Pets are the epitome of unconditional love, providing companionship and love. It’s no wonder the trend to adopt a pet into the family is growing globally. In India, animals occupy a sacred space that derives from feelings of companionship, and they are commonly seen in sculptures and artworks as companions to deities.
This sacred relationship may be an obvious reason why 60% of the population own a pet, and over 32,000 Indians admit to owning an exotic animal 1.
Like most countries, dogs are known to be the most popular pets in India, followed by cats. However, India has various other pets that are also popular choices. Let’s have a look at the most popular pets in India.
The 8 Most Popular Pets in India:
India is home to various breeds of dogs that were once exported to Rome and Egypt for hunting. Although Indian dogs were popular overseas, the upper and middle classes avoided them at home, except for a few kings and nobles who enjoyed hunting. Dogs, like horses and oxen, were used as work animals in India, and keeping dogs as house pets appears to be relatively new.
Today, dogs are the number one most popular pet in India, with 68% of Indians choosing one as a companion. Their qualities of commitment, unconditional love, and guarding make them a popular choice for a pet, not only in India but worldwide.
In rural India, cats are generally thought to bring bad luck. Like in many other parts of the world, a black cat crossing your path is thought to be a bad omen. Despite these superstitions, cats are a popular choice of pets for modern Indians, with 34% of the country owning one. Their popularity is also growing, and although they don’t take preference over dogs, it is suggested that there will be an average of 2.4 million pet cats by 2023. Persian and Siamese cats are exotic breeds that are growing in popularity in India.
Rabbits are a popular pet for many families since they are highly social and intelligent. They make excellent pets, especially for city dwellers who are constantly on the go for work. While the owner is away, the rabbits are content in their large cage.
The people of India have owned rabbits as pets since the 12 century and are still a popular pet today. India only allows you to purchase certain breeds such as the white rabbit, and it is illegal to own wild rabbit breeds, such as the wild hare. The mini rex is one of the most popular breeds in India, likely because they are calm and easy to care for and live 5–7 years.
4. Guinea Pigs
Smaller pets like guinea pigs are becoming more popular in India because they don’t require much space and are easy to care for. Guinea pigs were mostly recognized as animals used for lab testing but have gained popularity in India as pets. Other than the fact that they are adorable, they do not require training and can easily be contained in an enclosure.
Hamsters make an excellent pet for many people and are a popular choice in India. Like in most families, they are a great option for children. They are adorable, cuddly, and do not require a lot of attention. Popular breeds are the Chinese dwarf hamster, Campbell dwarf hamster, and Siberian dwarf hamster. They have a lifespan of 1–2 years, with some living up to 3 years.
The Wildlife Act protects all species of Indian birds that are native to the country, but exotic birds such as the budgerigar are legal to keep as pets. Popular birds kept as pets in India are cockatiels, budgies, love birds, finches, and doves.
In 2018, the population of pet fish in India was approximately 700,000. By the end of 2023, the population was expected to reach 962,000. The goldfish is one of the most popular pet fish in India, and the betta fish is also an Indian favorite.
Ferrets are regarded as one of the most playful, inquisitive, mischievous, and loving animals on the planet and have the potential to make excellent pets.
Ferrets must be handled properly to avoid scratching or biting and to develop a positive relationship with humans. It is critical to handle ferrets frequently, especially when they are young. Ferrets can live up to 7 years, making them a good choice for a long term pet.
India’s Exotic Pet Trade
Smuggling exotic wildlife into India is a trend in which Indian Customs have noticed a huge increase; owning an exotic pet has become a status symbol in wealthy regions of India. Unfortunately, India has weak laws, and the trade in exotic pets is largely unregulated. The Wildlife Protection Act only guard’s species native to India . Once the animal has made it to India, it can be traded freely. Pet shops must also ensure that the animals were imported legally and appropriately. However, there is no law in place that allows a person found in possession of exotic wildlife species to be prosecuted.
The exotic pets are smuggled in and transported by road to major cities where they are sold in shops and markets, as well as online.
Some exotic animals that have been seized in the past include leopard tortoises, red-footed tortoises, iguanas, bearded dragons, Hyacinth macaws, and parakeets.
Like most countries, dogs and cats are the most popular pets in India. Smaller pets, like rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs, are also gaining popularity as they are smaller, easier to take care of, and don’t require vast amounts of space. Exotic pets in wealthy parts of India are a status symbol, which is one factor driving the illegal pet trade. Although India is also known for their charmers, it is illegal to own any native species of snake in India.
- See also: 6 Most Popular Pets in New Zealand
Featured Image Credit: Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko, Shutterstock