Popular pets

Popular pets

There are a wide range of animals kept as pets in the UK and they each have very different physical and emotional needs. The following information is intended only as a guide to the most commonly kept pets. For further information on particular species, please contact the animal welfare organisations listed on the useful contacts page.


FishMost landlords are happy for their tenants to keep fish in their properties as they generally cause no problems. One thing to consider is the size of the aquarium as some can be very large and will require a suitable stand to take their weight.


BirdsA wide range of birds are kept as pets from small finches to large parrots. Budgerigars are the most popular pet bird in the UK, particularly among older people.

Birds are intelligent animals and need stimulation, such as toys and mirrors in their cages. They also need time to fly and stretch their wings each day. Birds should be supervised when they are outside of their cages. It's illegal to keep a bird in a cage in which it cannot fully stretch its wings in every direction.

Birds are sociable animals and benefit from living in pairs or small groups. They should only be kept on their own if their owner is at home for most of the day to interact with them.

Small Furries

Small furriesSmall furries, such as hamsters and gerbils, are popular pets, particularly for families with children.

Any accommodation, such as a cage or stacked housing system, must be large enough for the type and number of pets kept. Small furries will require physical and mental stimulation so toys, chews, digging and nesting materials should be provided in their cages.

Unless their enclosure is very large, all small furries will require supervised time outside of their cage to run around and exercise. An exercise wheel or ball alone is not sufficient.

Exotic Pets

ExoticsExotic pets, such as tortoises, lizards, spiders and snakes, have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Like all animals, exotic pets require adequate space to live and grow, as well as a rich, natural environment. Some exotic pets, such as snakes and iguanas, grow very big and will need to be housed in large vivariums.

Exotic animals often require specialist knowledge and care.


RabbitsRabbits can be kept indoors or outdoors in a hutch or cage. They are sociable animals and benefit from living in pairs of their own kind. Rabbits living together should always be neutered as they can be prolific breeders and may also fight.

Outdoor rabbits will need a large hutch with space to stretch and hop, as well as a separate sleeping area. Ideally an outdoor run should be attached to the hutch for exercise but pet owners may also wish to let their rabbits into the garden for supervised exercise.

Indoor rabbits will usually be housed in a cage or pen and can be trained to use a litter tray. Rabbits are natural born chewers so they should always be supervised when they are outside of their cage to ensure they do not chew wires or cables. Loose wires can be rabbit-proofed using cable covers.

All rabbits require physical and mental stimulation. Rabbits should be provided with toys, wooden chews, cardboard boxes and tubes to play with.

Rabbits can be vaccinated annually against myxamitosis and viral hemorrhagic disease (VHD).

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigsIf your property has a garden then it will probably be suitable for guinea pigs that can be kept in an outdoor cage and run. Most pet owners will want to let their guinea pigs out into the garden for supervised exercise so it will need to be secure to prevent them from escaping.

Guinea pigs are not generally interested in toys but they will benefit from plenty of space to run around and cardboard boxes and tubes to explore and hide in.

Guinea pigs ideally need companionship of their own kind so they should be kept in pairs or small groups. Rabbits and guinea pigs should not be kept together as rabbits have powerful hind legs and can cause serious injuries to guinea pigs.


CatsCats are independent pets and will often spend more time roaming outside than in the home. However, some cats may be kept indoors due to age or illness so you should not automatically exclude cats from flats.

All cats should be given a litter tray to minimise the problem of fouling in other people's gardens. Cats provided with a scratching post and toys to occupy and stimulate them are much less likely to scratch and claw at carpets and furniture.

Cats can be vaccinated annually against feline infectious enteritis (FIE), cat flu, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline chlamydophilosis.


DogsDogs are the most popular pet in the UK. They are highly sociable animals so should not be left alone for long periods of time. Dogs that are left alone are more likely to bark or cause damage to the property. Before you accept a dog in your property, find out how long it will be left alone for during the day. Dogs Trust recommends that dogs are not left alone for more than 4 hours at a time. Dogs should be left with toys and other distractions to occupy them while their owners are out.

It's a common misconception that dogs can only be kept in properties with gardens. As long as their owners provide them with regular exercise, there is no reason why dogs cannot live in flats. However, each case should be assessed individually. For example, flats with stairs and no lift would not be suitable for an elderly dog with mobility problems. Likewise a small flat may not be suitable for a giant breed of dog.

Most dogs need plenty of exercise and time outside of the home. Exercise not only keeps them physically fit but also provides them with mental stimulation and environmental enrichment.

All dogs should be toilet trained as puppies so there should be no problem with them fouling inside the property. Most dogs will toilet in the garden or during their daily walks. Dog owners are responsible for clearing up after their dogs in public as well as in communal areas, walkways or in the garden.

Dogs can be vaccinated annually against canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and kennel cough.