Ask just about any pet owner, and they’ll tell you that they consider their precious Spot or Princess as any other member of their family. Some like their furry friends to be by their sides night and day—even literally! At least, that’s the case for those who allow their pets to sleep in their beds.

Usually, sleeping with your pet isn’t a problem, especially when it comes to common domesticated animals like cats and dogs. People with more exotic pets, however, may want to think twice before inviting them to share their sheets, or they could end up like this one woman…

It’s not uncommon for the dog and cat owners of the world to spend every possible moment with their furry friends. Yet that’s not always so easy for anyone whose pet isn’t conventionally cuddly.

Obviously, the owners of animals that are more exotic don’t always get to enjoy that privilege. For many reptile lovers, for instance, spending every minute of every day alongside their beloved pet just isn’t possible.

Sure, their pets might like to hang out, but most of them still need to spend the majority of their time in a tank and under a heat lamp. One woman who owned a pet python, however, was determined to spend as much time with her snake as possible—and it nearly cost her!

For starters, this woman would frequently allow her snake to lie across her body. Yep, that meant from her head right down to her toes! That’s more than enough to make most people shake in their boots…

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However, the snake never once attempted to harm his owner. From the woman’s perspective, this was because they had a special relationship. She’d been consistently caring for him since he was a baby, after all. They were pals!

LucysLittleCritters / YouTube

It’s true that maintaining a positive and caring relationship with your pet is one of the main ways to build trust. When animals recognize that these people provide so much for them, they’re more likely to reciprocate the positive relationship. Still, there’s a difference between reptiles and, say, dogs.

Unfortunately, this woman discovered that firsthand. It all started when, one day, she noticed something alarming: her pet python had suddenly stopped eating for no apparent reason. What was the problem? Was he sick?

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Growing concerned by this unexpected change in her beloved python’s behavior, the woman decided to bring him to the veterinarian as soon as she could. She was determined to figure out what was wrong with him.

The veterinarian asked the woman a series of questions about the python’s unusual behavior. At that point, the woman admitted that her relationship with the snake wasn’t just a close one: in fact, she actually slept alongside her snake each and every night!

After learning that information, the veterinarian quickly realized the problem. While it would’ve never occurred to the woman what was going on, the doctor’s answer was surprisingly (and frighteningly) simple…

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After considering what the woman told her about her pet python’s behavior, the veterinarian delivered some shocking news: the snake was not sick. In fact, he’d intentionally stopped eating. And he had a terrifying reason for doing so…

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The python stopped eating because he was preparing to consume a large meal. Snakes do, after all, eat food that’s larger than them—and their ability to unhinge their jaws makes that all the easier.

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In fact, it’s not uncommon for a snake to attempt to eat cattle or other large wildlife, including other snakes. Snakes can also go a long time without eating. When they eat that much at a time, they need to make room. So, what was the large meal that this woman’s python planned to eat?

The woman was in complete shock when the veterinarian relayed her theory: her beloved python might just have been preparing to eat her while she slept! She absolutely had to stop sleeping next to her snake… or else she wouldn’t live to see another day.

Still in shock, the woman returned home with her pet python. She smartly decided that he would finally need to start spending his nights alone in his tightly sealed terrarium—far away from her bedroom.

David Danihel DDREPTILES / YouTube

If this woman wanted to cuddle with her pet, she probably should’ve considered getting a dog. While pythons are fascinating creatures, they’re definitely dangerous—for children and adults alike!

Sure, it’s perfectly fine to own a snake—they’re great and wonderful pets to countless people across the globe! Yet, you might want to think twice before you start asking yours to share your bed…

Ten-year-old Aidan Pankey loved animals all his life. Ever since he could remember, he wanted one to call his own. That’s why he was over the moon when his grandmother presented him with an unexpected gift…

While his grandmother was walking down the aisles of Petco one afternoon, she came across an animal she felt Aidan would absolutely love. She immediately made the purchase and brought it home to him.

It was a pet rat! Aidan’s grandmother bought the little guy knowing her grandson would just adore the friendly rodent. The surprise left Aidan overjoyed, and he immediately named the rat “Alex.”

Aidan and Alex were instantly inseparable. Aidan made sure to take exceptionally good care of his new friend, and he treated him like a new member of the family. They did everything together, too.

Wherever Aidan went, his trusty new pal followed right along. Aidan’s grandmother seemed to know exactly which rat to buy, too. Alex was incredibly friendly and seemed to enjoy all the activities he and Aidan did.

Aidan even took Alex along with him when he went swimming! They became the best of friends right off the bat, and Aidan’s parents and grandmother couldn’t have been happier with the new addition to their family. Plus, Aidan wasn’t the only family member to embrace Alex…

The rest of Aidan’s family loved Alex just about as much as Aidan did. Just take a look at this picture of Aidan with his father and grandfather. Alex was having a great time hanging out on Grandpa’s shoulder!

For the two weeks, the boy was nothing but smiles from morning to night. A pet like Alex was exactly what he needed in his life. However, Aidan’s family would soon realize just how dangerous this new pal actually was…

Two weeks after Aidan’s grandmother purchased Alex from Petco, Aidan fell sick. He had an upset stomach, fever, and chills. His parents took him to the doctor, where he was diagnosed with the flu. He was sent home with orders to drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.

Even though Aidan followed the doctor’s orders, his fever rapidly grew worse throughout the night. His parents eventually rushed him to the hospital—but it was too late. Tragically, Aidan passed away shortly after arriving. What had happened to this bright-eyed boy?

As it turned out, Aidan didn’t actually have the flu at all. The boy was suffering from rat-bite fever, which he contracted from his new pet. Rat-bite fever is characterized by severe, flu-like symptoms, and it can be passed to humans through scratches or bites. In rare cases, like Aidan’s, it’s deadly.

The incident with Aidan garnered a lot of media attention. His parents decided to sue Petco—which they believed to be responsible for Aidan’s death—for $20 million in damages. Petco, however, was ready for the case.

 In a massive court case, the Pankeys’ lawyer (left) argued Petco was negligent and sold them a diseased rat. However, Petco’s lawyer (right) claimed the family was made well aware of the dangers the rat might pose before the purchase.

According to the store, anyone who buys a rat must sign a waiver acknowledging they understand it could possibly be infected with rat-bite fever. Aidan’s grandmother put her signature on the document, which meant she legally accepted the risks.

Unfortunately, the court eventually sided with Petco. The jury determined the family was well-enough informed of the dangers Alex potentially posed, and Petco was found to be not at fault for his death. The Pankey family was, understandably, devastated.

No parent should ever have to bury their child, and Aidan’s parents had to say goodbye to their son before he ever got to fully experience the wonderful life that was ahead. Aidan’s family would never forget how happy their son was for those two weeks prior to his passing.

Anyone thinking about welcoming a rodent into their homes—even one purchased at a reputable pet store—should consider the decision carefully. Rat-bite fever may be rare, but this unfortunate story is a reminder that many risks are simply not worth taking.

Aidan Pankey would always be remembered for his enthusiasm and fun-loving spirit. What happened to him after he adopted his pet rat, Alex, was completely an accident, but heartbreaking all the same.