I have heard that rabbits are currently the third most popular pet in the United States, is this true? Is popularity dependent on country (and if so how is it measured)?

I know from experience that shelters in the Pittsburgh Pa (USA) area who take all kinds of pets get more bunnies then any other non Dog/Cat animal.

Where "Popular" is defined by a studies criteria


Where Popular is number of animals owned in a non-commercial (household) count.

  • Where would show rabbits appear on your list? Commercial or non-commercial?
    – user9
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 21:15
  • @Chad, that is a really hard question, I have given it a lot of thought. Not sure what the answer is. The question is broader then just rabbits, maybe one of us should write the big question and see what the responses are? Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 23:25

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure how reliably anyone could quantify this, as I know of no global pet survey, but it appears the answer to the question of whether rabbits are ranked #3 is: probably not.

Even though the numbers vary from country to country, cats, dogs, and freshwater fish tend to be more popular than rabbits (and fish seem a very unlikely candidate for a shelter, which may be why you missed them).

This slideshow (citing athe AVMA, who cited the 2007 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook) provides some raw statistics for the US.

By Total Number of Owned Animals

81,721,000 Cats

75,898,000 Fish

72,114,000 Dogs

11,199,000 Birds

10,995,000 Livestock

7,295,000 Horses

6,171,000 Rabbits

By Number of Owner Households

43,021,000 Dogs

37,460,000 Cats

9,036,000 Fish

4,453,000 Birds

2,087,000 Horses

1,870,000 Rabbits

This unsourced answer to a similar question lumps rabbits under "small animals", but still places them fourth, behind cats, dogs, and fish.

A 2011 survey in the UK by the Pet Foods Manufacturer's Association placed rabbits at #4 in the UK, also behind fish, cats, and dogs.


This myth seems to originate from a "Humane Society of the United States" report that is often quoted but I am not currently able to find, that Rabbits are the third most ABANDONED pet in the United States. 1 2 3

In Europe "Rabbits are the most abused domestic pet in England and Wales, with 35,000 abandoned every year, says the RSPCA". This BBC article goes on to say that "Rabbits are the third most popular pet after cats and dogs"

According to some surveys 80% of Rabbits in shelters are abandoned Easter Bunnies. In fact there are entire books written about this i.e. The Easter Bunny That Grew Up By Gretta Parker.

Besides being taken to shelters they are dropped abandoned in the wild where they suffer terrible fates, Parasites, attacks by wild rabbits, inability to bread with wild rabbits, and death from a number of avenues.

Depending on where you live rabbits may or may not be the 3rd most popular pet, but they are likely in the top 3 abused and abandoned pets.


i found a ratio of rabbits as a pet: 25% of all pet rabbits were adopted and 14% were purchased from pet stores. Between 2011-12 and 2013-14, the number of rabbits purchased at pet stores declined by 42%. by this we ca estimate how popular rabbits are as pets

  • 1
    There is room to improve this answer. A couple of points to consider. Where did you find the ratio you mentioned? Where does pet store sales research come from? Where does adopted data come from? How did the other 61% of pet rabbits find homes? How does any of this relate to other kinds of pets? Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 11:17

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