Despite official warnings, more and more people are now opting for ‘exotic’ animals as pets. For all we know, it works out well for many of them, as quite a few animals are capable of developing a genuine bond with their human companions as long as they’re properly cared for. Sadly, some wild animals are simply not meant to be pets. There have been many cases of unusual pets turning on their owners and killing them, and sometimes even eating them.
10. Ricky Weinhold, Killed By Pet Bull
Bulls are mostly calm and docile animals, though they can be quite territorial and aggressive when they want to be. Ricky Weinhold – a 52-year-old farm owner from Philadelphia – found that out the hard way when, in February, 2010, he was attacked and killed by one of his pet bulls. The incident happened when he went to his barn, which he had leased to keep his 10 cattle animals as pets. According to his family, Weinhold had a strong bond with his animals and would visit the farm daily to care for them, especially a newborn calf that he was looking after.
All of Weinhold’s injuries were inflicted by the hooves and head of the bull, though it wasn’t the first time he was attacked, as the same bull had cracked his ribs the previous summer. The body was discovered by the farm owner’s son, Dale Zimmerman, in the barn stables.
9. Marius Els, Killed By Pet Hippo
Marius Els was a 40-year-old Army major living in South Africa, along with his pet hippo named Humphrey. He had rescued it when it was just five months old, considering it to be a part of his family. Sadly, the hippo didn’t share that sentiment, and made it clear one afternoon when it dragged Els to the river and repeatedly bit him to death.
According to his own accounts, Humphrey was ‘lovable’ and a ‘gentle giant’, comparing it to regular pets like cats and dogs. In reality, hippos are known to be one of the most dangerous and aggressive animals on Earth, responsible for more deaths than lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos…combined. Before this incident, there had also been other instances of misbehavior in the past, like the killing of calves belonging to El’s business partner and chasing unsuspecting travelers on the river. Humphrey had even broken out of its enclosure and threatened nearby golfers on some occasions.
8. Daniel Brandon, Killed By Pet African Rock Python
On August 25, 2018, 31-year-old Dan Brandon from Hampshire, UK was killed by his pet African rock python Tiny. Dan was a well-known snake owner, and was known to post pictures with his collection of pet snakes – including Tiny – on social media sites. As for Tiny, while there had been cases of it acting aggressively in the past, it had been largely friendly towards Dan.
The incident happened in the night, when Dan’s mother heard a loud noise from his room. When she went inside, she found her son unconscious in his bedroom, with the python coiled under a cabinet. According to a snake expert that had examined Tiny and its relationship with its owner in the past, Dan would have known how to unwrap a python if it happened to threaten his safety by coiling around him. No marks or scratches were found on Tiny’s skin, however, suggesting that things got out of control before Dan knew what was happening.
7. Marvin Hajos, Killed By Pet Cassowary
Cassowaries are large, emu-like birds from northern Australia and New Guinea. In April, 2015, a 75-year-old man named Marvin Hajos was killed by one on his farm in Alachua, Florida. Along with the cassowary, Hajos had kept many other exotic animals as pets on his property.
The incident occurred when he accidentally stumbled and fell while doing his routine chores, prompting the attack that severely injured him. Hajos was then transported to UF Health Shands Hospital under a trauma alert, where he passed away within the next few hours.
Sometimes called the world’s most dangerous bird, the cassowary is known for its powerful legs and sharp, dagger-like claws, and can cause a lot of damage when threatened. While attacks on humans are rare, they can happen in response to perceived threats or while defending their food or offspring.
6. Terry Vance Garner, Killed By Pet Hogs
Terry Vance Garner was a 69-year-old farmer from Oregon who was possibly killed and eaten by his own hogs. It happened when he went out to feed his animals on his farm near the Oregon coast, though his family members grew suspicious when he didn’t return. It was only several hours later that one of them went out to investigate and stumbled upon his remains in the enclosure. Only dentures and small pieces of his body were recovered, as the hogs had eaten most of his remains by that time.
