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exotic pets statistics

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Exotic Pets Statistics

Special Reports Team

By

Medically reviewed by

Veterinarians.org Staff

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exotic pets statistics

Exotic Pets Statistics

 

Exotic Pet Ownership

 

In 2016, 13.3% of households were estimated to have specialty or exotic pets, a 25.5% increase from 2011.

% of Households with Specialty/Exotic Pets % Change
2006 2011 2016 2006-2016 2011-2016
12.7% 10.6% 13.3% -16.50% +25.5%

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

In 2016, over 100 thousand households were reported to have specialty or exotic pets.

Number of Households with Specialty/Exotic Pets % Change
2006 2011 2016 2006-2016 2011-2016
102,944,000 84,642,000 106,735,377 -18% +26%

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

Of specialty and exotic pets owned in the US in 2016, most households had fish, reptiles, and other mammals.

Households

(in 1,000)

Population

(in 1,000)

Fish 10,475 76,323
Ferrets 326 501
Rabbits 1,534 2,244
Reptiles 3,669 6,032
Pet Livestock 494 1,786
Pet Poultry 1,397 15,367
Other Mammals 1,978 3,521
All Others 322 961

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

According to data from 2012, owners of fish, households with reptiles and small animals are much more likely to have children than dog and cat owning households. In households with hamsters, 90% have children and 87% of are under 12, while about 60% of households with fish, rabbits and reptiles have children.

(Packaged Facts)

 

 

Exotic Animal Trade

 

In 2009, businesses that sell, provide services for, and manufacture products for reptiles earned revenues of $1.0 billion to $1.4 billion. 

(Reptifiles)

 

 

The legal global wildlife trade is estimated at $300 billion per year, with the illegal trade estimated at $5-20 billion dollars.

(SpringerLink)

 

 

Almost a third of wildlife imports in the US were live animals. 

(SpringerLink)

 

 

Aquatic, amphibian, and invertebrate species compose 50% of recorded shipments and reptile, rodent, and bird species compose the majority of the remaining half of shipments. 

(SpringerLink)

 

 

Mammals accounted for 4% of the overall specimens imported, a total of 2,434,851 live specimens were recorded.

(SpringerLink)

 

 

Of live wildlife imports, 77.7% was reported to be live, 17.7% as captive, and 4.6% as ranched or other. 

(SpringerLink)

 

 

China and Southeast Asia provided the majority of aquatic, invertebrate, and herptofauna species. Canada and South Africa imported the most mammals.

(SpringerLink)

 

 

In 2014, 26,400 animals of 171 taxa were rescued from U.S. Global Exotics. 80% were identified as grossly sick, injured, or dead. 

(National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine)

 

 

Of the rescued animals, 12% of stock, mostly reptiles, were being discarded weekly. 

(National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine)

 

 

Overall, the 6-week mortality during was determined to be 72%. 

(National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine)

 

 

Mortality rates in the 10 days following rescue, including euthanasia, was 18% for invertebrates, 44.5% for amphibians, 41.6% for reptiles, and 5.5% for mammals. 

Listed causes of morbidity and mortality were: cannibalism, crushing, dehydration, emaciation, hypothermic stress, infection, parasite infestation, starvation, overcrowding, stress/injuries, euthanasia on compassionate grounds, and undetermined causes. Additional factors listed were: poor hygiene; inadequate, unreliable, or inappropriate provision of food, water, heat, and humidity; presumed high levels of stress due to inappropriate housing leading to intraspecific aggression; absent or minimal environmental enrichment; and crowding. Additional risks included potential for spread of invasive species and/or pathogens to local ecosystems.

(National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine)

 

 

“More than 1,000 Internet sites offer to sell, give care advice, and provide chat rooms where buyers and sellers can haggle over a price.”

(Born Free USA)

 

 

“The exotic pet trade pathway has already led to the establishment of several hundred non‐native and invasive vertebrate animal species globally, and is poised to contribute to the establishment of even more in the future”

(Ecological Society of America)

 

 

Of the 137 introduced amphibian and reptile taxa in Florida, 125 were connected to the pet trade pathway in a 2006 study.

