The 10 Most Popular Pets to Own

There are billions of pets worldwide. This article discusses the most popular pets and what we love about them.

Mar 14, 2023By Heather Jarek, BA Veterinary Technology

Animals have been kept as pets for centuries. There was no exact day in history when the first animal was domesticated, but archeologists believe dogs were kept as pets between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago! Since then, there has been a steady increase in pet ownership. From pocket pets to poultry, the human-animal bond has continued to evolve. As the list of different types of pets continues to grow, some remain more popular than others.

10. Ferrets

ferret cute

This intelligent pet is part of the weasel family and is a descendant of the European polecat. This creature was bred to hunt rabbits and rodents. In earlier times, as far back as the Middle Ages, they were used to scare away rodents from stores and dining halls.

A ferret is a highly sociable pet that needs daily interaction with humans or another ferret. They are very active and playful, so they must have plenty of space to run and explore. They have a distinct musky odor (especially unneutered males) but should only be bathed occasionally, as overbathing will worsen this odor.

Ferrets are carnivores and require meat in their diets. The recommended diet is whole prey, including mice and rats, but commercial ferret food is available for more squeamish pet owners.

A ferret can be a lovely companion if you have plenty of space and don’t mind a constant musky odor. Their playful demeanor will provide hours of entertainment and companionship.

9. Guinea Pigs

brown white guinea pig

You may recognize this adorable rodent from your local pet store. Guinea pigs were domesticated in 5,000 BC to be used as livestock for meat purposes in South America. During the 16th century, they were brought to Europe and North America, where they became enjoyed as pets rather than food.

Guinea pigs are highly social animals and live in large herds in the wild. They are happiest when housed with one or more companions. Newly introduced males may fight, so it’s essential to monitor them closely when adding a new cage mate. It’s best to house a neutered male with one or more females.

Guinea pigs are herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of hay. They require an outside source of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables or commercial supplements.

A Guinea pig makes a great starter pet. They are relatively easy to care for and, although skittish, do enjoy human interaction.

8. Hamsters

hamster eating strawberry

The hamster is another common pocket pet found in thousands of households worldwide. There are 20 different breeds of hamsters, but only a few breeds have been successfully domesticated as pets. The most common pet hamster species are the Dwarf Roborovski, Campbell’s Dwarf Russian, and Syrian, also known as the golden or teddy bear hamster. Each species of hamster has different husbandry requirements, so it’s essential to research each before adding one to the family.

Overall, hamsters make wonderful and quiet pets. They can bond with their owners and rarely show aggression towards people. This makes them great pets for children. Their enclosures don’t take up much space, and they are clean and tidy animals.

7. Poultry

pet chicken hug

Backyard chickens have increased in popularity over the years. They not only provide a unique companionship, but they provide their owners with farm-fresh eggs! They are easy to care for and don’t require much human interaction but are happiest when living in a flock with other chickens.

There are over one hundred different breeds of chicken, and the American Poultry Association officially recognizes 50 of the large breeds. There are also many breeds of bantam chickens, which are smaller species of chicken. Some chickens are bred for egg-laying, while others are considered meat birds. Certain species lay unique colored eggs, such as the Easter Egger, which lays blue eggs.

Chickens don’t require much space. Three square feet per bird is required for coop space. Ideally, they should have access to an outdoor run. Predator-proofing the coop and run is essential to keep your flock safe and can be the most challenging aspect of keeping chickens.

Before acquiring chickens, check with your town to ensure it’s legal to keep poultry in your neighborhood.

6. Rabbits

baby rabbit hiding

Rabbits started to become popular household pets in the 1980s. However, they were domesticated as far back as the 1st century BC when the Romans used them for fur and food. There are many breeds of rabbits, each a different size, color, and shape. The Netherland Dwarf rabbit weighs 2-8 pounds, while the Flemish Giant can be over 13 pounds! Each different breed has its unique personality and special requirements.

Like Guinea pigs, a rabbit’s diet consists mainly of hay. They also require fresh fruits and vegetables. Commercial foods and pelleted diets are available, but these are not recommended as the primary food source as they can cause obesity.

