Reptiles, fish and pocket pets abound

Species other than cats and dogs are taking center stage in many homes across the U.S., and their owners are paying for food, medical care and other commodities and services to keep their pets happy and healthy. Some 15.6 million U.S. adults own fish, 10.4 million have birds and 2.5 million live with rabbits, according to a report from the research firm Packaged Facts. Altogether, there are a staggering 116 million such pets in U.S. homes. MediaPost Communications/Marketing Daily (1/15)


It’s not just dogs and cats who rule the roost. American pet owners live in  the company of 116 million fish, birds, small animals and reptiles, according to  a report from market research firm Packaged Facts.

While research into the human-animal bond tends to focus on the special  relationship between people and dogs that has evolved over thousands of years,  today’s pet owners do not limit their connection with animals to dogs or cats  alone. A wide range of other animals have found their way into the  households and affections of pet lovers, according to “Pet Population and Pet  Owner Trends in the U.S.”

Fish tanks can be found in 7.2 million households and bird cages in 4.6  million households. Reptiles are pets in 1.8 million households. Tens of  millions of adults, as well as their children, enjoy the companionship of  non-canines and non-felines. The report finds that 15.6 million adults  reside in households with fish and 10.4 million own birds and 2.5 million have  rabbits.

These pet owners represent big business for the pet industry. They groom  and board their birds, buy toys for their iguanas, purchase medications for  their turtles, take their gerbils to the vet and light and decorate their fish  tanks. Food is bought for all of the tens of millions of pets that are owned in  addition to cats and dogs.

A recurring theme of the report is the critical role that parents and  children play in this segment of the pet market. Compared to pet owners who  have cats and dogs exclusively, owners of fish, reptiles and small animals are  much more likely to have children under the age of 18 in their households (57%  vs. 34%).  Nearly 90% of households with hamsters have children, and 87% of  these have children under the age of 12. Around 60% of households with  fish, rabbits and reptiles have children under the age of 18.

The spending power of owners of pets other than cats and dogs has a  significant impact on the bottom line of marketers and retailers of pet products  and services, said David Sprinkle, the research director for Packaged  Facts.

After a noticeable recessionary slump, ownership of fish, birds and small  animals is on the rebound. Marketers can take advantage of an improving market  by leveraging the connection that consumers have with their pets, Sprinkle  says.

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