The day a tiger came to tea?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
July 17, 2012, 2:43 PM GMT+0

Micro-pigs, pygmy-hippos…what other animals would Brits have as pets? 14% want dog-sized tiger

Imagine if you could take any animal and make it the same size as that most regular of the house pets – the dog – in order to keep it as a pet. If that seems a random question, spare a thought for Janey Byrne, who, it was reported last week, bought a micro-pig only to discover ‒ three years and one seventeen stone, full-size pig later ‒ that it was no such thing.

Our recent survey gave Britons a list of animals and asked “If you were able to make any of the following animals the size of a dog so that you could keep it as a pet, which would you choose?”

It seems the British public are a fierce lot, with a tiger coming out as number one from the list we offered, followed by an elephant, and a polar bear.

  • The most popular animal from our list for Brits to imagine in medium-sized dog scale was the tiger with 14%
  • The elephant was second most popular with 10% wanting to shrink it down for a pet
  • 6% would have a dog-sized polar bear as a pet

More big cats were also favoured, such as the lion, the cheetah and the leopard, though other creatures such as a giraffe, a zebra and a crocodile also won a few votes.

  • The next big cat from the poll to be seen as suitable for dog size was a lion as voted by 5%
  • 4% would gladly keep a small cheetah as a pet, along with 4% who fancied a giraffe
  • A leopard was the least favourite of the big cats with 3%
  • A small horse also received 3%
  • Only 1% would keep a dog sized hippo, a zebra, or a cow
  • 1% would also keep dog sized reptiles such as a crocodile or a tortoise
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, no one would choose to keep a small rhinoceros
  • And the squeamish among you perhaps ensured that naturally smaller 'pest' creatures such as the cockroach, the tarantula and the mouse would also not be wanted in dog size by anyone

For anyone who voted for a smaller pet hippo or elephant, you’re in luck, as stories of pygmy hippos growing up to be the size of a large dog have been hitting the odder corners of the news of late (despite not actually being suitable to keep as pets outside a special environment).

Similarly, the pygmy elephant, though once thought to be extinct, has been re-discovered in Borneo, but is on balance probably still too big for your average kitchen.

Miniature creatures which are actually able to be kept as pets, however, include the popular micro pig which when born can fit into a teacup; a pygmy goat which is actually the size of a little dog; and the miniature horse which never grows any bigger than a small pony.

But despite not being so popular with the public, there's no denying that some creepy crawlies could prove a match for any pet ‒ including the camel spider, which thrives in hot dry climates like the desert and which can grow up to the size of a dinner plate; the Ghana snail, which can be the size of a small dog or puppy, hailing ‒ as its name would suggest ‒ from Africa; and a species of giant rat, which has just been discovered deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

See the survey details and full results here