(Magnolia Press – Zootaxa)

 

 

The aquarium trade has been implicated in 10 species invasions in the Great Lakes basin, 6% of documented invasions. Seven further species were identified by a 2005 study to be future threats.

(SpringerLink)

 

Exotic Pet Species

 

A study of visitors at UK herpetological events found that 3.6% of snakes, chelonians, and lizards were reported to die within a year of acquisition.

(National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine)

 

 

The coral reef wildlife trade has mortality rates ranging from under 5% to over 90% of animals collected from the wild.

(Defenders of Wildlife)

 

 

“Most, if not all, reptiles carry Salmonella bacteria in their intestinal tract and intermittently or continuously shed these bacteria in their feces. Salmonella bacteria usually do not cause any illness in reptiles, but can cause serious illness in people.”

(Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians)

 

 

It is estimated that reptile and amphibian exposure is associated with around 74,000 Salmonella infections annually in the U.S.

(National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine)

 

 

Specialty and exotic pet owners are reported to view their pets as:

Family Companion Property Under Our Care
Ferrets 68% 23% 9%
Rabbits 56% 30% 14%
Other Mammals 48% 34% 18%
Reptiles 39% 39% 22%
Pet Livestock 38% 26% 35%
Fish 25% 32% 43%
Pet Poultry 24% 22% 54%

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

Specialty and exotic pets covered by pet insurance or wellness plans:

Covered by Pet Health Insurance Covered by Wellness Plan
Ferrets 9.7% 10.2%
Rabbits 6.4% 6.6%
Other Mammals 1.4% 2.9%
Reptiles 1.1% 1.7%
Pet Livestock 1.1% 0.7%
Fish 0.3% 0.9%
Pet Poultry 0.1% 0.1%

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

Specialty and exotic pets with registered IDs:

% of Pets Number of Pets
Ferrets 13.7% 68,800
Rabbits 7.3% 163,000
Other Mammals 1.3% 76,000
Reptiles 1.1% 19,000
Pet Livestock 0.6% 22,000
Fish 0.3% 239,000
Pet Poultry 0.2% 28,000

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

Specialty or exotic pet-owning household plans to add pets in 2017:

Yes No Don’t Know
Ferrets 28% 44% 27%
Rabbits 26% 44% 30%
Other Mammals 15% 70% 15%
Reptiles 10% 68% 21%
Pet Livestock 7% 72% 21%
Fish 6% 75% 19%
Pet Poultry 4% 82% 14%

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

Reported sources of most recently acquired specialty or exotic pet:

Breeder Fried or Relative Offspring Pet Shop Rescue Shelter Stranger Stray Vet
Ferrets 3% 9% 2% 56% 11% 16% 2% 0.0%
Rabbits 15% 29% 4% 27% 8% 9% 8% 0.5%
Other Mammals 5% 16% 2% 60% 8% 8% 2% 0.0%
Reptiles 7% 22% 1% 46% 4% 8% 13% 0.1%
Pet Livestock 29% 29% 11% 4% 3% 23% 1% 0.0%
Fish 2% 8% 2% 82% 1% 4% 1% 0.1%
Pet Poultry 26% 21% 13% 24% 1% 12% 2% 0.3%

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

 

 

Bearded dragons are the most commonly searched reptile in Australia, Western Europe, the U.S., and Canada, according to a 2021 study of Google Trends data.

(Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)

 

 

Ball pythons, leopard geckos, chameleons, and corn snakes are the next most popularly searched reptiles.

(Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)

 

Resources

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

Packaged Facts

Reptifiles

SpringerLink

SpringerLink

SpringerLink

SpringerLink

SpringerLink

SpringerLink

National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine

National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine

National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine

National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine

Born Free USA

Ecological Society of America

Magnolia Press – Zootaxa

SpringerLink

National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine

Defenders of Wildlife

Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians

National Center for Biotechnology Information – National Library of Medicine

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute