Pets are animals that people usually keep in their homes or in other close contact with them for various reasons. Motives for keeping pets can be: enjoyment of the animal, ornament, interest in behavior or breeding of animals, substitute for social partners or playmates for children.
As pets, almost all species suitable for keeping in the home in terms of size and behavior are possible. Mostly they are mammals, but also many bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species as well as various invertebrates are kept as pets. In the case of reptiles and invertebrates, which are mostly kept in terrariums , these can also include relatively dangerous animals: scorpions , spiders , poisonous snakes , giant snakes .
The European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals of November 13, 1987 defines the term pet animal as follows in Article 1 : “The term pet animal denotes an animal which a person keeps in his household for his own pleasure and as a companion or which is intended for this purpose . "
The terms domestic animal and pet are sometimes fuzzy. In everyday language they are usually used as synonyms . In scientifically precise usage, domestic animals are animals that have been kept and domesticated by humans for specific purposes . Pets can, but need not be domesticated. Almost all pet species that do not belong to the mammals are in this sense not domestic animals, but wild animals. In English, the terms are clear: pet for pets and domestic animal or domesticated animal for pets in the biological sense (domesticated animals).
For some domestic animals, keeping them as pets is the predominant way of keeping them today and the original purpose of use only plays a subordinate role, for example with house cats and house dogs . The transitions are fluid. Canaries were important livestock in coal mining in Germany until the 1950s, where their behavior warned of the occurrence of poisonous gases ( carbon monoxide ) that could escape during tunneling. Today canaries are almost exclusively and only ornamental or pet birds. In addition, the house guinea pig is a farm animal in its South American homeland , but in Europe it has been kept almost exclusively as a pet in addition to being used as an experimental animal since its introduction . In general, overlaps between laboratory animals and pets are common; some pets that are popular today, such as the color rat , were bred as laboratory animals.
In the species kept as pets, all transitions from wild catch to extensive domestication can be found.
Pet population in Germany
According to the Central Association of Zoological Specialists in Germany (ZZF), pets were kept in more than a third of households in Germany in 2012: 12.3 million cats (in 16.5 percent of households), 7.4 million dogs (in 13.4 percent of households), 7.6 million small mammals (in 6.2 percent of households, especially dwarf rabbits ) and 3.7 million ornamental birds (especially budgies ). In addition, there are around 2.3 million aquariums and 2.6 million garden ponds with ornamental fish and 800,000 terrariums, mainly with snakes and lizards .
The number of pets is increasing. 34.4 million pets (excluding ornamental fish and terrarium animals) live in households in Germany 2018. Animals are kept in 45% of all households. 14.8 million cats (in 23% of households), 9.4 million dogs (in 19% of households), 5.4 million small animals (in 6% of households), 1.0 million terrariums (in 2% of households ), 1.5 million garden ponds (in 3% of households), 1.9 million aquariums (in 4% of households) and 4.8 million pet birds (in 4% of households).
45% of all households in Germany have a pet. 63% of all families with children have a pet. 22% of all households have at least two pets.
- Text of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (Official translation of Germany) .
- Germans are enthusiastic about pets Press release by ZZF on a representative survey by the market research institute IMR, June 20, 2012.
- IVH and ZZF: Pet keeping 2018 . In: Zentralverband Zoologischer Fachbetriebe (Hrsg.): Annual report . Wiesbaden January 2019, p. 5 .