her neighbor shot the bear.
To illustrate the intensity of the situation, the shot was fired while the bear was still on top of Walz. After the accident, it was noted that the permits were not up to date and World of Reptiles Inc. was operating with an expired license.
It was also noted that there is protocol when cleaning the cage of an exotic animal like a bear. Generally, the cage has two sections so the animal can be secluded while the worker is completely free and safe to clean the cage without a threat of attack.
7 Charla Nash
Nash’s friend Sandra Harold owned a 200-lb. chimp as a domesticated pet, but she couldn’t get him back in the cage one day so she called Charla Nash. The chimp, Travis, then went on a rampage and started it all off by mauling the face off of Charla Nash.
It took almost a year for Nash to slowly recover from an accident that left her close to death. The two women had been friends for almost 30 years, but after the accident, they remained in civil lawsuits until Harold’s death. Police that arrived at the scene of the accident reported fingers strewn everywhere and that Nash’s hands looked like they had been put through a meat grinder. These exotic animals aren’t meant to be pets, they are meant to live in the wild and accidents like these only prove it.
6 Marius Els
South African farmer Marius Els raised his pet hippopotamus, Humphrey since he was a mere five months old. In interviews, Els described the hippo as being ‘like a son’ to him, but one day the hippo brutally attacked the farmer. This attack led to the death of Els and his mutilated body was found submerged in a river that runs through his 400-acre estate. By the time of the attack Humphrey had grown to about 1200 kg and Marius Els was so comfortable that he even rode on the hippos back. Before his death, Els kept over 20 types of exotic, somewhat dangerous, animals as pets. Along with Humphrey Els stocked his large plot of land with giraffes and even a rhino, but Humphrey was his favorite. This wasn’t the first attack from Humphrey, as he had previously threatened a pair who was canoeing. These two incidents should help make it clear why hippos should remain in the wild.
5 Mark Voegel
Neighbors of ‘Spider-Man’ Loner Voegel complained about a horrific smell wafting from his apartment and when police arrived they said it was like a scene from a horror film. Voegel owned over 200 insects, reptiles, and other creepy (and crawly!) pets. The 30-year-old man was found draped over the couch covered in spider webs and it was said the deadly bite was delivered by the potent black widow.
Police saw spiders crawling all over his cobweb-covered flesh, including crawling in and out of his orifices. An expert that entered the domicile cited that many of his pets were illegal. The scene was horrific as the reptiles had ripped off pieces of his flesh and the black widows carried the rotting pieces of their loving owner back to their webs. The whole apartment was bathed in the green light of terrariums but each cage was open, allowing every pet their chance at the owner.
4 Grant Williams
Back in 1996, Grant Williams had a pet python that measured around 13 feet. The pair lived together in the Bronx, New York, but on a Fall afternoon, Williams was found lying in a pool of blood in his apartment with his beloved python coiled around his torso. He was pronounced dead at the hospital and the snake was donated to the Bronx zoo.
Williams and his 17-year-old brother Lamar purchased the snake from a Bronx pet store five months prior for $300. There was a live chicken found in a box by where the body was discovered which led authorities to believe that the accident was probably feeding related. It is because of accidents like this that many informed experts reiterate that all owners of snakes like this should feed them while they are safely locked in their enclosures. It is pretty clear at this point that these feeding a large snake is nothing like feeding a dog or cat.
3 Andre Lamboga
When the 50-year-old arrived home from his trip he lined up his suitcases in front of the house and went inside where he shot himself. It took two weeks for someone to notice that something was up, as by this time the pungent aroma was so intense that a guard could smell it from beyond the driveway. Andre Lamboga owned seven dogs who feasted on his brains until the sad decline of their owner was discovered by other humans. Lamboga’s body was found in the front of the house while his skull was found in the kitchen, making it clear how he chose to end his life.
Along with his remains, authorities found the bones of two other dogs who are rumored to have been eaten by the rabid dogs as well. The predominantly Christian area of the northern Sulawesi Island where Lamboga was from is also known for serving spicy foods made with dogs, bats, and forest rats.
2 Herbert Walden & Jane Walden
In 2010 Herbert Walden was taking care of his dying mother Jane when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Herbert passed away that day and eventually his mother passed on too without his care. The pair seemed to live among piles and piles of garbage with dozens of cats and apparently there was no running water to the house. Because of the lack of running water, the toilets weren’t useful, so it appears that the Waldens would defecate into buckets. When the bodies were discovered there was also a dead dog along with three deceased cats stashed in the basement. There were so many cats, in fact, that they started to feed on their diseased owners. To this day authorities are still not sure if the cats were pets or if they were attracted to the huge piles of garbage. Despite where they came from all of the cats were taken to the local animal shelter.
Walden was 74 years old when he passed away and his mother was 94.
1 Terry Vance Garner
The Oregon pig farmer set out to feed his pigs one night and never returned, leading many family members to ask what might have happened to him. Several hours later Garner’s glasses and pieces of his body were found inside of the pig enclosure. By the time he was found most of his body parts had been consumed. Garner had previously reported being bitten by at least one of the pigs before.
The district attorney assumed that he might have had a heart attack or was knocked over by the pigs and then consumed. The weirdness of the act made authorities consider foul play, especially since domestic pigs rarely get violent. That being said, these pigs were more than double the size of most pigs (some weighing up to 700 pounds), which might be why they developed more violent tendencies than their genetic predecessors.
Garner was 69 years old when he passed away.
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