In 2013 13 million (45%) of households keep pets. That is a total pet population of nearly 71 million; 24.5 million if you exclude fish. The most popular pets in the UK are fish, most in tanks but followed in second place by those kept in ponds. They are followed by dogs, cats, rabbits, caged birds, domestic fowl (chickens etc), guinea pigs, hamsters and in tenth place, horses and ponies.
If you’re considering keeping pets, (we’ll exclude keeping horses), your most expensive outlay will be housing them, and in most cases, this is fairly cheap. Insuring them is a must, as vets’ bills can really hurt your wallet, but if there is an emergency, you can always use the option of a short term loan from the likes of Wizzcash, or your regular bricks and mortar bank if you don’t mind a slower turn-around time.
Although fish are very cheap to keep, the initial outlay of a tank or pond can be expensive. Tanks are normally available second-hand from eBay, Freecyle or your local Facebook group. They need little maintenance either; cleaning monthly, feeding every-other day and removing the occasional dead fish. Although they are delightful to watch and can be a great hobby if you’re intending to breed them, they’re don’t offer much in the way of petting.
The first pet for a child is very often a rabbit, hamster or guinea pig. Again, they are economical to keep and can be a valuable tool for teaching children about the life-cycle. A small hutch or tank cleaned regularly, and some animal-specific food with the odd treat or fresh vegetable peelings are all they need, with some toys to keep them entertained.
Cats and dogs can be as expensive as you want; a pure-bred animal can cost hundreds of pounds but make use of the rescue centres; they only ask for a small charitable donation and you’re giving a homeless animal a family they deserve. You don’t need expensive bedding; an old blanket is all they require, and toys (as long as they are safe) can be an old child’s toy or a stuffed pair of tights! The introduction of a cat or dog can be of enormous benefit. They can be a friend to a child, company for an elderly relative and with a larger dog, a way to keep you fit with the long walks they require!
Caged birds like budgies or parrots can again be great company, and you could even teach them to talk. A decent sized cage with toys to stop boredom is your initial outlay, but food is cheap and bedding is simple.
Keeping fowl can be enchanting; until you do, you won’t understand quite how distinctive their personalities’ can be. Installing a good sized shed for protection, warmth and a place to lay eggs is an absolute must, and they also need a good area to roam around in and peck for grubs and vegetation. This can be expensive; some chicken houses run into hundreds of pounds. Again, check one of the second-hand sites. Once you have this, food and bedding is very cheap. Layers pellets, a little corn and vegetable waste for treats keep them well fed and some straw to keep them warm do little harm to your wallet.