Top Presidential “First Pets” of the White House


“When I hear of the destruction of a species, I feel just as if all the works of some great writer have perished” stated Theodore Roosevelt. He had more pets in the White House than any other president. The newest white house pet has been added to the presidential family. Willow the cat is the new “First Cat” under President Biden. While in recent years White House pets have been commonly dogs and cats, historically there have been some strange animals residing in the home of the President.


Number 1: John Quincy Adams and his Alligator

It is rumored that Marquis de Lafayette gifted Adams a pet alligator. He supposedly kept the alligator in a bathtub for two months and used it to scare and terrorize guests. While there has been no historical proof of the alligator, it is still a funny story to tell. According to the myth of Adams and his alligator is “too hilarious to be true.”

Number 2: Andrew Jackson’s Cursing Parrot, Polly

            Andrew Jackson, elected president in 1830, brought with him to the White House his bird Polly. A bird itself isn’t that unusual, but this particular bird swore like a sailor. He most likely picked up his dialect from Jackson himself, who was known for his usage of inappropriate words. The bird’s swearing problem was so bad, at the funeral service of Andrew Jackson, Polly let out obscenities so offensive that she had to be escorted out.

Number 3: President Martin Van Buren’s Two Tiger Cubs

The Sultan of Oman paid a visit to the White House during Van Buren’s presidency, and he left with him two baby tiger cubs. Unfortunately, his time with the cubs was very short-lived. Congress believed that tigers were apparently unfit for the White House, and therefore, should be removed. Van Buren did fight congress on this and argued that “they had been given to him and that he wanted to keep them” (Business Insider). They still had to be removed and were then placed in a Washington zoo.

Number 4: President Calvin Coolidge and Rebecca the Racoon

            Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace Coolidge, were very into animals and having “unusual” pets. They had a pet donkey, a pet goose, and even a pet raccoon named Rebecca. Rebecca was originally meant to be a part of the first family’s Thanksgiving Dinner, but she was saved by the president and joined the family.

Number 5: Theodore Roosevelt and his Menagerie of Pets

Theodore Roosevelt did not just have one strange pet, but he had an entire collection. He had multiple guinea pigs, all with unique names. They were named Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, and Father O’Grady. He also had a small pet bear named Johnathan Edwards. He also had a pig, a rooster, an owl, a rabbit, a pony, and many, many more. He was a very big animal activist.