Sometimes, the oddest creatures (according to our standards) became the pets of ancient Egyptians. They didn’t keep what we considered a “normal” feathered companion, but they chose a creature that was associated with a deity. In this article, you will encounter interesting facts regarding pets and wildlife from ancient Egyptian days.
The Goose in Egyptian Culture
Interestingly, it was not a parakeet or parrot that was the popular feathered friend of the ancient Egyptians. The Nile goose was often given the run of the house and the garden , even though it was a creature known for having a bad temper. The goose was viewed as the sacred animal of Geb , a god who was given the nickname of “The Great Cackler.” This deity would take the form of a goose. Around Egypt, there were sacred lakes that served as home to the sacred geese, which were well taken cared of.
Depending on who you were in Egypt, having an exotic pet was not uncommon. For example, wild beasts could be found in various households or belong to members of royalty. Ramses II kept a tame lion and in some homes, the house cat was replaced with Sudanese cheetahs in some cases.
Wildlife in Egyptian Culture
In the wild, animals familiar to some of today’s creatures surrounded the ancient Egyptians. The people came across many typical African animals, such as the lion, cheetah, wolf, antelope, wild bull, hyena, snake, jackal, the mongoose, and desert hares. In the waters of the Nile, crocodiles, turtles, hippos, frogs, and many different fish and water birds were found. During ancient times, the Egyptians contended with the buzzing, crawling, and flying of insects, such as bees, scarab beetles, locusts, flies, centipedes and scorpions.
Many different wild animals have been of importance to the Egyptians, and played a significant role in representing royalty. The lion, wild cattle, and the cobra were some of the most worshipped of animals. The characteristics of animals, such as the lion and wild bull, were often linked to the pharaoh. Even in Predynastic times, images of the bull were seen trampling on the enemies of the king. These were created to highlight the victories won by the pharaoh. The bull was an animal connected to power and strength.
Bees were important to the Egyptians because of the honey and wax they produced. The insects were kept in woven wicker hives that have been covered in clay. Lower Egypt served as the main center for bee keeping. The bee served as one of the symbols for that part of the country. Honey was used in making food and giving offerings to the gods. The substance also played a role in creating cosmetics and medicine, where it had an antibacterial effect. The wax helped in building boats, mummification, and paints. Not only were bees domesticated, but the Egyptians also went out and hunted for the honey of wild bees.