All the Pets President Theodore Roosevelt Had in the White House


Liz Wilbur, Writer

Our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, began his Presidency in 1901, along with six children and more animals than the White House had ever seen. Usually, the president has a couple dogs and maybe some cats but, President Roosevelt took that to the next level.


There was many furry friend dogs, including the president’s favorite: a bull terrier named Pete “who sank his teeth into so many legs that he had to be exiled to the Roosevelt home in Long Island,” according to the National Park Service (NPS). There was also, Sailor Boy the Chesapeake retriever, Rollo the Saint Bernard, Jack the terrier, Skip the mongrel and a small black Pekingese named Manchu that could supposedly dance on its hind legs.


The Roosevelt children had a sorrel Shetland pony named General Grant, after the former president Ulysses S. Grant. Young Archie Roosevelt was given a calico Shetland pony named Algonquin. Once, when Archie was recovering in bed from being sick with the measles, he begged to be allowed to see his favorite pony, but was told he was too weak and sick to visit the stables. So, the pony was led into the White House elevator and up to the second floor. The pony trotted into the boy’s room, excited to see his favorite little boy. Roosevelt’s stable  also included Bleistein, Grey Dawn, Jocko Root, Renown, Roswell, Rusty, Wyoming, and Yagenka.


Theodore Roosevelt had two cats, six-toed Slippers and Tom Quartz (named after the cat in Roughing It by Mark Twain).  Slippers had a habit of falling asleep while sprawled out in hallways.  At one state banquet, guests even had to walk around her as they made their way to the dining room.


At age 5, little Quentin Roosevelt was presented with two white rabbits, which he called “the valuablest kind with pink eyes.” Archie Roosevelt was also the owner of a rabbit, named Peter. The family made sure Peter was given a proper burial after he passed away. “Archie, in his overalls, dragged the wagon… in which poor Peter Rabbit lay. Mother walked behind as chief mourner, she and Archie solemnly exchanging tributes to the worth and good qualities of the departed. Then he was buried, with a fuchsia over the little grave.”


Alice Roosevelt, the president’s oldest child, had a pet snake named Emily Spinach (“because it was as green as spinach and as thin as my Aunt Emily,” according to NPS). Quentin, the president’s youngest son, also had four snakes — but only for a short time. NPS shares the reason why:

The Roosevelts had at least five guinea pigs, which Theodore Roosevelt liked because “their highly unemotional nature fits them for companionship with adoring but over-enthusiastic young masters and mistresses,” he once said. There names were: Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bob Evans, Bishop Doan and Father O’Grady. The Roosevelt family also had two kangaroo rats, a flying squirrel, and Jonathan, a piebald rat. President Theodore Roosevelt also described the rodents as being “of most friendly and affectionate nature.”
There was a lot of different birds in the white house including, Eli Yale, a Hyacinth macaw, belonged to Quentin Roosevelt. Theodore is said to have commented that the bright blue bird, which lived in the White House greenhouse, “looked as if he came out of ‘Alice in Wonderland.'”  There was also two parrots, a barn owl, a one-legged rooster and a hen rounded out the feathered friends.
Other Crazy Wild Animals:
At age 9, Archie Roosevelt was granted a pet badger named Josiah, “whose temper was short but whose nature was fundamentally friendly.” Achie would carry him about, holding him in his arms, “clasped firmly around what would have been his waist.” When it was suggested by his father that the badger might take advantage of his situation to bite his face, Archie, seeing this as an “unworthy assault on the character of Josiah,” replied: “He bites legs sometimes, but he never bites faces.”
As if all that weren’t enough, the Roosevelts also had five bears, a lion, a hyena, a wildcat, a coyote, a zebra, a lizard, a pig and a raccoon.