Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, which is a huge relief because that means my family fits right in, having 15 pets in total (11 of which are fish) with plans for more. There are an estimated 25 million pets currently residing in Australian homes according to the RSPCA and the population (of humans) is 26 million.
That means most homes have a pet, or some, like mine, have more than their fair share and that overall, Australia almost has as many pets as it does people.
Dogs are the most common Aussie pet with 39 per cent of households having one, closely followed by cats in 29 per cent of homes.
There are 8.1 million pet birds across the country, of which three are mine. They are budgies, and ridiculously cute as well as alarmingly loud for such little birds. Of those homes without pets – cold, loveless, clean homes they must be – over half are planning on getting one in the next 12 months.
Here’s the story of how I ended up with 15 pets and why I plan to get at least two more in the next 12 months.
My son with autism loves animals. He loves the zoo and farms and pet stores and friends and relatives who have pets. It's true of any child. They gravitate towards animals, don't they? For Giovanni, 8, it's a bit different. Yes he loves animals but also, they bring him out of his shell. He has trouble connecting with people he doesn't know well but he'll always, always connect with animals.
I bought him his first official pet last Christmas. He wanted fish, fascinated with a large tank of tropical fish at a relatives home. Never having had fish I wanted to start off small, so settled on Siamese Fighting Fish.
We decided on three and it was only while choosing a small, narrow tank to fit on our mantle that the pet store worker told us they needed to be given separate compartments. 'They'll fight otherwise.'
So we bought a little fish tank with separate compartments and our three Siamese Fighting Fish live happily (we are told) in complete isolation.
Giovanni, strangely, never took to them. He didn't want anything to do with them. We'd gotten a cat by then, and a dog, and my daughter asked for a budgie, so I got three of them. I figured, we have fish now, why not get a million more pets?
And Giovanni loved them all, except for the fish.
"Giovanni, why don't you like your fish," I asked him.
"I want different fish, Mum."
"What kind of fish do you want?"
"I want fish that love each other," he said.
My incredible, amazing, sensitive little boy was disturbed by the fact his Siamese Fighting Fish couldn't be in the same area, so this Christmas I bought him another tank and we are going to fill it with "friendly fish" that "love each other".
The first time my nephew Peter, 13, came to my house after Christmas he looked around and said, "This place is a zoo". I had to agree.
We have plans to get another cat and another dog and who knows where things will go from there? I don't mind looking after them, Giovanni loves them, my other kids love them and my husband tolerates them.
That's my story of how I ended up with 15 pets, 11 of which are fish.
What's your excuse?
Celebrities and their pets. Click through the gallery below.