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Swindon's Top 10 Favourite Pets 

We are starting a new series of features about pets and petcare – and to get us started we’ve been taking a look at Swindon’s pet population.

Pets in Swindon
What are our favourite pets and how many are there? We couldn’t go round counting them, but we did get our calculators out to come up with the town's top ten.

The results are mostly shown in pet-owning households rather than the number of pets. This is because it gives a more accurate picture of owners. For example, fish would always come out on top of any animal count, even though only a small number of families keep fish compared with cat and dog owners.

In the time-honoured tradition, we’re revealing them in reverse order. See if you can guess the order…

10. Ponies and horses
 
About 500 households in Swindon are pony and horsey types who and actually own animals - the vast majority of them owning just one.
 


9. Domestic fowl
 
This is the big climber on the pet-owning chart. Even conservative estimates reckon the number of people rearing chickens has trebled since 1999, and the actual number could me even higher.
 
 
Figures are rising so fast, statisticians are struggling to keep up, but there are reckoned to be around 600-750 chicken fanciers in Swindon.

7/8. Hamsters and gerbils
 
There is a tie for seventh and eight places, with the figures just too close to call – which is quite appropriate as the two contenders are closely related.
 
 
There are approximately 1,080 households who own hamsters in Swindon, and a nearly identical number are thought to own gerbils.

6. Indoor birds

About 1,800 Swindon households own indoor birds, and if you also include people who also own pigeons and have avaries, the figure rises slightly, although not enough to affect the top ten.
 


5. Rabbits
 
There are around 2,500 rabbit-owning households in Swindon – and that’s a lot of bunnies because owners, on average, keep 1.3 rabbits.
 
 
4. Outdoor fish
 
More than 7,500 Swindon households have ponds in which they keep fish. As few people have just one, and some keep perhaps dozens, this makes fish easily the most numerous pets in Britain.
 

3. Indoor fish
 
About 9,300 Swindon households have indoor fish tanks (or at least a goldfish bowl).
 
 
When you add together the number of outdoor and indoor fish owned in Britain, there are nearly as many fish as people.

2. Dogs
 
In terms of actual numbers of pets, it’s almost impossible to separate dogs and cats in Britain, which has eight million of each.
 
Nationally, more households have dogs than cats, but urban areas favour cats, and there is a north-south divide, with cats being more popular in the south. So cats have the edge in Swindon.
 
 
An estimated 16,000 Swindon households keep dogs – or about one in five. Britain’s favourite breed is the Labrador, closely followed by border collies and Jack Russells – all of which have around 2,000 in Swindon.
 
But they are so close it’s impossible to say which is the town’s outright favourite breed. Three-quarters of Britain's dogs are pedigree, compared with 14 per cent mixed breeds and 11 per cent cross-breeds.

1. Cats

Swindon folk loves their moggies. There are up to 20,000 households in Swindon with cats – nearly one in four.
 
However, compared with dog owners, cat lovers are more inclined to keep more than one, and the national average is 1.5 cats per cat-owning household. So that makes about 30,000 cats in Swindon. If you took them to the County Ground, you’d have two cats for nearly every seat! Around 92 per cent of Britain’s cats are mere moggies, with only eight per cent boasting proper pedigrees.

Meow!
Cats are the number one pet in Swindon

Note on pets calculations
 
No figures or method exists for quantifying the exact number of pets in Swindon.
 
However, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) – who need to know these things - regularly carry out detailed surveys, and last did one in 2009. By taking their national and regional figures and applying local demographics, it is possible to estimate local figures.
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