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25 Best Pets for an Apartment or a Small House

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

It can be a real challenge to accommodate a pet if you live in a small apartment or house. Today we will look at the 25 best pets that still fit the bill even though you live in a small space.

You will soon find out that there are many small pets that will be more than happy to share your flat, as long as you are able to fit a small cage, a terrarium, or an aquarium in your home.

1. Chinchillas

Image by Benjamin M. Groß from Pixabay

Chinchillas are great pets for apartment dwellers. They are intelligent, furry, and tend to live 15-20 years, which makes them great companions. Chinchillas are a more active species, so you do want to get the biggest cage possible so that they can climb, run, jump, and play. The enclosure should be at least 2 ft x 2ft x 3ft, and they will love time outside of their enclosure once they get to know you a bit.

2. Ferrets

Photo by Steve Tsang on Unsplash

Ferrets are another great option for people who live in apartments or other small spaces. They are small in size and will be perfectly happy sleeping in their cages for long periods of time when you are out and about. If you are going to let your ferret out a lot (though they can be a bit mischievous), you can get a smaller cage, but it should be at least 2 x 3 x 2 feet.

3. Mice

Image by David Hablützel from Pixabay

Mice are one of the smallest rodents that you can own as a pet, which makes them a great option for apartments. They also tend to keep themselves clean and do not require a lot of complicated or difficult care. Mice will also be perfectly happy spending the majority of their time in their enclosure. Generally speaking, a mouse’s enclosure should be 18 x 12 x 12 inches. An enclosure that size should be able to fit on a bookshelf or dresser.

4. Rats

Rats are generally a bit bigger than mice, but they still make great apartment pets. They are also extremely smart creatures and can even be taught tricks. Because rats are social creatures, you generally want to have at least two. You should provide your rats with at least 2 cubic feet per rat, but of course, the more space you can offer, the better. You also want to offer them supervised time out of the cage whenever possible.

5. Gerbils

Image by auenleben from Pixabay

Gerbils are cute, little, loving creatures that do not take up much space, which makes them the perfect pet for those who live in smaller homes and apartments. You want the enclosure to be at least 18 x 24 x 12 inches. Once they get to know you a bit better, you should also let them have some playtime out of their cage every day in a controlled space.

6. Guinea Pigs

Photo by Dan Barrett on Unsplash

Guinea pigs are a little bit larger in size when it comes to rodents, but they still make great apartment pets. If you do not have a shelf or place to put their larger enclosure, you can always put it on the floor or buy a special stand. For just one guinea pig, you need at least 7.5 square feet, but it is generally better to have at least two as they are extremely social creatures.

7. Hedgehogs

Photo by Siem van Woerkom on Unsplash

Because hedgehogs are small and easy to care for, they make great apartment pets. They have relatively simple diets and do not require a ton of exercise. As far as their enclosure goes, the floor should be at least 2 x 3 feet, but they do not climb, so you do not have to worry too much about the height.

8. Degus

Degus are sociable pets, so they will do better if you are home more and can have them out of their enclosures, but they are small, so they do not need a huge house or space to exercise all day. As far as their enclosure goes, it needs to be at least 2 x 2 x 2 feet, but if they are not going to spend a lot of time out of their enclosure, bigger is better and multilevel cages are best. If you are going to be gone a lot, you likely are going to want to get at least two, so they can keep each other company.

9. Rabbits

Image by rachyt73 from Pixabay

Many breeds of rabbits like plenty of time outside of their enclosures in addition to requiring slightly larger cages than some other species on this list, but because of their size, rabbits still make great apartment pets. If you can clear out a corner or a room for your rabbit’s enclosure, that would probably be best. They will need at least 8 square feet for their enclosure and plenty of time to run around and play outside of that each day.

Best Aquarium Pets for an Apartment or a Small House

10. Fish

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Fish range a lot when it comes to size and needs, but most common pet fish are really easy to take care of. A general rule of thumb is that you need one gallon of water per inch of fish. With this rule, you will be able to fit a few small fish in a ten-gallon tank.

