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Market for ‘Other Pets’ Is Booming, Reports Says

More than 12% of US households own a type of pet other than dogs and cats.

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A pandemic-driven acquisition spree raised ownership of pets other than dogs and cats to the highest level in a decade for three of the four main “other pet” types, with pet birds being the exception, according to Packaged Facts. In the wake of COVID-19, 12.2% of all U.S. households own a type of pet other than dogs and cats, up from 10.8% five years ago, according to the firm’s new report on fish, small mammal, herptile and bird products,.

Now at $2.8 million, the retail market for fish, small mammal, reptile/amphibian and bird products posted sales increases across categories in 2020, the firm said in a press release. That resulted in an 18.5% sales increase that exceeded even the unprecedented 15.8% growth experienced by the retail pet products sector overall.

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Despite the economic set-backs and uncertainties since COVID-19, Packaged Facts survey results from June 2021 show that only 4% of other pet owners decreased their pet spending in the previous 12 months, while 33% increased it.

“Product premiumization plays a part in this spending increase, with these other pet owners following the pattern of dog and cat owners in seeking out costlier natural foods and more design- and eco-conscious non-food products such as bedding, habitats/enclosures, and toys,” according to report analyst Shannon Brown.

Why do millions of Americans opt for fish, small animals, reptiles, and birds? Nearly two-thirds of other pet owners (65%) enjoy keeping them because they are fun to watch and observe, according to Packaged Facts survey data. Over half (52%) simply love this type of pet. Other common motivations include these pets being fun to interact with, adding liveliness to the home, and providing companionship.

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These motivations provide clear context for the pandemic-driven other pet acquisition boom. With the stay-at-home, school-from-home dynamics earlier in the crisis and the ongoing waves of COVID-19 infection, home-centric households are relying on various types of pets for adult and child activities, comfort and companionship. Even when pandemic restrictions ease and online classes become options, most households will continue to cherish these pets, such that continued market growth is projected in the coming years, according to the press release.

Packaged Facts explained that marketers in the other pets market would do well to position on both function and “fun” while expanding their product ranges.

“Retailers should find success in products that allow people to interact with various types of pets in safe, enjoyable ways while keeping all creatures involved healthy and happy,” according to the release.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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