15 Best pets for small apartments

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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If you're currently living in an apartment, you may be craving the companionship of a pet but have limited space to offer. You’ll be glad to hear that your options aren’t as limited as you initially thought. With nearly 70% of households owning a pet, there are tons of animals to choose from that won’t impede on your living space. If you live in a smaller unit or shared space, it is important, however, to choose an apartment-friendly pet that won’t disrupt your neighbors or damage your property. Continue reading for some of the best pets for small apartments and tips for how to best protect your property against unwanted and avoidable accidents or damages.

Remember to jump down to the infographic for additional tips for creating pet-friendly accomodations.

The best pets for small apartments


1.  Dogs


Source: Unsplash / Joe Caione

We all love an adorable pup! With over 60% of households living with these energetic and loving creatures, dogs have proven to be exceptional for apartment living. With proper training and guidance, they’ll be able to provide you with the love and attention you crave without as many headaches.

Remember that these are social animals that need mental stimulation, exercise and obedience. If you live in a smaller space, be sure to make time to take them for walks around your community or to dog parks to let them burn off some energy. Restless dogs tend to act out at home to keep themselves occupied.

Popular breeds:

  • French bulldog
  • Corgi
  • Dachshund

Apartment tip: Invest time crate-training your dog to keep them off furniture. They’ll also be able to use this space as a safe place to rest and relax.


2. Cats


Source: Unsplash / Erik-Jan Leusink

Cats are humble creatures perfect for apartments because of their quietness, size and independent nature. With food, water and a clean litter box, you can leave them by their lonesome for hours. Their affectionate and caring personalities make them great companions, and they also do well with other animals given an appropriate amount of space.

With simple hair brushes and nail trimming, they require much less maintenance than other household pets. All you have to do to make them your best friend is offer tons of toys and a place to sleep (preferably by your side).

Popular breeds:

  • British Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Maine Coon

Apartment tip: Scratching posts are a great distraction for kittens and keep them from destroying furniture around the apartment.


3. Fish


Source: Unsplash / Zheng Wei Lim

Fun fact! Did you know that watching fish swim has proven to lower blood pressure? Accompanied with tons of other health benefits, these pets are the perfect solution for renters looking for a new tiny best friend.

Although fish tend to be a little less maintenance, you'll need to perform routine nitrite, water hardness and pH balance checks. This ensures their environment is safe and habitable. There are also differences in maintenance requirements depending on whether you get a salt- or freshwater fish, so pay attention to that when browsing.

Popular breeds:


  • Goldfish
  • Guppy
  • Betta Fish


  • Clownfish
  • Green Chromis
  • Banggai Cardinalfish

Apartment tip: Aquariums are heavy. Ensure the location of the tank is suitable for its size and weight to prevent it from toppling over.


4. Birds


Source: Unsplash / Elizabeth Rova

People love having birds as pets because of the small amount of space they take up. Some breeds are more vocal than others, but there are birds more inclined for apartment living. Common small birds tend to be inexpensive compared to larger, more exotic breeds. Their size also reduces the amount of maintenance you have to keep up with. With a healthy lifestyle and loving parents, these beautiful pets can live up to 20 years.

Popular breeds:

  • Parakeet
  • Cockatiel
  • Lovebird

Apartment tip: For more vocal birds, hang curtains and place decorative plants around the room to help muffle the noise.


5. Rabbits


Source: Unsplash / Gavin Allanwood

Rabbits are similar to dogs and cats in respect to their high-spirited attitudes and ability to be house-trained. They are suitable for small apartments because of their love for residing in small enclosures not requiring much space. You’ll have to make a point of cleaning that space, however, if you don’t want a stench to develop. And since their teeth don’t stop growing, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of toys and hay to gnaw on for their pleasure.

Popular breeds:

  • Rex Rabbit
  • French Lop
  • Havana

Apartment tip: Neutering or spaying your rabbit will keep them from urinating and pooping all around your apartment.