See also: 12 Best Beginner Fish for Freshwater Aquariums

11. Axolotl

Image by Joaquín Enríquez from Pixabay

Axolotls need a tank that is at least 20 gallons, and you will need to make sure the lid is secure because they do try to jump out of their aquariums at times. Axolotls are really fun pets to own, but they do not take up to much space at all.

12. Sea Horses

Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay

Sea horses are a little bit more complicated than fish or axolotls when it comes to everyday care, but they are really cool pets to have. Their enclosures should be at least 20-30 gallons, but sea horses prefer tall tanks rather than long tanks, which means it may be easier to find a space on a small table or desk.

13. Hermit Crabs

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

While hermit crabs do need more space than the tiny plastic containers they often come in, they really do not need that much. Generally speaking, a couple of hermit crabs will be happy in a five-gallon tank. You just need to make sure you give them extra shells to change into.

14. Turtles

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While you do not want any huge breeds of turtles or tortoises, you may be able to keep a smaller turtle in your apartment. A turtle that is 4 to 6 inches long when fully grown will need a thirty-gallon tank, which makes them the best option for apartments. If you have a little bit more space, a turtle that grows up to eight inches will be fine in a 55-gallon tank. However, if your turtle is going to grow longer than 8 inches, you will need a much larger tank (75 -125 gallons.)

15. Finch

Image by Mohamed Nuzrath from Pixabay

You will need to get multiple finches to keep your pets happy, but as long as you have a roomy flight cage for them, they are easy pets to own. They are rather quiet and do not require (or enjoy) much handling at all. You generally want a cage that is at least three feet tall, but bigger is better if you have the space. They will also need 3-4 square feet of floor space for a pair.

16. Dove

Photo by Garfield Besa from Pexels

If you would rather have a bird that enjoys interacting with humans, a dove may be a great option for you. They enjoy spending time with their caretakers and being handled, but they are also perfectly happy spending most of their day entertaining themselves. They need a similar cage size to finches (at least three feet tall and 3-4 square feet of floor space), but they will also need a couple of hours of exercise outside of their cage each day.

17. Canary

Image by natalielira from Pixabay

Canaries are related to finches, so they also have similar cage size requirements, though you may be able to get away with a slightly shorter cage if you have to and can offer them plenty of toys. As long as you get at least a pair of canaries, they will be perfectly happy spending most of their time in their cage playing with toys and each other.

18. Tarantulas

Image by Gerd Dietrich-Rosenbrock from Pixabay

Tarantulas are great pets if you live in an apartment or small home and do not want to spend a ton of time caring for and entertaining your pet. They eat very little and can go days without food. They are extremely low maintenance and need very little attention as long as you provide them with a small terrarium with space to roam and a few crickets a week to munch on. As far as space goes, tarantulas need floor space that is three to four times their leg span. Tarantulas tend to range from 2 to 10 inches long, so small breeds will only require very small tanks.

Related: 10 Best Beginner Tarantulas That Are Easy To Care For

19. Bearded Dragons

Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

Bearded dragons take a little bit more work than tarantulas but they still make great apartment pets. It is relatively easy to care for a bearded dragon as long as you provide them with proper lighting, diet, and plenty of water. They are also extremely smart and even show affection to their owners. When it comes to space, bearded dragons do best in 55-75 gallon tanks which are larger than some other options on this list but still doable. They also will enjoy exploring your home when you let them out of their enclosure, no matter how big or small it is.

20. Geckos

Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

Geckos are not the most sociable animals, but they may occasionally interact with you and they are very entertaining to watch. Geckos come in a wide variety of different colors and patterns, and they have a huge range when it comes to size (1 to 24 inches) depending on the species, which will affect how much space they need. For most gecko breeds, your tank will need to be at least ten gallons, but larger breeds could need significantly more.

