Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

12 Best Small Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

Do you live in an apartment or small house with limited space? Do you wish there was a way that you could still own a pet? Good news. There are options for you. Here, our Southern Wisconsin vets share 12 of the best small exotic pets that can make a great addition when living in an apartment.

What are the best small exotic pets for apartment living?

Most people love having an animal companion to share their home with. But, sometimes traditional pets such as cats and dogs might not be suitable for a person's lifestyle, especially if you live in an apartment. Other reasons a cat or dog may not be suitable include lack of access to a yard, allergies, a busy lifestyle, or personal preference!

While some of the pets below are fascinating and great pets to have, you need to do your research on the requirements for these pets and find out if you need a permit to own one in your state.

Here are 12 small exotic mammals that make great pets for apartment living:


Did you know there are approximately 50 breeds of rabbits that people can adopt? They are small and quiet exotic pets that love to be cuddled and keep their owners company. They are also litter-trained, so they don't need outdoor access. You can even provide your rabbit with exercise by letting them wander free around your home.

However, rabbits love to dig and chew, so make sure your apartment is bunny-proof and ensure they can't access any electrical cords.  


Ferrets are very playful, quiet pets that will spend most of their day sleeping while you are gone. They also require a large cage, so they have enough space to play in.

You also need to be careful of their mischievous nature. Ensure your home is ferret-proof by making sure it can't escape and by blocking off potential hazardous hiding spots, such as the oven. You may require a permit to own one in your state.


These little critters are intelligent, friendly, and quiet! They could be great pets for apartment owners because they are small and can be tamed fairly easily. They also tend to enjoy sitting on their owner's lap or shoulders. Their cage only needs to be approximately 2 cubic feet per rat.

Because they spend most of their time sleeping during the day, they are most active at night. But if you want to spend time with this little pet, all you need to do is wake them.


Hamsters generally make good apartment pets because they are small and don't need a lot of space. They are quiet, don't shed, and are relatively clean. People with allergies can typically be comfortable if they have a hamster in their home. They can also be tamed relatively easily if you handle them regularly.

For their enclosure, they require 2 cubic feet of space as well as a hamster wheel, a place to hide, absorbent bedding, and food and water. 

Leopard Geckos

Leopard geckos are one of the most popular pets among lizard owners because of their friendly nature and beautiful spotted patterns. You can also feed them easily with insects that are readily prepared at most pet stores. They also usually enjoy being handled and socializing with their human owners over other lizards.

They can be great for apartment dwellers because they don't generally need a big tank, 10 gallons is typically enough, however, they do better in tanks that are 15 to 20 liters. And, while their tank has to be kept at a certain temperature they don't typically need a UVB lamp like other reptiles.

It's very important to wash your hands after handling leopard geckos because they can transmit salmonella to you.

Bearded Dragons

These reptiles have a reputation for being docile and friendly. They are even excellent lizards for beginner exotic pet owners because they are easy to keep. While they do require an adequately sized habitat, they don't grow very big and can live comfortably in an apartment. And, yes bearded dragons are legal to own in most states!

However, they can also spread salmonella to owners who don't practice excellent handwashing habits. And, they require some effort when it comes to their feeding, including live insects and prepared fresh vegetables.


These nocturnal, small exotic pets are quiet and good for people with allergies because they don't produce a lot of dander. They are also generally solitary and gentle. And their cage only needs to be two feet by three feet.

However, it's important to keep in mind that you might require a permit to adopt this adorable critter. Some states are strict about the ownership of hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs can carry salmonella bacteria, which means that you should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your hedgehog, its cage, or its bedding.


If you live in a small apartment but are interested in having a pet to look at and care for then a frog may be right for you. They don't need a lot of space as most frogs only need a 10 or 20-gallon tank and are low maintenance, only needing to be fed a few times a week.

You do need to do your research on the pet frog you want, as there are many types to choose from, such as aquatic frogs, tree frogs, and sedentary frogs. Some male frogs also sing, but it usually isn't loud enough to disturb neighbors.

Hermit Crabs

These low-maintenance small exotic pets are perfect for apartment living because they make no noise and are hypoallergenic, making them a good choice for people with allergies. Hermit crabs can be interesting to watch as they move between shells, and if your tank is big enough, they can do well with another hermit crab tankmate.

If you choose to keep hermit crabs as pets you should provide them with a 10 to 20-gallon tank.


Chinchillas are a great choice for those living in apartments as they are small, quiet, and fairly clean pets. If you gently handle them from a young age, they can form a close bond with you, and since they are nocturnal, chinchillas will spend most of the day sleeping.

We recommend keeping your chinchilla friend in an enclosure that is at least two feet long.


Millipedes are probably the oddest pet choice on this list, but they require minimal space and are relatively easy to take care of. The African giant millipede is the most common type of millipede, which can grow to be as large as 10 inches long. While they aren't made for cuddling, you can easily pick them up to handle them with no worry of bites. Their feeding requirements include calcium supplements, fresh fruits, and vegetables. 

However, they do need an aquarium with high humidity, which will require heating and lighting elements, thankfully you can purchase these from most pet supply stores.


Are you a fan of spiders? Do you live in a small space? A tarantula may be a great choice for you. These quiet exotic pets don't eat a ton, with some only eating a couple times a month, and their 10 to 20-gallon tank doesn't take up much space. They also come in a wide range of species and a variety of colors and patterns.

But, we don't recommend handling them because they have mildly toxic venom, and their bite can feel like a bee sting. Some tarantulas can even shoot their tiny furs at you causing an uncomfortable rash. You could also easily hurt your tarantula by handling them as their fuzzy exoskeletons are actually quite delicate.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have a small exotic pet in need of routine care? Contact our vets at Badger Veterinary Hospital today to schedule a wellness exam.

New Patients Welcome

Badger Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients. Our team is passionate about the health of animals from across Southern Wisconsin. Contact our closest location to book your first appointment today!

Contact Us