6. Lizards


Source: Unsplash / Verdian Chua

Lizards are easy to care for. They reside in their tanks and don’t require any walking. With an adequate amount of food, you could leave them for hours on end without worrying about their separation anxiety, unlike a new puppy. They’ve also been known to be more sociable than other pet reptiles like snakes.

Popular breeds:

  • Leopard Gecko
  • Bearded Dragon
  • Green Anole

Apartment tip: Research the type of lizard you have, as many have different requirements when it comes to the humidity and heat control in their enclosure.

7. Hamsters


Source: Unsplash / Kim Green

Aside from keeping their enclosure clean, similar to rabbits, there are no other upkeep requirements for these precious animals. They do benefit from some human interaction so set aside some playtime when you're done with your day. They also thrive in groups, so having a friend to keep them company isn’t a bad idea.

Popular breeds:

  • Syrian Hamster
  • Chinese Hamster
  • Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamster

Apartment tip: Wipe down your hamster’s habitat with soap and water weekly to avoid unwanted smells from spreading throughout your apartment.

8. Ferrets


Source: Unsplash / Steve Tsang

Ferrets take up more room than most small pets because of the size of their cage. By investing in a multilevel home, you'll be able to free up some floor space. These creatures are smart, social and energetic, so set aside time to interact with them regularly. They also do better in groups, so think about getting them a sibling to hang out with.

Keep in mind that ferrets are illegal in some states and some apartment complexes may prohibit you from owning one. Look into your community guidelines and state laws before bringing one into your home.

Apartment tip: Save time on upkeep and cleaning by training your ferret to use a litter box.

9. Chinchillas


Source: Unsplash / Tanya Kusova

Similar to ferrets, chinchillas require a larger amount of space for their cage, although multilevel options are a suitable alternative for apartment dwellers. They have unique needs when it comes to their diet and bathing and the room’s humidity and temperature, but other than that they’re not difficult to care for. Just remember to set aside time to take them out of their cage so they can interact with you and exercise daily.

Apartment tip: It’s best to keep recreational time outside of the cage in contained areas, as these creatures like to chew on anything.

10. Snakes


Source: Unsplash / Waldemar Brandt

Small snakes, such as corn or ringneck snakes, don't have cage requirements like their larger counterparts. They’ll be just fine in any size habitat and you won't have to worry about taking them out for exercise. Valuing their personal space and alone time, the only thing they’ll care about is having a comfortable home and consistent supply of food.

Popular breeds:

  • Ball Python
  • Corn Snake
  • California King Snake

Apartment tip: Explore heat lamps to create a healthy environment for your snake while maintaining a comfortable temperature for yourself.


11. Rats


Source: Unsplash / Joshua J. Cotten

Rats are intelligent and playful creatures perfect for those living in small spaces. You may just need to overcome some natural hesitation. They don’t require a large cage and are naturally quiet, so you won't have to worry about noise complaints. They are also self-groomers, eliminating the need for frequent care. Though skittish at first, you can train them to be more calm and sociable by feeding them by hand and playing with them regularly.

Apartment tip: Rats have a tendency to hoard food. Check their cages for hidden leftovers frequently to avoid unpleasant odors from forming.

12. Hedgehogs


Source: Unsplash / Siem van Woerkom

Hedgehogs are one of the cutest options for those looking for a miniature pet to bring into their home. They’re quiet and produce little dander, making them easy to care for. Hedgehogs are also primarily nocturnal, allowing you to leave them alone during the day without hesitation.

The only downside is that some states have made it illegal to own one or may require you to obtain a permit. It’s best to check with your state's laws and regulations before pursuing.

Popular breeds:

  • African Pygmy Hedgehog
  • Algerian Hedgehog
  • Egyptian Long-Eared Hedgehog

Apartment tip: Cover all small cracks and holes throughout your apartment since these curious animals like to explore when free to roam outside their cage.

13. Frogs


Source: Unsplash / Elizabeth Spencer

If you’re looking for a pet that you can display and look at throughout your day, then a frog may be the perfect option for you. Though generally relaxed and shy, males have a habit of singing in their enclosure, but it won’t be loud enough to disturb surrounding neighbors. An ideal tank would be 10-20 gallons so it won't take up too much of your space.

