5 of the Strangest Presidential Pets

Being President of the United States of America is such an important job, we often forget that the men who have filled this position over the years are just human like the rest of us, with their own likes, dislikes, and personal lives.

Woodrow Wilson / Lady Grace Coolidge / An Alligator / Theodore Roosevelt.
Source: Getty Images

Many of them have also been animal lovers, with the White House playing host to a veritable menagerie of creatures over the years. Read on to learn all about five of the strangest presidential pets to have ever been kept by a leader of the United States.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Menagerie

Of all the American presidents throughout history, Teddy Roosevelt was the one to indulge in his admiration for the animal kingdom in the most extreme ways during his time in the White House. While some other presidents had a strange pet or two, Roosevelt basically had his own personal zoo of creatures.

Teddy Roosevelt Riding a Moose
Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis/Getty Images

He had snakes, a lion, a hyena, a zebra, a badger, and a total of five bears, as well as plenty of guinea pigs, cats, dogs, birds, horses, and more. He named his guinea pigs Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, and Father O’Grady.

Calvin Coolidge’s Raccoon

Roosevelt had his own zoo, but Calvin Coolidge also kept quite a lot of different animals at the White House. He didn’t go as far as getting hyenas and zebras, but he did have a bobcat, a hippo, a bear, a wallaby, and a raccoon.

Grace Coolidge holds up her pet raccoon.
Photo by Herbert French/PhotoQuest/Getty Images

The raccoon was given special pride of place as the personal pet of Coolidge’s wife, Grace. She kept it on a leash and walked it around the White House. Interestingly, the family had originally been sent the raccoon to eat, but they saw how tame and friendly it was, so decided to let it live with them instead.

John Quincy Adams’ Alligator

An alligator definitely doesn’t sound like an ideal pet, but John Quincy Adams kept one in the White House. He received the gator as a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette. The story goes that Adams decidedly to keep the reptile in a bathroom and often used it to scare his guests.

An image of an alligator riding in a car.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Adams’ gator wasn’t the only one to be kept at the White House, Allan Hoover, Herbert Hoover’s son, also owned not one but two gators while living at the presidential home. Feeding those gators must have been a scary experience.

Woodrow Wilson’s Sheep

President Woodrow Wilson, who was in office from 1913 to 1921 and served as the 28th president, decided to keep some sheep out on the White House lawn. Keeping sheep isn’t the strangest thing in the world on the face of it, but when we learn exactly why he had them, the story becomes a little stranger.

Woodrow Wilson Used Sheep to Mow the White House Lawn
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

To keep costs down during World War I, Wilson decided to get some sheep out on the grass as his own natural ‘lawnmowers.’ The sheep grazed away all day, keeping the lawn well-maintained.

Martin Van Buren’s Tiger Cubs

Martin Van Buren was the eighth president of the United States, serving from 1837 to 1841. He was the first president born after the independence of the US, and he was also the only president on record to have kept tigers at the White House.

Royal Bengal Tiger with Cub
Image is for illustration purposes only. Source: Shutterstock.com

The Tigers were just babies, and they were given as a gift to the president by Said bin Sultan, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman. Congress eventually forced Van Buren to give the tigers to a zoo so they could lead a happier life and be better cared for.