Roman Pets

The Romans had different kinds of pets than we have today.  Some of the pets included greyhound dogs, ferrets, small monkeys, blackbirds, nightingale, parrots, and other breeds of animals.

There were also a lot of different kinds of animals that lived during Ancient Roman times, such as exotic animals that were often times brought in from other areas.


Some of the most important pets during the Ancient Roman times were dogs.  Dogs were very popular and one of the most popular dogs were the greyhound dogs.  There were also other breeds of dogs such as the Laconian, the Molossian and the Veraguas which were all ancestors of the greyhound dog.

Another very famous breed of dog that the Romans owned was the Maltese.  This was a small dog that was white.

Dogs would have dog tags, similar to the ones that people put on their dogs today so that people would know if their dog ended up missing.

Dogs were used during Ancient Roman times to guard the area and to protect the homes from thieves.  Sometimes, you would see a dog that would be chained to a home or a fence while the owners were gone from their home.

Many dogs were also hunting dogs or herd dogs.  These dogs would work and then they would be kept as pets when they finished their jobs.


Most of the time the Romans did not own cats.  Cats were popular in other places but not in Rome.

Most of the Roman people had ferrets and the ferrets were kept so that they could keep away the rats and the mice in the area.


Birds were very popular pets during Ancient Roman times.  Birds such as magpies, starlings and crows were popular pets.  Some birds could talk, and the Romans would get these birds so that they could teach them to talk to them.

Other popular birds in Rome included Peacocks, pigeons, Goldfinches, Heathcocks and more.

Other Animals

There were other animals that were known to be in Rome and some of these included:

  • Rabbits
  • Wolves
  • Squirrels
  • Bears
  • Deer
  • Foxes
  • Sheep
  • Mice
  • Snakes including poisonous Vipers
  • Bats
  • Boar
  • Lion
  • Crocodile
  • Tigers
  • Leopards
  • Bulls
  • Elephants
  • Rhinoceros
  • Hippos

Even fish were found in Rome, but most of the fish were used to eat such as the Blue Tin Tuna, the White Shark and the Swordfish.  People of Rome would fish for these fish not only to eat but also to trade.

Facts About Ancient Roman Pets:

  • Some animals such as the bull or the sheep were used as sacrifices.
  • In Rome, there were no skunks or beavers.
  • The Romans would have ponds that they would keep some of the fish for pets.
  • Many exotic pets such as the Lion and the Tiger were exported to Rome.
  • Many animals were used in the Roman arena so that they could fight to the death. This was part of the Roman entertainment.
  • Women of Rome loved to have birds that lived in cages.
  • Many superstitions about birds lasted in Rome such as if a bird died then it would mean that someone close to them was going to die.
  • The slaves would often times take care of the pets.
  • There were many dog statues that were found from Ancient Roman times. This suggest that dogs were very popular to the people of Rome.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What kind of pets did the Ancient Romans have?  The Ancient Romans had pets such as dogs, ferrets, monkeys, birds and other animals.
  2. What animals were the most important to women? Birds were the most important birds to women.
  3. What kind of exotic animals were in Ancient Rome? Exotic animals such as lions, tigers, leopards, rhinoceros’ and other exotic animals were found in Rome.
  4. What animals did not live in Rome? Skunks and beavers were not found in Rome.
  5. Why were dogs important in Ancient Rome? Dogs were popular in Ancient Rome because they would hunt, herd cattle and would protect the home from thieves.