The Best Pets for Apartments: Low-Maintenance Companionship for Close Quarters


It’s a sad fact of apartment life that not all landlords love tenants with pets. However, even if your dwelling doesn’t allow cats, dogs, or capybaras, that doesn’t mean that you (or your kids) are doomed to a pet-less existence. It turns out, plenty of animals are well-suited to apartment living whether it’s based on their size, limited upkeep, or otherwise, according to Rena Lafaille, the administrative manager of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Adoption Center. So if you’re looking for more out-of-the-box ideas, check out this list revealing the best pets for apartments. Dogs aren’t the only animals capable of best friend status!


ParakeetLee Ingram/iStock

Do you love the idea of a cheerful songbird in your apartment? Look no further than the original tweeter breed, the parakeet.

Around 8 inches long, this independent—and adorable—bird can be taught to whistle tunes and talk, but it won’t squawk so loud as to annoy your apartment or condo neighbors like its larger-feathered friends might. It also doesn’t need much space, making it an ideal apartment pet.

While larger parrots need four-plus hours of playtime outside of their cage every day, parakeets can fly easily within a cage 3 feet wide and tall and just 2 feet deep—so it doesn’t get more apartment-friendly than that.

Parakeets don’t need a ton of stuff either (a few toys and activities are fine), making their upkeep relatively inexpensive to boot. Sure, that prattling on can be a bit annoying. But you probably won’t mind.

Betta fish

This easily managed betta fish (aka Siamese fighting fish) doesn’t require a complicated tank setup, making this small pet another wise choice for apartment living. The brilliantly hued beauty’s bowl simply needs clean, warm water (forget the aquarium filters or heaters). The bowl doesn’t even have to be huge, because this breed’s average length is just a couple of inches. This finned friend couldn’t be more perfect for your apartment.


HedgehogIRYNA KAZLOVA/iStock

Night owls, meet your match. The sweet, spiky African pygmy hedgehog comes alive at night. But its best attribute, as far as apartment living goes, is how low-maintenance it is. This palm-size cutie patootie needs merely a cage, wheel, wood chips, water bottle, and cat food (or minced beef, chicken, or turkey).

The pet owner’s only added responsibility is to give it about a half-hour of human touch, and a bath now and then—it’s almost like a dog but with considerably less effort. But you’ll have to brace yourself for disappointment if you live in Maine, California, Georgia, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania: The critter is considered a wild animal in each of those states, and it is illegal to keep it as a pet in your home—apartment or otherwise.


This slithery animal may seem a little creepy (OK, a lot creepy), but it also has cool factor to spare. Unlike many other pets, it has a long life span and can be left alone for long stretches without you, dear owner, having to worry about it getting lonely in your apartment (because it won’t).

The best beginner pet snake breeds, according to Reptiles Magazine, include the corn snake, California kingsnake, rosy boa, gopher snake, and ball python. Just prepare to feed them their favorite on the menu: frozen mice and rats that have been thawed! Don’t judge. A dog or cat probably wouldn’t turn down that entrée either!


Happy to hang out on their own, in a solid-bottom wire cage or in an aquarium, hamsters are not only adorable, they also love to interact with people, making them a nice option if you’re pining for a cat or dog. The rodents keep busy, too, tunneling in shredded paper or tissue bedding and exercising on their wheels at night.

Hamsters’ food is low-maintenance as well: pellets, water, cheese, and the occasional piece of fresh fruit or veggies. And unlike noisy guinea pigs, which communicate in clicks and whines, these small pets are silent sorts unlikely to irritate anyone within earshot—which is typically everyone in an apartment space. So if you’re debating between a hamster or a guinea pig, that detail might help to break the tie.



If the best roommate is a quiet one, then a gecko is the best darn roomie ever! Naturally shy, this lizard chills out happily in a heated terrarium and sleeps all day. At night this small animal eats (worms and crickets, yum!), pokes around, and hides under the rocks or wood placed in its playground-like terrarium, which is easy to find at any pet store.

Thankfully, this indoor reptile isn’t as chatty or irritating as the insurance rep it plays on TV.


Hop to it and get a rabbit if you want a very cute, apartment-friendly pet that can be trained to, wait for it, use a litter box!

That’s right, renters: A rabbit can learn to handle its business like felines do—as well as exercise outdoors with a collar and leash. In fact, it just might be a great pet alternative for cat lovers.

The bonus for working families: Rabbits are most active in the early mornings and evenings, similar to the rush hours at home. A quiet pet, rabbits are nevertheless social critters. They love a good cuddle, but watch out for their teeth. A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing throughout the pet’s lifetime (rabbits constantly chew things like wires and houseplants)!

Article by Jennifer O’Neill