Tessa Carrion: Pet Enthusiast

Carrion sits in the Oakton Lobby after talking about her 12 pets.

By Gloria Kosir, Feature Editor

Every morning, senior Tessa Carrion sits up in her bed, looking across her room where another pair of eyes are looking back at her. Her six-month-old ball python, Iris, sits in her cage, waiting for Carrion to wake up. Iris is just one of the twelve pets that Carrion has in her apartment.

“Sometimes I think, ‘why do I have all of these pets?’ but then again I love them, and I take care of them, so I just move that aside because I want to continue with [having pets],” Carrion said.

Carrion has twelve pets ranging from dogs to snakes. She has three dogs that are named Remy, Jubily, and Luke, as well as two cats, Logan and Raven. Carrion also has a rabbit named Emma and a hamster named Gus Gus. In addition to these typical American pets, Carrion has some exotic animals living with her. She has two axolotls, an amphibian that is commonly known as a “walking fish” and is from Mexico. She also has a hedgehog which is named Chub-Chub, and Iris, her ball python.

“Some of them don’t like to be handled. They can be handled, but you have to do it calmly and making sure that they’re in a safe environment. With the snake, I can’t handle it for too long, or it’ll get stressed out. The hedgehog will try to poke you once it gets stressed out, so you have to put him back,” Carrion said.

Having trust with her pets is very important to Carrion. Her current goal is to gain more trust with Iris and Chub-Chub, and she’s working towards it by spending more time with them.

“Yeah, [I spend a lot of my day with my pets], they’re always with me,” Carrion said.

Besides working to build trust between her and her pets, Carrion also has to take care of them.

“It’s hard to balance them, school and my other hobbies. Over the weekend, I’ll have to take a whole day just to clean all my pets, and it takes time,” Carrion said.

Although Carrion doesn’t clean their beds and cages regularly, she still needs to make sure they are well fed and given enough water. She needs to change the paper towels at the bottoms of their cages, clean the tank filter, make sure that the dogs are walked and much more. Because her younger brothers help out with the animals, it makes cleaning and caring for them more enjoyable.

“I like the challenge because I have to learn new things. Before I get them, I have to research a whole bunch, and then I show my parents, ‘this is what I learned,’ and then they decide,” Carrion said.

Even though her parents love their pets, it was Carrion and her brothers who begged their parents to let them get the pets. Carrion’s mother grew up with over a dozen dogs, so she’s used to living alongside man’s best friend. “I definitely get it from my mom’s side,” Carrion said about her love for animals.

Carrion believes that people considering to adopt a pet should do their research before making their decision.

“I would say to make sure to do all your research because once you’re stuck with it, it’s going to be with you for a while since most [pets] live about 10 to 20 years and make sure it’s the right pet for you. Just think, ‘should I get this pet, am I going to take care of it well?’ For your first time pet, get something you can handle, and you can bond with every single day because if you get a snake for your first pet, it’s going to take a lot more to handle than a dog… People don’t realize that once you buy a pet, it’s your’s for your entire life, not just until you get bored playing with it. I think that’s why there are tons of animals in shelters,” Carrion said.

While Carrion loves her pets, some of her friends and family think a little differently.

“They think we’re crazy. They’re like, ‘I’m not going into that house with that many pets,’ or they’ll make sure the snake is in its cage and I’m like, ‘you don’t need to worry about it,'” Carrion said.

However, with all the skepticism, there are still admirers.

“They’re amazed. They ask me questions like, ‘how can you have so many pets?’ and, ‘how do you even live in a house with that many pets?'” Carrion said.

Even her teachers enjoy Carrion’s responsibility that she gained from caring for her 12 pets.

“Tessa is a hardworking, dedicated, and conscientious student. From her getting-to-know-you form, I’ve noticed that she has a lot of different types of pets,” health careers teacherĀ Lisa Dunham said.

Carrion’s hard work ethic is shown in how she cares for each and every one of her pets, but she still has favorites.

“I [favor] my dog Jubily the most, since she’s just always with me and always at my side,” Carrion said.

Carrion’s love for animals is a huge part of her life, and her caring nature shines through in her personality.