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The Most Popular Pets in the United States (Besides Cats and Dogs!)

If we asked you to name the most popular pet in the United States, you’d probably say “dog” or “cat.”

You’d be right, but you’d also be missing out on so many other animals that follow close behind! Learn about the most popular pets that American homeowners call part of their families.


most popular pets

Over 150 million freshwater and saltwater fish call our houses their homes, with 12% of families owning at least one. They’re the third-most-popular pet behind cats and dogs. Freshwater fish, which are easier to care for and generally less expensive, are more common than saltwater fish. Although there are over 142 million freshwater fish, there are under 10 million saltwater pets in the U.S.

If you head to a pet store, you may find the selection of fish overwhelming! Common choices include

  • Neon tetras
  • Guppies
  • Bettas

The Neon Tetra is an excellent “beginner” fish, as it’s easy to maintain and generally happy in groups and smaller environments.

Guppies are another freshwater fish often kept as pets. Easy to care for, they’re beautiful but do require specific tanks and temperatures.

Betta care is different: You can only have one male per tank, and they may need more space than you realize.

Pet stores, breeders, and specialized aquatic stores are great ways to get started with fishkeeping. It’s important to understand:

  • Exactly how much space your fish needs
  • What it eats
  • How it likes its tank arranged
  • How many fish can be kept in a tank

If you’re not sure, speak with an aquatic-store employee or do extensive research to ensure you give your fish the best life possible.


most popular pets

Another popular pet in the United States is birds, with 6% of households owning16 million birds. Some birds can be quite the commitment. Many parrots, for instance, can outlive humans!

The most popular pet birds?

  • Cockatiels – Affectionate and full of personality
  • African gray parrots – Well-known for their intelligence
  • Parakeets (or budgies) – Easier to care for and not as expensive as cockatiels and African grays

Note: Cockatiels and African grays can be handfuls for inexperienced or unaware pet owners, so be sure you understand the commitment before bringing one home.

Just like fish, each type of bird requires specific cage sizes, toys, and food. Before welcoming a bird into your family, research the species that best fits your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a pet.

Birds can be found in pet stores, but there are also several bird rescues you may want to look into first.

What makes birds great pets?


Smaller animals make up a huge chunk of pets in the United States, and this includes rabbits! These cuties have plenty of personality and love to be social. They do require regular attention and enrichment activities, but if you plan on letting yours out of its cage often, bunny-proofing your home is essential.

most popular pets

Although rabbits may be easier to care for than some animals, they are not low-maintenance. They live for 10 years and should be seen as a commitment, just like a dog or cat.

If you’re looking to add a bunny to your home, consider first looking into local animal rescues and shelters.


most popular pets

Another small animal that is a huge hit in American families is the hamster. Easy to care for and generally inexpensive, hamsters can make a perfect choice for families testing out the pet waters or not ready—or wanting—to make a much longer commitment.

Hamsters are a great choice for children, as they help teach them responsibility for a new family member. Hamsters do require enrichment to be happy, so don’t leave yours alone in a boring cage all day.

These animals can commonly be found in just about any pet store, but you may also want to check with local pet rescues. Before bringing the little guy home, make sure any children in the house understand the gentle, proper care this smaller animal will need.


While some people may become uncomfortable sharing a room with a reptile, about 4% of pet owners in the United States call these animals part of their family. With millions of pet reptiles across the country, a majority of owners are Millennials!

What are the most popular pet snakes?

  • Corn snakes – Small and easy to handle; despite the scary “python” name, the ball python is the smallest of them all.
  • Ball pythons – Small and easy to handle; your corn snake could live up to 23 years!
  • Leopard gecko – Has a beautiful pattern but requires special care
  • Bearded dragon – Need plenty of space but can be exceptionally friendly

Some reptiles can be found in pet stores, but you may want to do further research into your options. Consider visiting an exotic pet store if you’re looking to locate a specific species.

Note: Snakes can pose a health risk. Learn more!

most popular pets

These are only some of the most popular pets in the United States. Although dogs and cats are the clear winners, many homeowners also decide to bring birds, reptiles, fish, hamsters, and rabbits into their homes. Other popular choices include horses, turtles, ferrets, and guinea pigs. No matter which animal is your favorite, if you’re searching for a new pet to bring home, it’s important to do your research to ensure both you and your new family member are happy.

Whether you’re welcoming a dog or a corn snake, we’d love to meet them, and checkups on a regular basis are important! Getting it done as soon as possible can help ensure your new family member is getting the pet care it needs for a long and healthy life. Schedule its first appointment with us by calling 281-693-7387.

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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