Pets are always ready to surprise us - in the most unexpected and expensive ways. When we get a pet, there are some risks we know all about. We appreciate that cats will wander along mantlepieces, causing occasional carnage, and that dogs will chew their way through plenty of shoes on a relatively regular basis. However, there are other risks, that we have no idea about - and they can cost thousands.
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We have checked the pet insurance claim archives for the 10 most bizarre things our pets have put us through.
1. Fridge hypothermia
In the US, a family was preparing for Thanksgiving, and their dog watched them put an enormous ham in the fridge before they left the house for the day. While they were out, he managed to open the fridge door, and climb in - whereupon the door shut behind him. They discovered him hours later, with the ham bone licked clean, and suffering a mild case of hypothermia. The insurer now runs an annual Hambone Award for the oddest pet insurance claim.
ExoticDirect specialises in insuring birds, mammals and reptiles. One unexpected illness that's more common than you think is anorexia. An Albino Burmese python was recently treated for it. He had a number of tests, including an endoscopy - at a cost of £1,000.
3. Turkey baster disaster
The ABI reported last year on the cocker spaniel that swallowed a turkey baster on Christmas day. The total cost of treatment amounted to over £1,600.
4. Mistaken identity
ExoticDirect insured a lizard, which was playing in a tunnel, when he mistook his own tail for another lizard. He bit his own tail off, and the vet's bill came to £280
5. Dummy obsession
A mum couldn't work out where her little girl's dummies were going, until one day she saw her daughter drop one near Lulu, her English Bulldog: when she went to pick it up, it had disappeared. An X-ray was unclear, so the vet said she would need surgery to find it. During the surgery they found 15 dummies, a bottle cap and a piece of basketball. Lulu picked up the Hambone award that year.
6. Red wine and rich food?
ExoticDirect recently paid out £585 for a bearded dragon with gout. Apparently his owner hadn't been experimenting with red wine and roast beef - it just happens when largely vegetarian reptiles are fed lots of animal protein.
7. Jeans genie
Myles the Great Dane had a habit of eating socks belonging to his owner's toddlers. He was chastised, but nothing untoward came of his habit. However, one day, he upped the ante, and ate an entire pair of jeans. He had an operation to remove the jeans - which were still all in one piece. He was nominated for a Hambone award for his effort.
8. Artificial additives
ExoticDirect also came across a Tokay Geko which mistook an artificial plant for a real one - and ate part of it. It needed a £520 operation to remove it from its stomach.
9. That's a wrap
Charm, the Persian cat had a reputation for getting into scrapes, so when he started acting oddly and being sick, the family feared the worst. Fortunately, after a few days he managed to vomit up the three feet of parcel tape he'd swallowed. He was nominated for a Hambone Award.
10. Chair incident
Rosie the Sphinx cat loved to hide around her Texas home, and all went well until she decided to hide inside a reclining chair - and the owners reclined. She was stuck in the chair, but was retrieved and made a full recovery. She picked up a Hambone award nomination.