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Rabbits and hamsters grow in popularity

Small mammals usually aren’t the only pets at home. A dog or cat is probably there, too.

Rabbits and hamsters grow in popularity
Rabbits are social creatures that enjoy companionship.

Veterinarians may want to ask cat- or dog-owning clients whether any other pets could use a checkup.

The market research firm Packaged Facts revealed in September that 300,000 more U.S. households are caring for a pet hamster or rabbit in 2017 compared with a year earlier. The 1.8 million households that fall into this category likely have a dog or cat as well, evidence that rabbit and hamster owners tend to share their home with larger furry animals.

In fact, 74 percent of rabbit or hamster owners keep a dog, according to the Packaged Facts report “Small Animal Products: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities.” Fifty-three percent look after a cat.

The jump in small mammal ownership presents retail opportunities for veterinary practices. An uptick in sales of toys, bedding and hay boosted the small mammal product market to $630 million in 2016 from $610 million the previous year.

Packaged Facts offered these merchandising ideas:

  • Just about any comparable product will do for 39 percent of small mammal owners. They don’t care much for brand names. On the other hand, 61 percent of owners think brand is very important or somewhat important.
  • Don’t stock cages. 95 percent of rabbit and hamster owners have one.
  • Stock cage accessories instead. These products are “doing very well, particularly as the generally lower price point … still allows owners to spruce up a pet’s enclosure,” the report noted.
  • Offer natural chews and toys that support dental health.