Students Bring Unlikely Roommates—Pets—to Harvard Dorms

Corley E. Stone

Harvard dormitories often house lab rats and party animals. The girl next door might be as quiet as a mouse, and your roommate can sometimes be a pig.

In addition to these commonplace dorm residents, you may have a more surprising critter for a neighbor—a real live animal.

In dorms across Harvard, students are secretly raising animals, violating the College’s no-pets policy.

Small animals like hamsters, turtles, and fish are the most common. More exotic pets, including a python and chinchillas, have also found homes in Harvard undergraduates’ rooms. The Crimson has confirmed the presence of one rabbit and several cats—and rumors swirl about a pig residing in Adams and a dog that lived in the Quad a few years ago.

Pet owners say that these animals provide an offbeat conversation starter, comforting companionship, and a sense of home in a temporary living space. But if College administrators discover these residents’ secret sidekicks, students can be forced to relocate their pets and may even face disciplinary consequences.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

A senior chuckles as Mashie II—his third hamster in three years—climbs the metal rungs of her cage, which fits snugly on his bookshelf.

“They love whipped cream,” he says, squirting some of the sugary confection onto his index finger.

In a dorm room nearby, another  rodent—a black rat named Behemoth—has a healthier favorite food: grapes. Raised in a household that kept as many as nine cats at a time, Behemoth’s owner has a convenient source of sustenance for her pet. “I steal a lot of rat food from the dining hall,” she admits.

Behemoth scrambles over her owner’s body and futon as her owner chatters to her, calling her names like “dear” and “buddy.”

“Can you not eat my statistics book?” she says, chiding her gently.

“I love having pets,” she says. “It’s a pretty good stress reliever. They aren’t going to complain to you about the p-set that they have due in 40 minutes.”

Some students look beyond mammals for creature comforts.

One senior kept his pet python, which he has had since sixth grade, in his room at Harvard during his sophomore year.

Though the four-foot-long python, named Monty, has been in residence with the student’s parents since the student moved out of his spacious DeWolfe suite, the python’s owner has fond memories of it slithering around the common room while he studied.

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