The exact circumstances of Garner’s death remain a mystery even today. Some think that he suffered a medical emergency like a heart attack, though other theories say that he was knocked over by the animals and subsequently killed and eaten, as one of the hogs had previously bitten him. He could also have been murdered by someone else entirely, as a pathologist’s examination failed to determine the precise cause or manner of his death.
5. Sandra Piovesan, Killed By Pet Wolf Dogs
Wolf dogs are hybrid animals bred by mating wolves with domestic dogs. Sandra Piovesan, a 50-year-old woman from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, kept nine of them in a large enclosure in her backyard, probably assuming that they’re more wolves and dogs. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as her husband found her mauled and partially eaten by the same animals inside the enclosure.
The death was initially ruled an accident. An officer with Action for Animals and the Westmoreland County Humane Society later determined that a pack of that size would typically require 50 to 100 square miles to roam and hunt, which is likely why they attacked their owner.
All nine wolf dogs were euthanized in the enclosure after consulting with Piovesan’s family. According to official reports, most of the animals weighed between 70 to 100 pounds, and some were around seven or eight years old.
4. Shaianna Hare, Killed By Pet Burmese Python
On July 1, 2009, a two-year-old girl named Shaianna Hare was strangled and killed by the family’s pet python – a 12-foot-long albino Burmese python named Gypsy. The mother, Jaren Hare, and her boyfriend, Charles Darnell, were charged with manslaughter, third-degree murder, and child neglect due to the incident.
Darnell, who owned the python, was the first person on the scene, when he found the snake coiled around the toddler. He tried to loosen its grip by repeatedly stabbing it, though it was already too late. At the time, Gypsy had been let out of its 200-gallon aquarium to play.
According to Florida’s state laws, pythons are required to be registered with the state and kept under lock and key. Further investigations revealed that the snake had previously escaped from its tank multiple times, though it wasn’t taken seriously by Hare or Darnell.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission confiscated the python and another snake in the home, placing them in a licensed facility after treating the python for stab wounds.
3. Ngah Muhammad, Killed By Pet Monkey
Ngah Muhammad was a 72-year-old resident of Kampung Lebang Besar in northwestern Malaysia. In June, 2019, he was bitten by his five-year-old pet monkey on the wrist, resulting in a deep wound that ultimately killed him due to excessive bleeding.
It happened around 10am, when he was behind his house with the monkey trying to train it to climb coconut trees. We don’t know the exact details of the encounter, as Muhammad was found by his son and neighbor in the aftermath, possibly long after he had already died. His 29-year-old son, Mohd Zakaria Ngah, was also bitten on his neck by the monkey.
2. Pam Weaver, Killed By Pet Camel
In August, 2007, 60-year-old Pam Weaver was found dead at her family’s sheep and cattle property in Queensland, Australia. The primary suspect was the family’s pet camel, which had been recently gifted to Pam as a birthday present by her husband and daughter. According to previous reports, the 10-month-old camel had tried to smother the family’s pet goat multiple times by sitting on it.
As it was confirmed later, the camel had knocked Weaver to the ground and stomped on her, which is likely what killed her. According to the detective working on the case, the animal had rolled around on the ground during the incident and left deep footprints on her face and arm, leading to her death by suffocation.
According to one camel expert, the camel’s actions were consistent with mating behavior observed in male camels, suggesting that it may have tried to mate with the victim before killing her.
1. Mark Voegel, Killed By Pet Black Widow Spider
Mark Voegel was a 30-year-old man living in Dortmund, Germany with an assortment of exotic pets, including some of the most dangerous animals found in the wild. When his corpse was discovered by the police after a neighbor complained about the disturbing odor coming from the house, they stumbled upon a scene straight out of a horror movie. Voegel’s lifeless body was sprawled over the sofa, with giant spider webs and live spiders crawling all over his body. Some were even going in and out of his nose and mouth, along with several lizards, snakes, termites, and other creepy crawlies freely roaming around the house.
As it was found later, Voegel had succumbed to a fatal bite from one of his pet black widow spiders, though it wasn’t clear how the other animals got out of their cages. According to Gabi Bayer, an expert in spiders and animal cruelty, Voegel’s collection included creatures ill-suited for private homes, especially the aggressive spiders, which she described as the ‘pit bulls of the animal world’.