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Tomorrow is 4th October and a very special day, particularly for animal lovers – World Animal Day. In the Netherlands this often means that children are allowed to bring their beloved pets to school and households up and down the country reward their loyal companions with a special treat, such as a luxury meal or a delicious slice of Dutch sausage. There’s no doubt about it, the Dutch really are a nation of animal lovers – but which are the most popular? To discover the top 10 favourite pets in the Netherlands, read on!
According to a 2008 survey conducted by TNS NIPO, on a representative group of Dutch residents, some 56% of respondents actually owned a pet, which accounted for an impressive 31.3 million animals in total. As this percentage has remained relatively static for many years, it also provides a reasonably reliable current indication.
In percentage terms, the cat is clearly the most favoured of all Dutch pets, with some 49% of Dutch households owning one or more feline friends. Hot on their tail is the dog, with 36% of Dutch citizens enjoying the companionship of ‘man’s best friend’. However, in terms of absolute numbers, neither cats nor dogs top the list. This is probably because other types of pets tend to be kept in larger numbers. Below you’ll find a list of the top 10 favourite pets in the Netherlands, according to sheer numbers.
1) Aquarium Fish
There are an estimated 9.4 million fish happily swimming around in Dutch household aquariums. These range from humble goldfish and guppies, to a selection of more exotic, tropical fish.
2) Pond Fish
Pond fish also appear to be extremely popular with some 8.5 million of them basking in the balmy waters of Dutch back garden ponds. Favourite pond fish include goldfish, koi carp and sturgeon.
As mentioned, the majority of Dutch pet-owning households have a cat, although most own no more than one or two. There are around 3.9 million cats in the Netherlands and according to Dutch pet insurers, Proteq, they most commonly answer to the names of Tijger(tje), Luna, Simba, Gizmo or Max.
4) Songbirds and ornamental birds
Many Dutch enjoy the company of songbirds and ornamental birds, such as parakeets, canaries, tropical birds and (dwarf) parrots. Birds are also social creatures, which is perhaps why most bird cages house two or more of these feathered friends and why there are an estimated 3.1 million of them in Holland.
Some 36% of all Dutch pet owners opt for a dog and there are approximately 2.2 million of them in the Netherlands. Popular dog breeds include the Labrador, German Shepherd and Golden Retriever. According to pet insurer, Proteq, hounds in Holland are most frequently called Luna, Max, Diesel, Bo and Lady. Interestingly, dog and cat owners in the Netherlands seem to share the same taste in names!
6) Chicken, duck and geese
Those living outside the larger Dutch towns and cities are especially fond of keeping chickens, ducks and geese. They’re not only fun and fascinating to have around, they also provide the most delicious free range eggs. In total around 1.5 million chickens, ducks and geese are kept as domestic pets in the Netherlands. Of course, this doesn’t include those on Dutch farms or their wild cousins.
The bunny rabbit is a particular favourite among Dutch children, probably because they are just so cute and cuddly and they don’t have to be walked! There are around 1 million pet rabbits in the Netherlands, excluding wild rabbits and those being kept by professional breeders.
The Netherlands boasts a rich pigeon tradition. In addition to the standard pigeon, decorative doves and other more glamorous varieties form the estimated 900,000 kept in total.
Those who don’t have a particularly spacious home, yet still long for the special companionship of a furry friend, often opt for a space saving rodent. The Dutch own around 600,000 rodents in total, consisting mostly of hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice and rats.
10) Reptiles and amphibians
They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but reptiles and amphibians such as turtles, snakes and lizards are fairly popular in the Netherlands. In fact, there are an estimated 250,000 reptiles and amphibians in Dutch homes, earning them a respectable tenth place.