The Best Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

No Apartment Is Too Small for These Exotic Pets

Because many exotic pets are compact, quiet and don't require outdoor space, they can be a good choice for apartment living. However, you should always check your tenant or homeowner's agreements to find out what pets are permitted before choosing an exotic pet for your apartment. 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!).

Exotic pets for apartment living illustration
 Lisa Fasol ©. The Spruce 2019

Once you are all clear to choose an exotic pet, figure out what you want in a pet and what kind of space you have. We found the best cute and compact animals to welcome into your small space.


Watch Now: Wildly Exotic Animals That You Can Have as a Pet

  • 01 of 16


    Coco Lapin

    François Dorothé/Getty Images

    Rabbits are social animals, but often do not like to be held. However, they're always happy to be near their humans. Although it might take a bit of effort, rabbits can also be litter trained so they can have time out of the cage (some house bunnies are fully free range). Rabbits also like to chew and dig, so if you're letting your rabbit roam around your home, make sure you put effort into training and rabbit-proofing to prevent future damage. If their time out of the cage is limited, rabbits will need a fairly large cage, so it's important you have a big enough space to accommodate.

    Before you adopt a rabbit into your home, they must be spayed and neutered for health reasons and to cut down territorial marking behavior.

  • 02 of 16


    Ferret Resting On Hardwood Floor

    Nadja Schilling/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Ferrets are active, social, and love to play (with humans and each other) during the day. To accommodate their playful behavior, they'll need quite a large cage in addition to time outside of the cage to release their energy. However, ferrets love the burrow in small spaces and can get into mischief, so make sure your home is ferret-proofed, supervised, and that your ferret is litter trained before letting them out of their cage.

    Before you adopt a ferret, they must be spayed and neutered as it's critical for the health of females; most ferrets already are by the time they are sold as pets, but make sure you double check with your vet.

  • 03 of 16


    Fancy rat perches on seat of black leather chair

    Photography by Peter A. Kemmer/Getty Images

    Rats are friendly and responsive pets. They are easily tamed and often like to hang out on peoples' shoulders or laps. It's important to keep rats in same-sex pairs or groups and will need a fairly large cage in addition to playtime out of the cage. They tend to be most active at night, but can 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

    Mice are social and happiest with other mice as their playful antics are fun to watch. They are most active at night and can be tamed. However, they are quick and small, so they may not be as easy to handle as larger rodents.

    For apartment living, consider a group of female mice--males tend to have a stronger odor, which may not be ideal for small spaces. A small group of mice can make do without a huge cage, making this rodent perfect for apartment living. They do not need extra exercise outside of a well-equipped cage and won't need a lot of attention if kept in pairs or groups.

    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. Although they're most active at night, hamsters can be easily tamed and handled with regular attention. However, Syrians tend to be a bit easier to handle than smaller and quicker dwarf hamsters.

    Hamsters do not need much space or a very large cage, so they're good for small spaces. However, with a decent sized cage and the right accessories, hamsters don't need exercise out of the cage and can be entertaining to watch.

  • 06 of 16


    Two Gerbils in Aquarium

    Richard Hutchings/Getty Images

    Gerbils are social and can be easily tamed and handled. They do best in same-sex pairs or groups due to their social nature. Gerbils are also active off and on throughout the day and night, so you won't have to worry about a nocturnal animal keeping you up at night.

    Gerbils can get by without a huge cage, so they are reasonable for small spaces. With a good sized cage they won't need playtime outside of the cage, and their social antics are fun to watch.

  • 07 of 16

    Guinea Pigs

    Close-Up Of Guinea Pig Eating Cucumber On Floorboard

    Jasmin Sachtleben/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Guinea Pigs are social and easy to handle. They are capable of making loud "wheeking" noises, especially if they are looking for food. They are not always vocal, but they are not as quiet as most of the other pets on this list.

    This rodent will need a large cage and do best kept in same-sex groups. However, even with a large cage, Guinea Pigs will appreciate time out of the cage to socialize, explore, and play.

  • 08 of 16


    Leopard Gecko

    Fernando Trabanco Fotografía/Getty Images

    There are a wide variety of different reptiles you can adopt depending on space and your budget. Reptiles are typically not as socially responsive as mammals but can be a good choice for first-time pet owners and small spaces.

    Leopard geckos, crested geckos, house geckos, bearded dragons, and anoles are good choices for beginners and smaller spaces.

    Corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, and ball pythons are all good choices for both beginners and smaller spaces. However, be extra careful-snakes can escape easily and you will not be popular with your neighbors if your snake gets out.

    Turtles are not the best choices for apartment living. If you have a larger tank, aquatic turtles would do okay, but box turtles and tortoises do best if they can have access to a yard or outdoor space for additional playtime.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16


    Close-Up Portrait Of Chinchilla

    Ania Tomczyk/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Chinchillas are social and easy to tame, though may not like to be held and cuddled as much as just being near you. They will need a fairly large cage in addition to playtime outside the cage.

    Chinchillas also enjoy routine and quiet time during the day as they are most active in the evening and early morning.

  • 10 of 16


    Degu on hand

    Ales Veluscek/Getty Images

    Degus are social rodents that can be easily tamed and handled and are most active during the day. They do best when kept in same-sex pairs or groups and will need a large cage and plenty of opportunity for exercise.

  • 11 of 16


    Baby Hedgehog

    Kimu_tae/Getty Images

    Hedgehogs are most active at night and can be easily handled and taken out of the cage for exercise. They need a decent sized cage, but won't need a whole lot of space as they are generally solitary.

    Although they are legal to own in most states, there are some states where they are illegal or require permits to keep as pets. Check your state laws for owning exotic pets before you adopt.

  • 12 of 16

    Sugar Gliders

    A sugar glider joey (baby) climbing up the mirror

    Kristina Parchomchuk/Getty Images

    Sugar Gliders are social and bond well with owners if handled starting from a young age. Due to their social nature, Sugar Gliders 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). It also may be difficult to keep up with their nutritional needs, so educate yourself beforehand so you can give your new pet everything they need. 

    Because they are active and playful sugar gliders will need a large cage, but keep in mind that height is more important than floor space.

    There are some states where owning a Sugar Glider is illegal or requires permits. Check your state laws for owning exotic pets before you adopt.

    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, so they are an ideal choice for small apartments. They are several types of frogs you can adopt: 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), and large but sedentary frogs (pacman frogs).

    It's important to note that some males may sing, so they are not a fully quiet choice. They are also not suitable for handling as their skin is too sensitive and delicate.

  • 14 of 16

    Hermit Crabs

    Hermit crab in a shell, Maldives

    David Fettes/Getty Images

    Hermit Crabs are an Interesting pet to watch but are not great for handling. They are social, so they will do best when placed with other hermit crabs.

    Hermit Crabs will need a larger tank than most pet stores sell for crabs, but a 10-20 gallon tank should do for a few smaller crabs.

  • 15 of 16

    Fire Bellied Newts

    Wild Japanese fire belly newt

    Ippei Naoi/Getty Images

    Fire Bellied Newts are mostly aquatic and will need an aquarium that is part water, part land. They are easy to care for and have beautiful, striking colors that are fun to watch, but not suitable for handling.

  • 16 of 16


    Detail Shot Of Spider

    Sascha Lorenz/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Tarantulas are a bit more of an adventurous choice but are 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!

    Tarantulas are also not suitable for handling, mostly due to the risk of injury to the tarantula.