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The most popular pets around the world

by Daniel Bettridge

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From fur babies to freshwater fish via lizards, budgies and, of course, man’s best friend — we humans, it seems, can’t help but open our homes up to animals. We are, naturally, talking about pets, the domesticated critters that have shared our homes for millennia. But how do pet populations differ across the globe and just what are the most popular animals to own in countries like Japan, Australia, Canada and the USA? Read on to find out…

Fish — France

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It turns out that the French love fish more than almost any other country on the planet. Indeed, the European nation is home to 37,300,000 of the aquatic pets, the second-most in the entire world behind the USA. That’s a lot of fish tanks!

Cats — Russia

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Given its population, the USA understandably leads the charts when it comes to pet ownership. But one area where the superpower is at risk of losing its grip is cats. Indeed, Russia is one of the most feline-friendly places on the planet, with one survey suggesting that a whopping 59% of the population are cat owners.

Beetles — Japan

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They may not be cute or cuddly, but beetles are still a big deal in Japan. Large horned beetles such as the rhinoceros beetle are particular favourites with children who either catch them in the wild or buy them from their local pet store.

Dogs — USA

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The USA is home to more pets than anywhere else on the planet, but by far the most popular companion for households is the humble pooch. Yes, it seems America is a nation of dog lovers, with almost 70 million mutts housed from coast to coast. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that dogs are big business for the American economy, with owners said to spend more than $50 billion on their four-legged friends each year.

Freshwater fish — USA

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While traditional animals like dogs and cats are perennially popular in the USA, the highest pet population in the country belongs to freshwater fish. According to recent statistics, there are around 171.7 million of them being kept as pets, with experts attributing their popularity to how easy it is to care for them.

Crickets — China

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China has a long history of cherishing insects. In fact, the tradition of keeping them as pets dates back thousands of years, with the critters prized for their voices, their fighting abilities or simply their cuteness. Today insect ownership is booming in China, where crickets are a particularly favourite pet, with their owners often housing them in ever-more elaborate cages.

Dogs — China

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Outside of the traditional insect owners, other types of pets are also growing in popularity in China. Today the country is the world’s fastest-growing nation of pet owners, with the adoption of animals into homes exploding since the turn of the century. Indeed, experts suggest that China could soon surpass the USA as the world’s biggest pet owners, with dogs one of the most popular pets in the entire country.

Birds — Australia

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Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with about 62% of households owning animals of some kind. Beyond common pets like cats, dogs and fish, birds account for the largest proportion of the country’s 24 million domestic animals, with a winged population of more than 4.2 million.

Alpaca — Peru

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These adorable animals have been domesticated in South America for thousands of years. Prized for their woolly coats, the animals are also popular pets in countries such as Peru.

Pigeons — Egypt

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While they are much maligned across much of the world, in the Middle East pigeons are prized as pets rather than pests. Indeed, in countries like Egypt, pigeons are extremely valuable, and are often kept in the hundreds to be raced or bred.

Reptiles — Italy

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Italy — a country that conjures up images of ancient history, incredible art, amazing food and pet reptiles, apparently. Yes, strange as it may seem, Italy boasts the largest population of pet reptiles in all of Europe, with more than 1.3 million of the cold-blooded critters calling the country home according to a recent survey.

Dogs — India

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Man’s best friend is booming in popularity in India right now; in fact, Indian households are falling in love with hounds at record rates. Dog ownership has been traditionally low in the world’s second-most populous country, but the number of pet pups is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, with a 58% increase between 2007 and 2012 according to one researcher.

Guinea pigs — India

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Dogs have long been the most popular pet in India, but man’s four-legged friend is getting some stiff competition from the humble Guinea pig. These South American critters are growing in popularity in India where their small stature and relatively short lifespan make them ideal household companions.

Horses — Mexico

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Okay, so they’re arguably not a pet in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t stop equine-obsessed people from across the globe from owning horses. While the U.S. has the highest population of pet ponies on the planet, the country’s near neighbours Mexico aren’t far behind with an estimated population of more than 6.35 million horses.

Rabbits — UK

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Almost half of the country’s population own a pet of some kind, and alongside traditional household pets like cats and dogs, rabbits have been steadily growing in popularity in the UK over recent years. In fact, the floppy-eared fur babies come in third in terms of ownership figures, with more than one million of the adorable animals calling the country home.

Cats, dogs and fish — New Zealand

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This trio of popular pets in New Zealand is hardly surprising, but what might shock you about animal lovers in the Southern Hemisphere is just how many of them there actually are. Indeed, Kiwis own more pets per household than anywhere else in the world, apart from the United States. Some 64% of households are home to pets, which number more than 4.6 million. That means there are likely more pets in the country than people!

Small dogs — Brazil

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There are countries across the world that boast more pooches per capita, but it seems that nowhere on the planet is home to more small dogs than Brazil. The country has long had a tradition of dog ownership but it seems that the rapidly urbanizing middle class is leading to a surge in smaller breeds to fit in with apartment living. Indeed, there are nearly 36 million hounds that call Brazil home (that’s more than Canada has people), with more than half (55%) of those weighing less than 20 lbs.

Birds — Brazil

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Brazil is a nation of pet lovers. But aside from dogs, cats or something else from the furry end of the pet spectrum, Brazilians, it seems, also love birds. Indeed, the country has more pet birds than anywhere else on the planet, dwarfing ownership in countries like the USA, Australia and the UK.

Cats — Canada

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Canada, it seems, is a nation of cat lovers, with ownership of felines outpacing pooches over recent years. According to statistics, there are 7.9 million cats in Canada compared to 5.9 million dogs, with a total of 56% of the population playing home to at least one of the popular pets.

Fish — Turkey

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Outside of China and the USA, Turkey is one of the biggest fans of fish on the planet. According to research, 16% of the population own the aquatic animals, which means that they are probably one of the world’s biggest buyers of underwater ornaments too.

Dogs (but not many) — South Korea

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Though dogs are the most popular pet by far, with South Korean families laying claim to more than 4.5 million pooches, the country’s pet ownership is tiny compared with the rest of the globe. In fact, despite rising figures South Korea is still one of the smallest nations of pet lovers, with just 31% of households home to an animal of some kind.

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