The art of keeping pets at university digs

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One student hid her rats in the wardrobe during the landlord’s visit.


Leaving home can be an emotional experience for many students. They’re thrown into an entirely new environment and for some this can result in terrible homesickness. Many students miss their mums and dads, others miss the comfort of their king sized bed. But for some students the thing they miss the most is their pet!

But what do students do when they can’t live without their furry friends? The answer is simple: Buy some new ones.

However, it’s not always that easy as some university accommodations ban the keeping of pets, although, this has done little to stop some more rebellious students for whom the skill of hiding their pets has become an art form.

For Tegen and Rhea, two 20-year-old students living in Bristol, keeping their rats Frida Kahlo and Patti Smith out of their landlord’s vision was a simple task.

Tegen said: “I hid them when we had a visit. We put them in the wardrobe.”

She added that stopping the rats from causing a mess wasn’t a problem: “They were in my room with me and they were never allowed on the floor or anything only on my bed obviously we hoovered and stuff around the cage because of sawdust, but they’re real clean animals.”

Frida and Patti

Although Frida and Patti sadly passed away after two years, Tegen explained she does not regret her choice of keeping the rats in her university digs: “They were so much fun. Patti died when we were in Bristol and we buried her in the garden. But they lived for almost two years and were the best pets ever.”

For 21-year-old Bournemouth University student Jodie, playing music was the key to stopping her landlord from discovering hamster Lucy.

She explained:”I just put the cage and all the stuff for her in my wardrobe and made sure I had music on in case she started running in her wheel making noise.” According to Jodie, Lucy was very calm and would often make an appearance at parties without biting any of her friends that pet her.

She admitted hiding Lucy was a small task in comparison to the affection she received:

“It was definitely worth having to hide her, growing up with a pet dog I get hugely attached to animals and am such an animal lover that having her was so nice, it’s like having a little furry companion you can just bust out whenever you’re stressed. Got a deadline soon? Hamster cuddles. Bad tinder date? Hamster cuddles. Friend drama? Hamster cuddles. The hamster will never leave you.”

Lucy the hamster

According to Mike a 23-year-old Bournemouth University student whose housemate kept a kitten, the task of hiding a pet can have negative implications if not done properly.

He said: “The cat got fleas into the house and the landlord found out, it resulted in some of our deposits being taken off us.”

When asked how his housemate tried to keep the kittens presence a secret, he explained: “She would move the kitten into the car and one time into the back garden behind a BBQ when we had a house viewing.”

Mike also described how ironically the actions his flatmate took in order to keep the cat hidden eventually gave the pets presence away. He said: “The landlord found out because animal sprays were found in our waste when the property was evaluated.”

22-year-old Bournemouth University student Beth kept her large rabbit called Bruce in her living room during her second year at University.

Bruce the Bunny

In order to keep the larger than life Bruce hidden from their landlord during inspections Beth and her flatmates would regularly move him into the garden shed, which they did up to 4 times during their second year.

Although it was comforting having Bruce as a companion, he is now living in Beth’s sisters garden.

She explained: “It probably wasn’t worth having him when it came down to it because he just ran around the house, I don’t think he was very happy living in the house with students and he’s now living in my sisters garden because I felt bad. It would have been easier if he was a cat or something because they can look after themselves but we couldn’t leave him out by himself because he would eat everything including all the cables.”

Rachel a 20-year-old Bournemouth University student would often join in her flatmates attempts to hide his hamster from the Landlord during her house inspections. She explained:

“We had to hide it like behind the sofa every time there was a flat inspection and one of us would hover near it the whole time making sure they didn’t go near it/making noises to cover up it’s movement if it was awake. It was quite fun and really nice to have a bit of company – and it was adorable when we put it in it’s ball while we were all sat together in the living room/kitchen.” However, according to Rachel the hamster was her flatmates first pet and they soon grew tired of cleaning its cage. Then one day Rachel discovered the cage in the corridor half open with the dead hamster inside.

She described: “Ultimately I came home from uni one day to the cage in my hallway with it’s lid off, I looked why and the hamster was curled up dead inside. He’d found out it had died and just left it like that! It was actually quite upsetting and caused a massive rift in the flat because I let it be known that I thought he was a jerk because of it. So many people think of getting a pet in uni like it’ll be a cool toy, but then obviously have no idea that they won’t be able to stay out all night and day having fun because it needs to be looked after.”

So if you’re thinking of keeping a pet at your university digs in the future be vigilant, smart and aware of its needs.