12 Best Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

Many exotic pets are compact, quiet, and don't require outdoor space. Some are just as fun and loving as traditional pets like dogs or cats. The best pets for apartment living do not disrupt nearby neighbors or damage your home. Take a look at 12 exotic pets and why they are suitable for apartments, condominiums, and other smaller living spaces.

Tip

Local laws also might prohibit certain exotic animals. Know which species you can keep in your town or city before bringing them home.

Exotic pets for apartment living illustration
The Spruce / Lisa Fasol 
  • 01 of 12

    Rabbits

    rabbit on a bed

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    There are nearly 50 breeds of rabbits that people like to keep as a pet. Most are social animals that want to keep you company. Rabbits are a suitable option for apartment living since they can be litter-box trained, groom themselves, and are relatively quiet. Many people allow their rabbits to roam free in their homes, which is a good way for them to get exercise. One drawback to keeping rabbits is that they like to chew and dig. You will need to bunny-proof your home by making sure there are no exposed cords and only allowing the rabbit to roam in carpet or rug-free rooms.

    Species Overview

    Length: 9 to 17 inches

    Weight: 2 pounds to 16 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Small and furry mammals with long ears, short fluffy tails, and strong, large hind legs; coats can vary in color from whites to browns, grays, and black, and by fur length, from short to long

  • 02 of 12

    Ferrets

    ferret on a wood floor

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    Ferrets love to play with humans and each other. To accommodate their playful nature, give them a cage that is at least 2 feet long and wide and about 4 feet tall. They make excellent apartment dwellers because they sleep most of the day while the owner is away for the day. They are quiet creatures but also like to hide and get into mischief. You will need to make sure your home is ferret-proofed to prevent escapes or unsafe hiding spots (like in the oven).

    Species Overview

    Length: 13 to 16 inches long

    Weight: Up to 3 1/2 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Common variations include white, sable, cinnamon, and chocolate-colored slinky bodies with white foreheads, muzzles, and throats; black feet

  • 03 of 12

    Rats

    fancy rat on a couch

    Photography by Peter A. Kemmer/Getty Images

    Rats are friendly, quiet, intelligent animals. Their small size and relatively easy care make them perfect for smaller homes. Their cage needs are not too demanding—about 2 cubic feet. They tend to be easily tamed and often like to hang out on people's shoulders or laps. Rats will likely sleep most of the day if you leave the house during the day. They are most active at night but will wake for interaction during the day.

    Species Overview

    Length: 9 to 11 inches, plus a tail of 7 to 9 inches

    Weight: Up to 2 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Slender bodied with a pointed head, large eyes, and prominent, thinly furred ears; colors variations include brown, black, tan, gray, white, Siamese, blue, silver black, silver fawn, lilac, cinnamon, black-eyed white, cinnamon pearl, lynx, silver agouti, silver lilac, and blaze

  • 04 of 12

    Mice

    common mouse

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    Mice do not require a lot of space or a large cage. Their size requirements are just one of the reasons why they make great pets for small spaces. They are also quiet, fastidious self groomers, and they are relatively easy to care for. They are also intelligent, and their playful antics are fun to watch. While they are skittish, they can be tamed if handled regularly and hand-fed.

    Species Overview

    Length: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 1 to 2 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail; color variations include brown, black, tan, gray, and albino

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Hamsters

    portrait of a hamster

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    No-pet apartment leases usually allow hamsters, and they are an ideal apartment pet since they do not require a lot of space. They are quiet, clean, low maintenance, and don't shed. Most allergy sufferers can live comfortably with a hamster in the house. Hamsters are easy to tame with regular handling. All a hamster needs is a 2-cubic-feet cage equipped with an exercise wheel, items to chew, absorbent bedding, a hiding spot, food, and water.

    Species Overview

    Length: 2 to 13 inches

    Weight: 0.5 ounce to 10 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Short tails, stubby legs, and small ears; color variations include black, grey, brown, white, yellow, red, or a mixture of several colors

  • 06 of 12

    Guinea Pigs

    guinea pig eating cucumber

    Jasmin Sachtleben/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Guinea pigs crave socialization and are typically easy to handle They make a "wheek" sound as a vocalization, but it is not loud enough to disturb neighbors in an apartment setting. Their enclosures are also a manageable size. At the minimum, these rodents need a cage that has a 2- foot by 3-foot footprint. Height is not critical; they don't tend to climb, so it does not need to be taller than a foot or 18 inches. They appreciate out-of-cage time to socialize, explore, and play. Like other pets that you allow to roam in your home, make sure there are no exposed wires or wooden fixtures.

