National Geographic News
A boy and his dog hide under the covers.

A new poll shows that one-third of pet owners let their animals sleep in bed with them.

Photograph by D. Corson, Corbis

Christine Dell'Amore

National Geographic

Published June 19, 2013

Americans love their pets—and a new poll shows just how much we dote on our critters, while revealing some curious attitudes toward animals (and people).

Six out of ten voters interviewed have a pet, with a third reporting that their critters sleep in the bed with them. (No word on whether that includes reptiles.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, one in five people said they'd prefer to spend time with their animals than with other people. (See pictures of pampered pets.)

Fifty-two percent prefer dogs, 21 percent prefer cats, and 27 percent aren't sure which species they like better.

When asked whether they agreed with the statement "Dog owners need to get better control of their dogs," 48 percent did. Twenty-three percent agreed with the statement "Cat owners are weirder than dog owners," with 35 percent disagreeing. (Get National Geographic's tips on photographing your pet.)

Public Policy Polling interviewed 603 registered voters by telephone between June 11 and 13, asking them 36 questions relating to their views on pets, animal phobias, and other random creature preferences. The poll, which was not authorized or paid for by any campaign or political organization, had a margin of error of +/-4 percent.

Five more intriguing results:

1. Twenty-one percent rated snakes as the most terrifying animal, followed by alligators at 19 percent and sharks and bears at 18 and 14 percent, respectively.

2. Nine percent of those polled are vegan or vegetarian, while 91 percent are not.

3. Eighteen percent believe the Loch Ness Monster is real.

4. On preferences for an exotic pet, 26 percent said they would choose a tiger, 20 percent a giraffe, 18 percent a dinosaur, and 16 percent an elephant. (Read about exotic animals as pets.)

5. Ninety percent said they would not want a hippopotamus for Christmas—perhaps to the collective relief of hippos worldwide.

How much do you really know about your pet? Take National Geographic's pet quiz-and then test your dog and cat IQ.

Follow Christine Dell'Amore on Twitter and Google+

Mary Naccarato
Mary Naccarato

Wild creatures belong and should remain  in the wild.  Just ask the lady that was attacked by her friend's chimpanzee.

C ODonnell
C ODonnell

I want a S. Am. Bush dog. I don't see why I shouldn't be able to have one since they're endangered.

MacGyver Lizard
MacGyver Lizard

"Six out of ten voters interviewed have a pet, with a third reporting that their critters sleep in the bed with them. (No word on whether that includes reptiles.)"

Yeah people let their big lizards sleep w/them.

amanda caperton
amanda caperton

I find it interesting that, assuming this generalizes to Americans in general, 60% have pets, yet less than 10% are vegetarian or for thought (pun intended). Also, I am disappointed that people were quizzed on exotic pet preferences - no responsible individual or institution, and no animal lover should promote the possession of exotic animals. 

MacGyver Lizard
MacGyver Lizard

@amanda caperton Depends on what your definition of an "exotic" pet is.  Lions and tigers I think most of us would agree with, but just because something is an uncommon pet and classified as "exotic" doesn't mean its a bad pet, a public safety issue, or any different of an animal rights issue than dogs & cats as pets.  Do a google/youtube search for "MacGyver the Lizard" for a great example.  Details matter.


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