The only thing you’ll need to worry about maintenance-wise is feeding them a few times a week. Other than that, they make for great company and provide a pleasant distraction if you're bored or home alone.

Popular breeds:

  • Pacman Frog
  • Amazon Milk Frog
  • Red Eyed Tree Frog

Apartment tip: Be conscious about the frog species you get, as some have larger requirements when it comes to the size of their enclosure.

14. Tarantulas


Source: Unsplash / Oleg Didenko

As long as you don’t have a fear, tarantulas can be a captivating addition to your apartment. They are quiet and are similar to frogs as they only require a 10-20 gallon tank for them to be comfortable. Most like to be on their own so you won’t need to provide them with loads of attention.

All you’ll need to remember is to feed them every other day. Other insects will do fine, such as grasshoppers or beetles. They’ll even eat other spiders! Keep in mind their venom is only mildly toxic, but it’s best not to handle your tarantula on your own to avoid any dangerous mishaps.

Popular breeds:

  • Mexican Red-Knee
  • Chilean Rose
  • Costa Rican Zebra

Apartment tip: Remember to handle spiders with care since their anatomy is incredibly fragile. The simplest fall or drop could be fatal for your pet.

15. Hermit crabs


Source: Unsplash / Jan Zikán

Hermit crabs are interesting creatures to have in your home. You’ll watch them bounce from shell to shell interacting with their peers and playing with toys you provide them. It’s recommended to place them in a 10-20 gallon tank in groups of three to keep them occupied and happy. Because they require only a small amount of maintenance, you’ll only have to play with and feed them daily.

Popular breeds:

  • Caribbean Crab
  • Ecuadorian Crab
  • Strawberry Hermit Crab

Apartment tip: Hermit crabs are extremely sensitive to metals. Make sure any items in their tank are silicone, ceramic or plastic.

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How to create a pet-friendly living space

Having a safe and comfortable environment is critical when bringing in a new pet, especially if you’re limited in the amount of space you have. Here are a few tips for creating a pet-friendly living space for your new best friend:

Store away hazardous materials

The last thing you’d want to happen is for your new puppy or kitten to accidentally mistake spilled cleaning products or chemicals for drinking water. To avoid life-threatening accidents like this, store away any hazardous materials around your home. You’ll be able to let your pet freely roam without fearing they'll fall ill because of their curious personality.

Limit knick-knacks

Small household items such as frames, vases and table centerpieces are objects that can be easily knocked over and broken, especially in smaller spaces. If you’re living with an energetic animal, think about limiting the number of items you place on tables and shelves for decoration.

Protect your investments

Bringing a pet into your home comes with loads of fun, excitement and responsibility. There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for unexpected mishaps — though they do happen, whether that's a heavy bowl falling onto your puppy’s head or a ferret accidentally smashing your kitchen mirror. One of the best things you can do is invest in renters insurance and pet insurance. This will financially protect you from overwhelming repair or veterinary costs in the long run.

You can also take some extra time to protect the furniture pieces you’ve put your money into. There are deterrent sprays and protective wraps you can use on chairs and couches to protect them from chewing or scratching.

Cover radiators and vents

We all love having our homes being set to temperatures that make us most comfortable. However, unprotected radiators and vents can lead to pets getting stuck or severely burned. It’s best to cover these items throughout your apartment to guarantee a safe environment for your pet.

Give them space

One thing animals and humans have in common is our appreciation of personal space. Having a designated area for your pet, however small, will keep them from taking up your furniture and getting into your belongings. You won’t have to worry about this for caged animals, but our larger four-legged friends will appreciate the new sense of ownership.

As you can see, there are tons of options when it comes to looking into pets for small apartments. From dogs to tarantulas to ferrets, there is an animal best suited for your personality and lifestyle. Use these ideas and tips to guide your decision and help you find a new loving companion.