CHENNAI: Dogs and cats have become the most preferred pets today. But not for Sethu Raman, a final year BDS student. The animal enthusiast from Madurai had a love for animals and birds from childhood. “I had birds and goats as pets when I was in class eight. If I liked a bird or animal, I would buy it,” he says. Sethu now owns over 20 cockatiels, 20 parrots, five goats, four turkeys and ten chicks. Talking about his memories of being in Chennai, he shares that his cousins in the city — whom he visits often — own birds. “I make it a point to visit them and spend time with the birds. We share the same interests,” Sethu says.
What was his first pet? “A pigeon!” he exclaims. Sethu says that he used to own around 70 pigeons. “Due to some superstitious reason, my parents didn’t allow me to keep pigeons at home. But someone stole them so I couldn’t do anything,” he says, sharing that his family has otherwise been supportive. “The birds have their own room, and the goats have a huge space in our rice mill,” he says. Sethu shares that it is important to buy birds in pairs. He says that a pair costs him around Rs 3,000.
Talking about his expenditure on vaccinations, maintenance and medication, he says that it costs him only Rs 200 to Rs 300 a month for maintenance. The cost for medication varies depending on the need. “I get Rs 200 as my weekly pocket money. I use this for the maintenance of my pets. I don’t spend it on myself,” he says, adding that climatic changes and rain water are the main reasons why birds fall sick. “Birds need to be put in place where they are comfortable. Plants should be a part of their habitat,” he emphasises.
How does he manage to study despite taking care of so many pets? “I don’t find it difficult at all. I spend time with them in the morning — giving them food and water. I clean the cage every weekend. Whenever I am free, I spend time with them,” he shares.
Sethu also has 800 fish and 60 snails in his rice mill. “I have around 20 breeds of fish and 60 golden snails in four large concrete tanks at the rice mill,” he says, adding that the snails eat algae and don’t need to be fed. “The tank is cleaned once in six months,” he says. Sethu’s aim is “to have a beautiful and pleasant house full of birds.” He says, “Owners should be responsible and must care for their pets — whether birds, fish, goats or dogs — like they are babies.