Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

Finding the Right Type of Pet When you Live in an Apartment

Because many exotic pets are compact and quiet (and don't need to go for walks), they can be a good choice for apartments. Always check your tenant or homeowner's agreements, however, to find out what pets are permitted before choosing an exotic pet for apartment living. If pets are usually not allowed, you may be able to get an exception, but if this is the case, always get permission in writing (never try to sneak a pet in!). Once you are all clear to choose an exotic pet, figure out...MORE what you want in a pet and what kind of space you have. Here's some help with the decision.

  • 01 of 16
    Coco Lapin
    François Dorothé / Getty Images
    • Sociable (often do not like to be held, but happy to be near their humans).
    • Can be litter trained (may take significant effort) and therefore have time out of the cage (some house bunnies are fully free range).
    • Need a fairly large cage, especially if time out of the cage is limited.
    • Should be spayed and neutered for health reasons but also to cut down territorial marking behavior.
    • Like to chew and dig so effort must be put into training and rabbit-proofing (damage to wood trim and carpeting a distinct possibility).
  • 02 of 16
    Ferret Resting On Hardwood Floor
    Nadja Schilling / EyeEm / Getty Images
    • Active, social, and love to play (with humans and each other) when awake, but sleep a good chunk of the day.
    • Need quite a large cage as well as playtime out of the cage.
    • Can be litter trained.
    • Must be spayed (critical for health of females) and should be neutered -- most ferrets already are by the time they are sold as pets.
    • Tend to like to hide in small spaces and get into mischief, so good ferret-proofing and supervision is needed.
  • 03 of 16
    Fancy rat perches on seat of black leather chair
    Photography by Peter A. Kemmer / Getty Images
    • Friendly and responsive; generally easily tamed and often like to hang out on peoples' shoulders or laps.
    • Should be kept in same sex pairs or groups -- need a fairly large cage as well as playtime out of the cage.
    • Tend to be most active at night, though seem to adapt somewhat and will readily wake during the day for action.
  • 04 of 16
    Close-up of a House mouse (Mus musculus)
    Nature Picture Library / Getty Images
    • For apartment living, consider a group of females (males tend to have a stronger odor). Mice are social and happiest with other mice, and their playful antics are fun to watch.
    • Can be tamed but are quick and small so not as easy to handle as larger rodents.
    • Good for small spaces -- even a small group can get by without a huge cage.
    • Do not need extra exercise outside of a well-equipped cage, and especially if kept in pairs or groups, mice do not need a lot of attention.
    • Mostly active at night.
    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16
    Portrait of female syrian hamster Buleczka
    Pyza / Puchikumo / Getty Images
    • Syrian hamsters are solitary, but dwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairs.
    • Can be readily tamed and handled with regular handling (Syrians tend to a bit easier to handle than smaller and quicker dwarf hamsters).
    • Do not need much space or a very large cage so good for small spaces.
    • With a decent sized cage and the right accessories, don't need exercise out of the cage and can entertaining to watch.
    • More active at night.
  • 06 of 16
    Two Gerbils in Aquarium
    Richard Hutchings / Getty Images
    • Social, and can be tamed and handled
    • Do best in same sex pairs or groups due to their social nature.
    • Can get by without a huge cage, so reasonable for small spaces.
    • With a good sized cage they won't need playtime out of the cage, and their social antics are fun to watch.
    • Active off and on throughout the day and night.
  • 07 of 16
    Close-Up Of Guinea Pig Eating Cucumber On Floorboard
    Jasmin Sachtleben / EyeEm / Getty Images
    • Social and easy to handle.
    • Need a large cage and do best kept in same-sex groups.
    • Even with a large cage, will appreciate time out of the cage to socialize, explore, and play.
    • Are capable of making loud "wheeking" noises, especially if they are looking for food. They are not really loud, but they are not as quiet as most of the other pets on this list.
  • 08 of 16
    Leopard Gecko
    Fernando Trabanco Fotografía / Getty Images
    • Wide variety of choices, depending on space and your budget.
    • Typically not as socially responsive as mammals.
    • Lizards: leopard geckos, crested geckos, house geckos, bearded dragons, and anoles are good choices for beginners and smaller spaces.
    • Snakes: corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes and ball pythons are all good choices for both beginners and smaller spaces (be extra careful - snakes are escape artists and you will not be popular with your neighbors if your snake gets out).
    • Turtles: not the best choices for apartment living. With a large (very large) tank, aquatic turtles would do okay, but box turtles and tortoises do best if they can be in a yard at least part of the time.
    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16
    Close-Up Portrait Of Chinchilla
    Ania Tomczyk / EyeEm / Getty Images
    • Social and easy to tame, though may not like to be held and cuddled so much as just being near you.
    • Need a fairly large cage and playtime outside the cage.
    • Like routines and quiet time during day; most active in the evening and early morning.
  • 10 of 16
    Degu on hand
    Ales Veluscek / Getty Images
    • Social, can be tamed and handled.
    • Do best kept in same-sex or groups.
    • Need a large cage and plenty of opportunity for exercise.
    • Most active during the day.
  • 11 of 16
    Baby Hedgehog
    Kimu_tae / Getty Images
    • Can be handled and taken out of the cage for exercise.
    • Need a decent sized cage but not a whole lot of space (generally solitary).
    • Most active at night.
    • Check legal status in your area first.
  • 12 of 16
    A sugar glider joey (baby) climbing up the mirror
    Kristina Parchomchuk / Getty Images
    • Social and bond well with owners if handled lots from ​a young age.
    • Due to social nature, do best in same-sex pairs (but only if raised together from a young age -- older sugar gliders are often very territorial toward new gliders)
    • Active and playful, sugar gliders need a large cage, but height is more important than floor space.
    • Difficult to fully meet nutritional needs.
    • Check legal status in your area first.
    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16
    A little frog sitting on someone's finger
    Jann Lipka / Getty Images
    • Most frogs do not need much space.
    • Several choices -- aquatic frogs (dwarf clawed frogs, African clawed frogs), semi-aquatic frogs (oriental fire bellied toads), tree frogs (American green tree frog, White's tree frog), to large but sedentary frogs (pacman frogs).
    • Keep in mind males may sing, so also not a fully quiet choice.
    • Not suitable for handling (their skin is too sensitive and delicate).
  • 14 of 16
    Hermit crab in a shell, Maldives
    David Fettes / Getty Images
    • Interesting to watch (not great for handling, though).
    • Social, so do best with other hermit crabs.
    • Need a larger tank than most pet stores sell for crabs, but a 10-20 gallon tank should do for a few small crabs.
  • 15 of 16
    Wild Japanese fire belly newt
    Ippei Naoi / Getty Images
    • Mostly aquatic -- need an aquarium that is part water, part land.
    • Easy to care for.
    • Striking colors and fun to watch, but not suitable for handling.
  • 16 of 16
    Detail Shot Of Spider
    Sascha Lorenz / EyeEm / Getty Images
    • A bit more adventurous choice, but quiet, clean, easy to care for, and need very little space.
    • Be extra careful about escapes -- both the tarantula and the crickets it will eat. If your tarantula goes missing, you will be extremely unpopular with your neighbors!
    • Not suitable for handling, mostly due to the risk of injury to the tarantula.