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You Won’t Believe How Many Pet Owners Spend More on Their Pets’ Health Than on Their Own

© jmt0826 / iStock

By Colman Andrews, 24/7 Tempo

According to a study conducted last year by the American Pet Products Association, some 68% of American households -- about 85 million families -- own pets. We love our cats and dogs and birds and fish. However, there are many other varieties of fauna whose domestic company we enjoy. Here are 44 exotic animals people keep as pets.

Once we have a pet, of course, we want to keep him or her healthy. Is it possible, though, that we go to extremes in that pursuit?

According to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans 18 and older who own a single pet, conducted by the consumer financial advice site LendEDU, some 24% of participants estimated that they spent more on their pet’s health care expenses as they do on their own, while another 22% said that they spent about the same amount. This is surprising, considering that health care costs worry Americans more than any other financial problem.

In addition, 24% of those surveyed report having gone into credit card or personal loan debt, at an average cost of $1,566.96 per person, in order to keep their pets healthy. Having one or more pets is also responsible for 8% of the respondents having delayed getting married and 11% having put off having children (or more children).

The average purchase price of a pet, according to LendEDU, is $282.75, with costs ranging from an average of $57.38 for a fish to $327.13 for a dog. Once they’ve got a pet, people spend a monthly average of $139.73 on him or her -- about a quarter of that on vet bills, pet insurance (yes, it exists), and other healthcare expenditures. In keeping with the difference between their purchase prices, fish cost considerably less to care for overall than dogs: $30.48 versus $153.08 per month.

Fish, of course, are much less likely to have health problems than dogs, and usually have a considerably shorter lifespan. 

But fish, cats, and dogs are not the only animals people own as pets. Possum, rodents, zorillas, and even skunk now find home among humans, too -- these are the 44 most exotic animals people keep as pets.

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