Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pampered Pets

It’s hard to find a person anywhere who doesn’t like animals. Naturally, it’s the same scenario in Japan. In the English speaking world we tend to live in places that allow for keeping large dogs and perhaps a few cats. The love of cats and dogs is shared in Japan but it’s no secret that the average Japanese home is somewhat smaller than that of anything we’re used to. A smaller home means keeping smaller pets.

Probably one of the first pets a Japanese child is introduced to is the beetle. Particularly popular among young boys, beetles are hunted, collected and even sold. Some rare varieties of beetle can sell for staggering sums. The beetle is an ideal pet for Japanese children. Its small size makes it suitable for any home, and their abundance in nature makes them cheap (in most cases).

Other miniature pets that are extremely popular are hamsters and turtles. Again, due to their size they can be kept with a minimum of fuss. These critters are more expensive than beetles but are still relatively cheap. Hamsters typically sell for something around 3-5000 yen, and baby turtles sometimes as cheap as a few hundred yen.

Just as in many other countries around the world cats and dogs are probably the most popular pet. Miniature dogs tend to be most common (again, due to living space), but can fetch some high prices. Even a tiny chihuahua can sell for hundreds of thousands of yen. Cats are a popular choice also. Due to their wild nature, they don’t need to spend a great deal of time indoors which is ideal when you don’t have a lot of space or are busy. Stray cats are often adopted in Japan but pedigree varieties, like their canine counterparts, sell for lofty sums.

A trip to a Japanese pet shop is quite the experience. There are all manner of species available; birds, reptiles and even small monkeys can be found. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of pet shops in Japan though is the range of pet supplies and accessories one can find. Treats, toys, clothes and even goggles for your pet do a healthy turn-over in Japan. A recent government survey found that growth in pet-related expenses for Japanese families has exceeded regular family expenditures.

The pet-industry in Japan is big and is getting bigger. Small dogs in sweaters may sound odd at first but for their owners doggy fashion is no laughing matter.

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