Small pet market rebounding after recession, report says

ROCKVILLE, Md. — For most Americans who own pets, that word refers to the kinds with four legs and a predilection for purring or tail wagging. But more than 100 million Americans also own pets other than cats and dogs, representing a significant share of the market, according to a new report.

Market research firm Packaged Facts said in the report, Pet Population and Pet Owner Trends in the U.S., that there are 116 million fish, birds, small mammals, reptiles and other such pets, including 7.2 million households with fish tanks, 4.6 million with bird cages and 1.8 million with reptiles, while 2.5 million adults own rabbits. Nearly 80 million dogs and more than 86 million cats live in U.S. households, according to the Humane Society.

Owners of noncanine and nonfeline pets groom and board their birds, buy toys and medications for reptiles, take rodents to the vet and decorate fish tanks in addition to buying food, according to Packaged Facts, which also said that owners of fish, birds and small animals were rebounding after the recession.

Parents and children play a significant role in the market, with the report showing that owners of small animals were much more likely to have children in their households. Nearly 90% of households with hamsters have children, and 87% of those have children younger than 12 years. About 60% of households with fish, rabbits and reptiles have children younger than 18 years.