Vinny Guadagnino does pretty well with the ladies on the on "Jersey Shore," but the reality star spent more time chasing furry creatures than girls growing up on New York's Staten Island.
As he explains on this week's episode of "When I Was 17," Vinny was a regular Dr. Doolittle.
"I've always been into animals, like, my whole life," he says in the episode, which airs Saturday at 11 a.m. ET and features fellow "Jersey Shore" stars and sometimes-couple Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola. "I've had like a million animals since I was 17. I had snakes, ferrets, and cats and dogs. I remember I had a hedgehog."
His Uncle Angelo says that visiting his nephew was like going to a kind of residential zoo. "It's easier to say what pets didn't he have, 'cause he was into every kind of pet you can imagine," he explains.
Vinny's mom, Paula, adds that the Guadagnino household might as well have been the neighborhood's official zoo.
"He used to say, 'You guys should really think about charging admission instead of going to the zoo.' He had a lot of pets," she recalls. And her son was particularly close to one of his pets, according to Paula. "I never knew how someone could get so attached to a shark."
Vinny cops to being something of a shark whisperer in his teen years. "When I was 17, I had a shark, a real-deal shark in a 55-gallon saltwater tank," he reveals. "I was so corny. I would get my webcam, and I used to put the webcam into the tank. I used to play 'Jaws' and feed the shark goldfish, live goldfish, while I was playing 'Jaws.' ... It was pretty cool, nonetheless, not gonna lie."
His friends definitely found it amusing. "This shark was like his light. He'd talk to it for hours," says Vinny's buddy Zani.
"When I Was 17" — this week featuring "Jersey Shore" stars Vinny, Ronnie and Sammi — premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. on MTV