There are 9,400,000 reptiles are pets in U.S. households. Here are some otherunexpected numbers. The most popular pet? Fish! Close to 160 millionindividual finny friends swim in 14.5 million homes, and the aquarium industryis worth $300 million per year. Profitable but also the source of much animalcruelty, between the often deadly capture of more than 20 million wild fishannually and the high death rate of fish in homes (a vicious cycle, despitethe likely outcome it’s common to buy more and more relatively inexpensive“replacements”). Pet birds, from diminutive captive bred finches to large andoften still smuggled parrots, share 5 million U.S. households. While there’sno reliable information about how many large, hairy spiders are kept as pets,the number of websites dedicated to selling and keeping tarantulas and othersdid surprise me (also a surprise, studies indicate that at any moment there’sa spider standing within 15 feet of you, which means the 8-legged pets have awhole lot of wild competition).
Back to what most of us think of as pets, dogs are not getting smaller butsmaller dogs are now the most popular, with more than half under 25 pounds. Onaverage, dog households contain 1.6 dogs and cat household contain 2.1 cats(on average, of course, because fractional dogs and cats are not a realthing). While a higher percentage of Baby Boomers and those just a bit youngerown pets, since there are more Millennials out there they now constitute thelargest number of pet owners and 44% of Millennials see their pets as “starterchildren”. If you’ve not yet heard the term “fur baby” you will, since theadvertising industry now notes “the fur baby economy is real.” I’ve neverliked the increasingly popular term “fur baby.” Why not flip it and referencetiny, squalling humans as “bald pets” instead?
_By Ken White, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA President _
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