In the last three years, the proportion of UK households owning a pet has increased by 5%. Now almost half of us (45%) own a pet, ranging from cats and dogs to more exotic pets such as lizards, turtles and snakes.
But what are Britain’s favourite pets? As part of our support for National Pet Month, we reveal the top ten most popular pets in the UK.
Around 0.4% of the UK population own a snake. Common breeds that are popular with beginners include corn snakes and king & milk snakes, while more experienced owners home royal pythons and garter snakes.
Research has found that more than half a million chickens are now kept as pets in the UK, with fowl increasing in popularity in recent years.
Jane Howorth MBE, founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust, says: “I’m not surprised that chickens are moving up the ranking of most popular pets in the UK, here at the charity we all know what wonderful pets our ex-commercial hens, in particular, make.
“Each has their own personality and charm; they are quite simply life-enhancing, and what other pet will lay eggs for your breakfast?!”
Lizards are often the first reptile that pet owners choose. They don’t carry the innate fear that snakes bring to certain people and they can make great display animals.
Common lizards kept as pets in the UK include bearded dragons, leopard geckos and blue-tongued skinks.
Tortoises and turtles can be a fascinating and fun pet, although they can be difficult to keep and require responsible ownership.
Keeping a turtle as a pet is a large undertaking as they can live for decades and they require very specific housing.
Research shows that 1% of us own a hamster. There are 24 different species of hamster, and among the most popular pets are the Syrian, the Russian dwarf Campbell and the Roborovski.
Guinea pigs are particularly popular with families.
They live for around four to eight years, so their care is a long-term commitment. They can live indoors or outdoors and thrive in same-sex groups or in pairs.
From small budgies up to the largest parrots, birds make entertaining, colourful and interesting pets that are very rewarding to keep. They are also delicate animals that need to be cared for carefully.
Some species of parrots can live for 60 years or longer, so owning a bird can be a long-term commitment.
Around 2% of Brits own a rabbit, and they are the country’s third most popular pet. The PDSA estimate that around 1.5 million rabbits are kept as pets in the UK.
Rabbits are highly intelligent, inquisitive animals and come in a variety of breeds, shapes and sizes. Each rabbit has their own unique personality, and they typically live for between 8 and 12 years.
There are an estimated 8 million cats in the UK, with 5 million households owning at least one cat. And, of those households that own a cat, 40% have more than one.
Cats come in all shapes and sizes, with British shorthairs, Bengals and Siamese cats amongst the most popular.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the UK’s favourite pet is the dog. More than a quarter of us (26%) own a dog, with an estimated 9 million dogs living in the UK.
As well as countless cross-breeds, the most common pure breed dogs in the UK are: Labrador retrievers, cocker spaniels, springer spaniels and German shepherds.