Although rabbits don’t need an overly large cage, they need at least a few hours a day of exercise. This can be accomplished by letting your rabbit free-range around your home or providing them with a large exercise pen. Be sure to rabbit-proof your house before letting your little friend run free. Rabbits love to chew!

5. Reptiles

bearded dragon reptile

There are thousands of different reptiles. The Bearded Dragon, Ball Python, and Leopard Gecko are the most common reptiles kept as pets. Reptiles are unique and intriguing and can make excellent pets, but it’s important to research them before purchasing one. These animals require specialized care, from temperature and humidity requirements to specialized lights and heating lamps.

Reptiles make an excellent choice of pet for those who don’t have much space or prefer a quieter animal. They are solitary creatures that don’t require much human interaction and prefer living alone. Some reptiles, like the Ball Python, can live for over 30 years, so make sure you are ready for a lengthy commitment before bringing a new reptile home.

4. Birds

pet lovebirds kissing

From hunters to messengers, birds have been an important part of human history. Canaries were even used in mines to detect coal gasses and carbon monoxide. Birds have been kept as pets since the ancient Egyptian era, nearly 4,000 years ago. There are hundreds of different types of pet birds, and they are all unique and require individualized care.

Parakeets are common birds found in pet stores that come in many colors. They are small birds that enjoy living in pairs, groups, or alone. They are relatively easy to care for and great for beginner bird owners. Parrots are much larger birds with complex personalities that require an experienced bird owner. It’s important to note that birds are not domesticated animals, so they do not enjoy prolonged human contact.

3. Fish

pet fish aquarium

Fish make it to the top 3 most popular pets because they are low maintenance. They don’t eat much, and their food is easy to find at your local pet store. They don’t require daily maintenance, making them excellent pets for those who work long hours or are always on the go. They also relieve stress by providing a calm and soothing source of entertainment.

There are many different species of fish. They range from small to large and come in all different shapes and colors. There are even fish that glow in the dark! When choosing fish for your aquarium, it’s important to note that certain fish species will fight and eat other species. Always research and consult your local fish expert when deciding which fish to add to your aquarium.

2. Cats

kitten smiling sleeping

Many associate the domestication of cats with the ancient Egyptian era. However, researchers have learned that cat domestication began around 12,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period. It is said that cats domesticated themselves by choosing humans as their companions, which enabled them to steal scraps from dining halls. As time went on, cats were used to protect food storages on ships by killing rodents, and this is how the domesticated cat reached all parts of the world.

Cats make excellent cuddly companions. When comparing cats to dogs, they require less maintenance but can offer the same type of companionship. They don’t need a large yard or hours of exercise, and most cats can happily live independently from their owners. They are intelligent, trainable, and offer an adorable source of entertainment.

1. Dogs

black puppy held

With over 400 million dogs kept as pets worldwide, the dog easily takes its place as the number one most popular pet. Their fierce loyalty to their owners makes them one-of-a-kind companions and has thus earned them the title of “man’s best friend.”

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors domesticated dogs from wolves during the ice age over 30,000 years ago. It is believed that the humans of that period would either feed or leave scraps of meat behind for the wolves, and over time, a bond and mutually beneficial relationship was built. The more docile wolves would breed with others of the same temperament, eventually losing their wolf characteristics and creating the dog.

Dogs serve many purposes to humans. Some dogs have been bred for protection, farm work, search and rescue, agility, and so on. Others have been bred for their looks or hypoallergenic coats. Some breeds are suited for certain types of lifestyles. A Belgian Malinois is an intelligent and hard-working dog that needs specific training to avoid unwanted behaviors. There are over 200 dog breeds, so take the time to research which breed would be the best fit for you.

Heather Jarek
By Heather JarekBA Veterinary Technology

Heather is a lover of all animals, big and small. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology in 2014. She has been working as a licensed veterinary technician for the last eight years. Her favorite hobby is horseback riding, and she has been riding horses since the age of eight. She enjoys spending time with her family at the lake with their golden retriever Calista in her free time.