9 Best Exotic Pets For Small Apartment Living

Updated April 11, 2022
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Dogs are always slated as “man’s best friend,” but what if your apartment doesn’t allow dogs? Or what if you live in a small space that can only support equally as small pets?

Thankfully, there’s a whole world to explore beyond cats and dogs. Exotic apartment pets are often the perfect solution for renters who would benefit from owning a pet but live in small spaces. You don’t have to sacrifice fuzzy (or scaly) companionship if more conventional pets aren’t in the picture. 

Keep in mind that each apartment has different pet restrictions, and it’s up to the tenant to learn about what types of pets are allowed in their unit. When in doubt, check your lease or contact your property manager!

Best Apartment Friendly Pets for Small Spaces

Let’s learn more about the 9 best exotic pets for small apartments:

  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Snakes
  • Ferrets
  • Rats
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hedgehogs
  • Turtles
  • Bearded Dragons

1) Rabbits

exotic apartment pets- small gray bunny rabbit with floppy ears

Rabbits are some of the best house pets you can have. Not only are they incredibly soft and adorable, but they’re great for apartment living because they:

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  • Groom themselves
  • Can be litter-box trained
  • Are pretty quiet

Rabbits are usually safe to roam free through the apartment with one caveat: You’ll need to “rabbit-proof” your living space. Since rabbits are known to chew and dig, you’ll need to hide exposed cords and only let your rabbit roam in areas that are carpet or rug-free.

There are nearly 50 breeds of rabbits, and you’ll find them in a wide variety of colors and fur lengths. You’ll love having this small, social creature around.

2) Hamsters

exotic apartment pets- tan hamster with pink nose in a blue wire cage with a blue spinning wheel in the back of the cage

Even apartments that don’t allow pets will usually allow hamsters. Since hamsters don’t require very much space and can mostly remain in their cage, they are ideal for small apartments.

Owning a hamster is fairly low maintenance. You’ll just have to stay on top of food & water levels and clean their cage frequently. One big perk of hamsters is that they don’t shed, so many people with allergies can usually live comfortably with one.

All you’ll need to care for a hamster is a 2-cubic-foot cage with the following supplies inside:

  • Food
  • Water dispenser
  • Absorbent bedding
  • Exercise wheel
  • Things to chew on
  • A hiding spot

3) Snakes

apartment friendly pets - small yellow and black corn snake being held by a woman

Don’t be scared, but certain breeds of snakes make wonderful apartment pets. Snake species that don’t require big enclosures include:

  • Milk snakes
  • Corn snakes
  • King snakes
  • Ball pythons

These snake species are fairly docile, small, and easy to care for. However, keep in mind that snake cages often need special heating lamps. Also note that snakes need to feed on prey (usually mice), so if you’re not comfortable with that, then a snake is probably not the best exotic pet for you.

4) Ferrets

apartment friendly pets - two small white and brown ferrets peeking out of a pet door

Ferrets are devastatingly cute and very playful. Since they are so playful and active, they require a very large cage. Ferrets love to be let out of their cage to play with humans, but be aware that they also tend to hide and cause mischief.

Just like with rabbits, you’ll need to “ferret-proof” your apartment to prevent them from escaping or hiding in unsafe places. Ferrets do best in pairs because they’re very social animals, so don’t plan on getting this pet unless you can accommodate owning two.

5) Rats

apartment friendly pets - gray and white rat with pink ears, nose, and hands being fed a treat

Did you know that rats are incredibly intelligent? In fact, they fall into the top 10 most intelligent animals on earth. Rats make great pets because they’re so friendly and relatively quiet. Even though they’re most active at night, they’ll still interact with you during the day.

While some people find rats to be their worst nightmare, others love that they’re social and easy to care for. Rats do best when they have plenty of interaction with their human owner. Since they’re so intelligent, you can even train your rat to hang out on your shoulders or lap! You can often find rats at pet stores or up for adoption at your local humane society.

6) Guinea Pigs

apartment friendly pet gerbils - one black and white, one tan and white cuddling in a blanket

Guinea pigs are other lovable and soft creatures that make great apartment-friendly exotic pets. These small animals work well in smaller apartments, but they do require a cage that spans about 7 or 8 feet. (Cage height isn’t super important— 12-18 inches is great.)

A pet guinea pig isn’t loud enough to disturb your neighbors, but you will frequently notice it making a cute “squeak” sound. These pets are very social and appreciate time outside of their cage to play with you and explore. Just be sure to hide wires and keep them away from wooden furniture.

Guinea pigs come in many colors, including:

  • Black
  • Beige
  • Cinnamon
  • Lilac
  • White
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Multicolor

7) Hedgehogs

apartment friendly pygmie hedgehog being held in a mans hands

Calling all people with allergies! If you’ve always dreamed of owning a pet but didn’t want to trigger your allergies, hedgehogs are the perfect solution for you. These exotic animals are simply adorable, even though they’re covered in quills.

Don’t be intimidated by their quills, though. They won’t hurt you once you adjust to handling them in a gentle way. The quills tend to lay flat along hedgehogs’ backs, so as long as you don’t push against the sharp edges, hedgehogs don’t pose any danger.

These gentle pets are solitary animals, and you can own just one hedgehog since they don’t get separation anxiety. Keep in mind that hedgehogs are illegal to own in certain states, or they might require a special permit. Reference state laws on exotic pets before getting your sights set on a hedgehog.

8) Turtles

Turtles are quiet, shy animals that many people enjoy having as pets. There are many different species of turtles that are popular as pets, including:

  • Red-eared slider
  • African sideneck turtle
  • Eastern box turtle
  • Western painted turtle
  • Yellow-bellied slider

Turtles are very cute, but leaving them in the care of children isn’t recommended. Children are more likely to mishandle them, causing stress to the turtle. Additionally, aquatic turtles can carry salmonella, which can be transferred to children if they don’t practice good hygiene.

Since turtles are so quiet, they make ideal apartment pets. Just do plenty of research beforehand because turtles require specialized equipment for their care, and some breeds may live up to 100 years!

9) Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are nicknamed “beardies” and are growing more and more popular as apartment pets. They’re typically a light tan or brown color and have long, thick tails and unique beard-like collars around their necks.

Bearded dragons are friendly and make great pets, even for people who haven’t owned reptiles before. However, they do require very specific environmental needs, such as:

  • A 55 to 75-gallon tank with a secure screen top
  • Rocks, branches, and logs to climb on
  • Hiding spots
  • Heating lamp & exposure to UV light
  • Humidity levels of 35-40%
  • Insects and vegetables for food

As you can tell, bearded dragons require a lot of specialized care. If you’re able to handle its specific needs, you may enjoy caring for this social and friendly creature.

Find the Perfect Apartment for You and Your Small Exotic Pets

Apartments aren’t necessarily known for being ideal places to raise pets. But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you feel comfortable in your space, there’s no reason not to adopt a pet to care for— just remember to check with your property manager before getting your heart set on a new animal companion.

Many apartment managers are sticklers about not allowing any pets. But not at Bigos. Almost all of our apartments are pet-friendly. Check out our pet policy here! We look forward to welcoming you and your furry (or scaly) friend home. Check out our available units in the Twin Cities metro today!

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