Jane Loudon was so enchanted by a black monkey which she encountered when visiting friends that she bought it for her 10 year old daughter Agnes. They kept it outside on the verandah in summer and in a cage in the library in winter. I have a suspicion that the monkey may not have been as delightful as she had hoped because when, a few years later, she wrote a book on pets* she said: “Monkeys are extremely fond of mischief, and are frequently vicious and spiteful to children”.
One pet about which Jane Loudon has no reservations is the squirrel, which she places next to the cat and dog as a good pet for the house. In the early morning I’m often delighted by the sight from my bedroom window of squirrels running up and down the yew trees and jumping from branch to branch. I think I’d throw a fit if one got indoors, but Jane Loudon describes how they “will run up a window curtain, and along the cornice at the top, with wonderful grace and agility”.
She was of course referring to the red squirrel, but she also recommends the grey which, she says is “very beautiful, and which is a native of Carolina”. It’s also a native of Cumbria now, and it might be an idea to train them as pets, instead of killing them when they become a pest in the garden.
*Domestic Pets – Jane Loudon 1850