21. Snakes

Photo by Sergey Semin on Unsplash

There are tons of different kinds of snakes, but many breeds make great small home and apartment pets. Most snakes do not need much space or time outside of their enclosures (though some do enjoy being held and carried around). Most smaller snakes are going to need a tank between 10 and 20 gallons, while larger but still apartment-friendly snakes may need enclosures that are close to 30-55 gallons. There are some huge, exotic snakes that are not great for apartments, but most people would not be looking for those species anyways.

See also: 12 Best Pet Snakes for Beginners

22. Lizards

Photo by verdian chua on Unsplash

We have already talked about two of the more well-known and easier-to-care-for lizard species (geckos and bearded dragons), but lizards, in general, tend to be apartment friendly. Most are perfectly happy spending most of their time in their enclosures and there are tons of relatively small lizard species. It is important to know that some lizards have more complicated needs than geckos or bearded dragons do, but if you only have space for a ten-gallon tank, there are lots of different lizard species that may be perfect for you.

Read also: 20 Best beginner Reptiles and Amphibians

23. Chameleons

Image by AQgraphy from Pixabay

Chameleons are a really fun pet to own, and they tend to be small enough that you can keep them in your apartment or even bedroom if you want, though the sound of their food chirping through the night could get annoying. Standard chameleons tend to grow up to 9 inches in length. As far as their enclosures, they generally need a screened or well-ventilated tank that they can climb. It should be a minimum of 2 x 2 x 4 feet, which is completely reasonable even in most apartments, though you may need to be a separate stand for it.

24. Toads & Frogs

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

While there are some larger breeds of toads and frogs that need a good bit of space, most are relatively small and do not need much space at all. In fact, most frogs and toads are perfectly content in a 10 to 15-gallon tank which can easily fit on a bookshelf or table. Keep in mind that some frogs and toads do make a good bit of noise which could be frustrating when you are in a smaller apartment or home and cannot get away.

25. Scorpions

Scorpions are definitely not cuddly pets, but they can be really interesting to watch, and they are relatively low-maintenance. There are a variety of different breeds, but most scorpions only grow to be a few inches long, so most will be perfectly happy in a ten-gallon tank. Furthermore, some smaller varieties may only need five gallons, which makes them really great pets if you do not have a ton of space to offer.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Pet For a Small Space

  • Size of Pet: Generally speaking, smaller pets are going to do better than larger pets in smaller places. Smaller pets need less space to roam either in your apartment or their habitat, and they tend to make less noise. On the other hand, bigger pets tend to need lots of space to exercise and may end up feeling unhappy if you only have limited space to offer them.
  • Size of Habitat: Most of the time, animals that live in terrariums or aquariums make great small-space pets. However, there are some that require really large tanks, terrariums, or cages. Before buying a pet, you need to figure out what sized habitat it requires and whether or not you have room for it in your home/apartment.
  • Smell: Although the smell of a lot of pets can be managed with regular cleaning and care, there are some species that tend to smell more than others. For instance, some people find birds to be particularly smelly pets. While the smell may be manageable if you have lots of space, it can be overwhelming if you are stuck in the same few rooms all day.
  • Noise: Noisy animals have the potential to annoy both you and your neighbors, especially if you are living in an apartment. For this reason, when you have limited space, you generally want to focus on the quieter animals. Loud dogs, big birds, etc., may not be a great option for you right now.
  • Nocturnal: If your animal is living in or near your bedroom, you might want to avoid the nocturnal ones. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to sleep while your hamster is running at top speed on his wheel.
  • Activity Level: Different breeds and species of animals have different activity levels. For instance, some birds are really energetic, love being handled, and need time to fly around outside of their cages during the day, while other birds are perfectly content hanging around most of the time. It is important that you consider how much time you have to exercise your animal before making a purchase.
  • Needed Space: When it comes to the amount of space you need for your pet, there are two main things that you need to consider. First, how much space do you need for their habitat? You also want to consider if there are any special requirements when it comes to where it is. For instance, some animals will need to be near an outlet for things like heating lamps, and others may need to be away from any direct sunlight. Second, you need to consider how much space the animal needs outside the habitat to roam, exercise and explore.

References and further reading:

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.