    Species Overview

    Length: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 1.5 to 2.5 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Small, stout bodies with no tail, a large head with large and alert eyes, strong, short legs with four toes on their front feet and three on the back, all with sharp claws; color variations include black, beige, chocolate, cream, cinnamon, gold, lemon, lilac, red, silver, and white

  • 07 of 12

    Reptiles

    Leopard gecko

    Fernando Trabanco Fotografía/Getty Images

    Reptiles like smaller lizards and snakes are not as social as mammals, but they can be good for small spaces. They make no noise and are relatively easy to care for. Lizard species that are good for beginners include leopard geckos, crested geckos, house geckos, bearded dragons, and anoles. Snake species that do not require large enclosures include corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, and ball pythons.

    Species Overview

    Length: 1 inch to 24 inches (smaller lizard species); up to 6 feet (common pet snakes)

    Weight: 0.5 ounce to 1 pound (smaller lizards); 1 to 5 pounds (common pet snakes)

    Physical Characteristics: Cold-blooded; scales instead of skin; come in a variety of colors

  • 08 of 12

    Hedgehogs

    hedgehog in a person's hands

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    Hedgehogs do not need a vast cage; a good size for an enclosure is at least 2 feet by 3 feet. Primarily nocturnal, they will not mind if you are away during the day. Hedgehogs are quiet and produce very little dander, making them the right pet for people with allergies. They're typically gentle and generally solitary. A drawback is that there are some parts of the U.S. where they are illegal or require permits; check your state laws on exotic pets before you adopt one.

    Species Overview

    Length: 5 to 8 inches

    Weight: 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Cone-shaped faces, short legs, bodies covered in spikey hair called spines (looks like porcupine quills), can roll into a ball

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Frogs

    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. The ideal tank size for most frogs is a 10-gallon or 20-gallon tank. If you are looking for a pet to look at and display, then this is the right choice for you. They are also a low maintenance pet; only eating a few times a week. 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, but the sound is not loud enough to offend the neighbors.

    Species Overview

    Length: 1 to 13 inches

    Weight: 1 ounce to 6 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Two bulging eyes; strong, long, webbed hind feet used for leaping and swimming; smooth or slimy skin; colors are varied

  • 10 of 12

    Hermit Crabs

    hermit crab in a shell on sand

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    Hermit crabs are a low-commitment pet. They are great for apartment living since they make no noise, are hypoallergenic, and low-maintenance. Hermit crabs are interesting to watch; they move from one shell to another. They are social and do best when placed with other hermit crabs. House them in a 10- to 20-gallon tank.

    Species Overview

    Length: 4 to 6 inches

    Weight: 7 to 18 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Outer shell; 10 jointed legs, the front two are of different sizes; large left claw is used for defense; smaller right claw scoops food and water

  • 11 of 12

    Tarantulas

    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. They are low maintenance, only need food every other day or so, and do not mind if you are not around much. Although the venom of pet tarantula is only mildly toxic (similar to a bee sting), you should not handle it. 

    Species Overview

    Length: 2 to 10 inches

    Weight: 1 to 3 ounces

    Physical Characteristics: Hairy bodies with long, hairy legs; two visible fangs; most are brown, although some varieties are cobalt blue, black with white stripes, or multicolored

  • 12 of 12

    Chinchillas

    Closeup of a gray chinchilla

    Ania Tomcyzk/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Chinchillas are small rodents with playful personalities. They make good apartment dwellers since they are clean and relatively odor-free. They are nocturnal, so if you are not home during the day, they will not miss you much. With gentle handling from a young age, they can bond closely with you. House them in a cage that is at least 2 feet by 2 feet.

    Species Overview

    Length: 9 to 15 inches

    Weight: 1 to 2 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Large, black eyes and bushy tails; luxuriously soft; silver, yellow-gray, bluish-gray, white, beige and black fur

Exotic Pets to Avoid

Exotic pets can be beautiful, unique, and some can be trained to do tricks, talk, or retrieve items for you. Generally, pets that require a large enclosure and outside-of-cage time like parrots need a space more extensive than a small apartment for free-flying. Some birds like macaws and Amazons are too loud, known for disrupting the neighbors.

Monkeys are exciting, but a significant downside is they need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. Primates often fulfill their enrichment requirements by destroying property or wreaking havoc in your house. Similarly, pets like pot-bellied pigs might be naturally inclined to burrow and damage a rental property. Aquatic turtles may be OK to keep in an apartment as babies, but they can grow very large and may require a tank that is at least 120 gallons, which can be a drain on space.

Article Sources
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  1. 5 Perfect Pets for Kids with Allergies. Riley Children's Health at Indiana University