fishpond
The Piscina of Senex Caecilius

The tank contains several kinds of fish, including little minnows and shiners, but my favorites are the big, mottled carp. They are so tame that they feed from my hand. (The one below is named Sushi!) My neighbor favors eels, but I find them too slippery to the touch... and those teeth!

As you might surmise, I raise these fish for fun, not for food. Their colors and their movements among the water lilies add interest to the garden, and they help to control the algae and mosquitoes, too.

Here is some additional information about other pets in Roman times.

  • Dogs were bred for herding and hunting, but they were also kept as watchdogs and as pets, and usually given names.
  • Cats imported from Egypt were primarily used to control vermin and were not given names. They were not domesticated in Rome until the first century AD.
  • Rabbits were the favored pets of little girls.
  • Other creatures included birds like pigeons, doves, parrots, blackbirds, nighingales, or peacocks and exotic animals like monkeys, lynxes, tigers, cheetahs, or lions.
  • Less exotic animals that were kept as pets included ichneumons (a type of mongoose), deer, ponies, goats, and gazelles.
  • Reptiles such as non-poisonous snakes and lizards were also kept as pets.
  • The Latin term deliciae, which translates as "pet" in English, was actually applied to a little boy or girl slave or foundling whom the master found cute and treated as a plaything.


    Some of the preceding information comes from Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, written by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins and published in1994 by The Oxford University Press (New York).

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