12 Best Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

Because many exotic pets are compact, quiet, and don't require outdoor space, they can be a good choice for apartment living. They're not likely to disrupt nearby neighbors or damage your home. Plus, these animals often are just as fun and loving as more traditional dogs and cats. Here are 12 exotic pets suitable for apartments and other small living spaces.


Just like apartments have rules about pets, local laws also might prohibit certain exotic animals. Know which species are permitted before bringing home an animal.

  • 01 of 12


    rabbit on a bed

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    Rabbits are social animals. While some don't like being held, most are happy to be near their favorite humans. Many people allow their rabbits free range in their homes, which is ideal for exercise. To make cleanup easy, rabbits can be litter-trained. Rabbits also like to chew and dig, so make sure you bunny-proof your home.

  • 02 of 12


    ferret on a wood floor

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    Ferrets love to play with humans and each other. To accommodate their playful nature, they need as large of a cage as possible, as well as at least four hours of out-of-cage time. Ferrets love to burrow in small spaces and can get into mischief. So make sure your home is ferret-proofed, and supervise their out-of-cage time.

  • 03 of 12


    fancy rat on a couch

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    Rats are friendly, intelligent animals. They tend to be easily tamed and often like to hang out on people's shoulders or laps. It's important to keep rats in same-sex pairs or groups, as they're very social and will suffer if left alone. They need a cage that's at least 2 cubic feet, along with supervised out-of-cage playtime. They're most active at night but will wake for interaction during the day.

  • 04 of 12


    common mouse

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    Mice tend to be happiest with other mice, and their playful antics are fun to watch. While they are skittish, they can be tamed, especially if people handle them regularly and offer food from their hands for encouragement. However, mice are quick and small, so some people might find them difficult to handle. They need a cage that's about 2 cubic feet with multiple levels for climbing.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12


    portrait of a hamster

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    Hamsters can be easily tamed with regular handling. Syrian hamsters are solitary while dwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairs. However, Syrians tend to be easier to handle than the smaller, quicker dwarf hamsters. Hamsters need a cage that's at least 2 cubic feet and equipped with an exercise wheel, items to chew, absorbent bedding, a house, and food and water.

  • 06 of 12

    Guinea Pigs

    guinea pig eating cucumber

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    Guinea pigs are typically social and easy to handle. They're capable of making loud "wheeking" noises. But they're usually not loud enough to disturb neighbors, even in an apartment setting. These rodents need a cage that's at least 2 feet by 3 feet. Height is not critical, as they don't tend to climb. They also appreciate out-of-cage time to socialize, explore, and play.

  • 07 of 12


    Leopard gecko

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    Reptiles are typically not as social as mammals, but they can be good for small spaces. Some lizard species include leopard geckos, crested geckos, house geckos, bearded dragons, and anoles, which all are good for beginners. Corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, and ball pythons also are good options. Aquatic turtles can do fine in an apartment with the right-sized tank. But box turtles and tortoises do best if they have access to outdoor space.

  • 08 of 12


    hedgehog in a person's hands

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    Hedgehogs are most active at night, and they need a cage that's at least 2 feet by 3 feet for exercise. They're typically gentle, and they appreciate supervised out-of-cage time. They're generally solitary and might fight with other hedgehogs. There are some parts of the U.S. where they are illegal or require permits, so check your state laws on exotic pets before you adopt.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12


    small frog in a person's hand

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    Many frog species don't need much space, so they are an ideal choice for small apartments. There are several types of pet frogs: aquatic frogs (African clawed frogs), semi-aquatic frogs (oriental fire-bellied toads), tree frogs (American green tree frogs), and large but sedentary frogs (Pacman frogs). Some male frogs sing, so they're not a completely quiet pet. They are also not suitable for handling, as their skin is too delicate.

  • 10 of 12

    Hermit Crabs

    hermit crab in a shell on sand

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    Hermit crabs are an interesting pet to watch, especially for their distinct personalities, but they are not great for handling. Still, they are social and do best when placed with other hermit crabs. While they need a home that's much larger than the tiny plastic boxes pet shops often sell them in, a 10- to 20-gallon tank should do for a few small crabs.

  • 11 of 12


    a tarantula in a person's palms

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    If you’re a fan of spiders, a pet tarantula can be a fascinating addition to your home. Tarantulas are quiet and typically only need a 5- to 10-gallon aquarium to thrive. Although the venom of pet tarantula species is only mildly toxic and similar to that of a bee sting, this still isn’t a pet that should be handled. 

  • 12 of 12


    Closeup of a gray chinchilla

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    Chinchillas are small rodents with playful personalities. With gentle handling from a young age, they can bond closely with their caretakers—though many still don’t like cuddling. Provide them with the largest cage you can fit (at least 2 feet by 2 feet), as they’re quite active. And keep your home on the cooler side, as their thick fur makes them prone to overheating.

Exotic pets for apartment living illustration
The Spruce / Lisa Fasol