9 Most Unusual Pets

1Lynne (and 7 others): the Rothschild giraffes who share a family dinner table

In many ways, the setting is just a typical family breakfast. Young children and their mother enjoy croissants and orange juice while sitting around a table together. But things become a little different when you notice a giraffe poking its head through the window to join them for a drink and a bite to eat. In fact, the Carr-Hartley family has the unusual distinction of sharing their home with eight Rothschild giraffes, some of the rarest on the planet. Talk about weird pets. In the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's tallest animals are free to roam their 140-acre estate and are regular visitors at their English-style manor built in the colonial era. Every day shortly before 9am, the mammal beasts stroll up to the house and poke their heads through the windows and doors in search of morning treats. Owners Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley literally share their dining table with them. They know all of the giraffes by name: 13-year-old Lynne is the leader of the herd and can be very persistent about getting treats.

2Nils Olav: the knighted penguin

Penguin Nils Olav has been an honorary member and mascot of the Norwegian King's Guard since 1972. After over 35 years of ‘duty' he was knighted at Edinburgh Zoo. During the ceremony, Nils had a sword dubbed on each side of his head, where his shoulders should be, to confirm his regimental knighthood. A citation from King Harald of Norway was read out, which described Nils as a penguin 'in every way qualified to receive the honor and dignity of knighthood.'

3Nick Boing: the lamb who couldn't adapt with other sheep

What happens when an animal can't get along with his own kind? Well, he moves in with some kind humans and becomes one of those strange pets. At least that's what happened to this little lamb - Nick Boing, an unusual pet with an unusual name. Nick's story began about three years ago when his owner David Palmer and his family were visiting the Goldcliff Nature Reserve in Newport, Wales. They stumbled upon a newborn lamb bleating in the reserve's tall grass. They picked it up and tried to leave it at a nearby farm - However, the lamb refused to go and kept following the Palmer family around until they decided to take him home. After that, there was no going back! Though the Palmers tried to take the lamb back to a farm twice, he refused to settle down with the other sheep. They finally gave up and decided to just keep him.

Now Nick Boing spends his days sitting near the front door, watching the world go by, and nights on the family sofa watching television. He has his own 'mansion' complete with carpet and windows in the yard, but only goes there reluctantly when pushed out at night and that too after a special treat.

4Fantik: the llama who lives in an apartment

Russian bear trainer Dimitry Nikolau keeps an unusual pet in his Moscow apartment. Fantik has been his pet for over 10 years. Dimitry decided to give up beat training after he became a father. He then adopted a llama who was shot by thieves at his garden. He got another llama who was been living with him ever since. He is now looking for a kangaroo to expand the family.

5Tommy Tucker: the fashion modelling squirrel

Tommy Tucker was a squirrel adopted by a woman in Washington DC in the early 1940s after she found the critter orphaned in a tree. He soon became part of the family, as it were -- accompanying the lady of the house on shopping trips, for instance. She also, it turned out, enjoyed dressing him up in specially made outfits. Tommy became immortalized after posing for fashion photography by Nina Leen/Time & Life Pictures.

6The nameless two-headed turtle

A two-headed turtle found in Florida was residing at Sean Casey's Animal Rescue in Kensington, a Brooklyn pet store -. The rare reptile had became the store's mascot. Casey got the two-headed turtle from a man in Florida who rescued a bunch of eggs after an adult female was killed by a car. When the turtle started to deteriorate the man turned to Sean Casey Animal Rescue (www.scarnyc .org), a nonprofit in Kensington specializing in exotic creatures. Casey nursed it back to health at home, and then brought the tank to his pet store, Hamilton Dog House on E. Third St...

Usually, such severely deformed turtles die soon after birth, but Casey says this animal could live for many years - if not to the average age of 75 to 100, but it takes special precautions to keep the oddity safe like feeding each head by hand, because otherwise they fight over the little pellets. Unfortunately the popular pet was stolen from the pet store.

7Lance Corporal William Windsor, alias Billy: the parade Royal goat

From his gleaming headplate to his immaculately groomed whiskers, Lance Corporal William Windsor, the former Royal Welsh Regiment mascot, looked every inch the proud old soldier as he left camp for the last time. Cheering comrades lined the route from his pen to the trailer waiting to take him to the zoo, where the Army veteran informally known as Billy the Goat will spend his retirement. His send-off came with full military pomp and ceremony – befitting-his lifetime's service with the 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh. He has travelled overseas, met royalty and led every battalion parade. For the most part Billy, aged nine, has served as unbleatingly as a goat can – although he did once butt heads with top brass when he was temporarily demoted for not marching in time.

8Caplin Rous: the needy capybara

Capybara owner Melanie Typaldos is very happy with her giant hamster pet. Her mascot is named Caplin Rous as in Rodents Of Unusual Size from the Princess Bride. She describes him as needy. He always wants to be with her and follows her around the house and the yard. He also knows when it's time for his owner to come back from work and waits for her. A truly caring mascot.

9Jessica: the ¾ ton hippopotamus

Want a pet that drinks 10 liters of coffee a day, weighs 3/4 of a ton, and destroys your bed when it jumps on it? Then you should meet Jessica, the hippo. When a newborn baby hippo was washed up by a flood onto the lawn of his riverside home, the game ranger who found the dying animal lovingly nursed her back to health.

The weakened female survived, put on weight, and grew, I mean, really grew. Now the hippo thinks it's a family pet and become a giant-sized problem. For what started out as a cute, tubby 35lbs baby is now a boisterous seven-year-old - equivalent to a human 'teenager' -.weighing nearly three-quarters of a ton. And like many modern teenagers, Jessica, as she has been named, finds family life too comfortable and just won't leave home. Attempts to reintroduce her to the wild have all failed. And, being free to roam, the danger now is that she will be attacked and killed by other hippos - or shot by local farmers protecting their animals and crops.

The reason Jessica prefers family life to that of a wallowing big hippopotamus are clear: she eats, sleeps, swims and plays with retired game warden Tonie Joubert and wife Shirley at their home in South Africa. She wanders round the house, drinks coffee on the verandah, hangs out with the pet dogs and enjoys Shirley's soothing massages that help her relax at the end of a happy hippo day.

There is no strict daily routine, but certain crucial things must not be missed - such as the 10 litres of sweet warm coffee, which Tonie bottle-feeds her with every day, or the dog pellets which she expects as treats. Most nights, Jessica totters off back to the river for a mudbath. But on other occasions she'll wander into the house, wet and dripping slime and plonk herself on the couple's bed. She has broken the Jouberts' bed three times.