Red Bricks (Brickus vermillius) are found around the world. Their association with humans is a long one, for bricks have been found in archaeological sites from the very ancient to the modern. The vast majority of bricks are working bricks, used mainly in construction of human houses and other buildings. A tiny minority of bricks, however, are unfortunately kept for human consumption, a use that is thankfully dwindling under the force of anti-brick-cruelty laws.
Many wild varieties are also known. These wild bricks are more commonly called "rocks." Over the past several decades "pet rocks" have become popular, but as this requires removing a wild rock from its natural habitat this is discouraged.
Some examples of archaeological bricks...
A dig at ancient Niai Buthi in southern Pakistan uncovered some beautiful rounded bricks that date from the third millenium B.C.
A recent archaeological dig at the Harmony Brick Works in Leetsdale, PA. These domestic bricks date to the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth century.
There are hundreds of species of bricks in existence around the world, both wild and domestic. These range from the humble Red Brick as seen in this San Francisco Street to these Latvian cobblestones.
However, it is only in recent times that bricks have been recognized for their potential as pets.
Bricks make excellent pets. They are extremely cheap, make no noise and consume very little food. They are very common, so no wild populations are depleted for the pet trade. Their housing requirements are limited. They have no fur and hence do not cause allergies. They do not bite or scratch, though they can stub toes. They are very hardy, suffering from few fatal illnesses, and are extremely long lived. In fact, some bricks may outlive their owners, so you should plan to make provision for your brick in your will.
The vast majority of bricks available for the brick pet trade are the familiar rectangular red bricks. However, if you look closely, there are a number of varieties of fancy brick, many of which you would probably not encounter in your local brick store. A popular variety is the Giant Flower Red Brick, believed to be available in the UK, though the waiting list is said to be very long. The Scalloped Brick is another up-and-coming variety. Most bricks are red or sometimes grey in color, but a few new colors have recently appeared in breeding lines, including these blue and yellow bricks. Some cutting edge fancy bricks have an artsy beauty all their own, such as this fine specimen of Art Garden Brick bred by the artist Anne McLellan.
New young bricks can be purchased from a local brick store (known euphemistically as a "hardware store") for less than a dollar apiece. However, very few brick stores treat their bricks well, callously leaving them outside in crowded stacks under sun and rain. These bricks tend to have health problems, in the form of chips and cracks. We do not encourage rescuing a brick from such a source, as this will only encourage the store owner to order more from its local "brick mill."
Brick breeders are as yet a rarity, but if you are lucky you may find a good breeder near you. A few fancy brick varieties are available from such breeders.
We encourage adopting. There are many abandoned bricks that desperately need homes, and brick rescue organizations are swamped, as more bricks are abandoned than can be fostered effectively. Contact your local SPCB (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bricks) to see if they have any bricks available for adoption. Alternatively, search in fields and abandoned buildings, and you may find a timid, feral brick among the weeds. With proper socialization, these bricks can be turned into excellent pets.
When choosing a brick, look for a healthy, friendly brick. Healthy bricks are a uniform red in color, with no splotches or stains. Their edges are sharp and crisp, not worn or chipped. They should not have any cracks. Friendy bricks will allow you to pet them. A friendly brick will also approach you willingly if you place it on the far end of a board and have someone lift the further edge. An unfriendly brick will tumble off to the side on the way down.
Once you have chosen your new brickie companion, bring it home. It is important to quarantine your pet brick away from any other bricks you may have to avoid passing any hidden illnesses. A pre-prepared ten gallon aquarium, fitted with appropriate litter, water, and food, is quite suitable for the few weeks your brick will be in quarantine.
Bricks are easy to introduce to other bricks. Make sure to introduce only bricks of the same sex, or you'll end up with briquettes. Dab them with vanilla to mask their scent, then put them together in a neutral area. If no fighting starts, your bricks are safely introduced and can be kept together. Here's a pair of happily introduced bricks, a common red brick (Brickus vermillius) and its larger cousin, the cement block (Brickus cinereous).
Introducing your new pet brick to other pets, such as rats, can be a bit more challenging, especially as the quicker pets may intimidate the brick. Thankfully, however, such encounters rarely harm the brick. Dab the brick and the nose of the rat with vanilla extract to mask their scent, and introduce them in a neutral area. They may investigate each other (note vanilla dabbed on brick in photo), and climb on each other. This is all normal. Keep a close eye on them to make sure no fights start up.
If the introduction is successful, you may keep your brick in the same cage as your rats. Here's a happy brick in a hammock, hanging out with his rat buddy Cricket.
Cage and diet
Bricks are easy to care for. They can live alone or in groups, or with other pets after a successful introduction. They can live in a cage or aquarium. They require very little space, and unlike more active pets are quite happy in a small cage. The most balanced diet for a brick is lab blocks (the squarer the better), but they don't require very many of these. Provide them with fresh water at all times. Bricks don't require many toys, but they may enjoy an occasional spin in a wheel.
Handling bricks is easy: pick up the brick firmly with one hand, and slide the other hand under it so it feels secure. Under no circumstances should a brick be picked up by a corner. Bricks are heavy and such a grip is insecure.
Some bricks, especially poorly socialized bricks, adopted feral bricks, and rescues, may be very shy. To tame these bricks, we recommend the "forced socialization method." Make an effort to hold the brick for twenty minutes a day (no cheating!). Carry it around with you, pet it, talk to it, interact with it. After several weeks, you should start to see a difference.
Common Health Problems
By far the most common health problem in bricks is breaking, chipping, or cracking when dropped on a hard surface. Never, ever drop your brick, or you could permanently harm it. Bricks are inherently brittle, though some breeders are diligently trying to breed for a stronger type. If your brick breaks, gather up all the pieces and take it immediately to an experienced brick vet. If the chip is small, the vet may be able to stick the piece back on. However, more serious breaks are often fatal.
Lichen is another common sight, especially on very old bricks. Lichens can sometimes be removed by careful prolonged scraping. However, some owners find their brick's lichens to be attractive and unique (as well as a useful way to tell bricks apart). As lichens do not actually harm the brick, leaving the lichen on the brick is a matter of personal preference.
Mineral deposits are common in bricks, especially those rescued from the outdoors. You may be able to dissolve these minerals with special chemicals. These chemicals are only available by prescription, so visit your local brick vet to clear up any mineral deposits.
Bricks also have a tendency to absorb water and other liquids. This can make the brick smell and gain weight. If your brick is absorbing water, you may wish to consider a sealant. This is a delicate procedure that should only be done under the supervision of a brick vet.