President Theodore Roosevelt was noted for his love of animals, and he passed this gift on to his children, all of whom had several pets during their own lifetimes. Some of those pets were a bit non-traditional and even caused a stir on occasion. His son Quentin, for example, had snakes as pets for a time.
Quentin Roosevelt was described as a sickly young lad, like his father had been when younger. However, Quentin was also seen frequently engaging in roughhousing and other mischief, such as throwing snowballs at guards. When he grew older, he joined the Air Corps, continuing a history of familial service to the country. Tragically, he crashed and died on July 14th, 1918.
As a youngster in the White House, Quentin caused a stir with his snakes. One time he burst into a meeting between his father and the Attorney General with one large king snake in hand and two more, smaller snakes on his arms.
According to an article in the New York Times archives, when the family was in their Oyster Bay home, Quentin’s snake had gone missing just before the trip back to Washington. Happily, just before they left, the snake was found. But when they arrived in Washington, the snake seemed lethargic and so Quentin took it to a “snakeologist named Schmid” (who, according to other sources, was the owner of a pet shop) to see if the snakes could be perked up a bit. The story goes that Quentin was so depressed about having to be parted from his snakes for even a short time that Schmid gave him a King snake and two smaller snakes, at which point Quentin excitedly roller skated back home and into the meeting between Roosevelt and the Attorney General to show them off. Another telling
Roosevelt calmly separated the 3-4 foot long king snake from one of the smaller snakes – which it was attempting to consume – and sent Quentin off to entertain four Congressmen who were waiting their turn to talk to the President. All four had quite a start when they realized that the snakes Quentin was carrying were real! When the king snake wound its way up Quentin’s sleeve, the congressmen were hesitant to help, but in the end did muster up the courage to approach and help Quentin remove his jacket so that the snake could get free.
The eventual fate of the snakes is not known, but one hopes that Quentin was able to keep his eye on them. If anything, to spare the White House staff from some unexpected surprises!