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15 Best Small Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

15 Best Small Exotic Pets for Apartment Living

Exotic pets have been growing in popularity across the country. Our Orlando vets have developed a list providing information on some of the best exotic pets you can legally own.

Exotic Pets

Exotic pets is a pretty broad term considering not all of these "pets" are legal to own. Some of these exotic pets may not be legal to own where you live (varies by state or country) and have very specific care and behavior requirements that make it difficult to keep them happy and healthy.

Before you even start thinking about what type of exotic pet you would like, a lot of research must be done in advance. To help get you started, the following list of exotic pets has some of the best exotic pets that are legal to own (not necessarily in every state in America).

1. Chinchillas 

Chinchillas are small rodents with playful personalities. They make good apartment dwellers since they are clean and relatively odor-free.

They are nocturnal, so if you are not home during the day, they will not miss you much. With gentle handling from a young age, they can bond closely with you.

House a single chinchilla in a cage that is at least 2 feet by 2 feet.

2. Tarantula

If you’re a fan of spiders, a pet tarantula can be a fascinating addition to your home. Tarantulas are quiet and typically only need a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium to thrive. They are low maintenance, only need food every other day or so, and do not mind if you are not around much.

Although the venom of a pet tarantula is only mildly toxic (similar to a bee sting), you should not handle it.

3. Fennec Fox

The Fennec Fox is the smallest in the world, originating from Africa. They are growing in popularity due to their behavioral similarities to a dog or cat, which makes them an ideal pet for someone who wants a pet that is out of the norm. This species only reaches about four pounds even when fully grown, but is still very playful and full of energy while also being happy being left to its own devices.

These pets, however, are quite difficult to obtain and can be very pricey. They do live between 10 and 15 years so the price may be worth it if you can commit.

4. Sugar Gliders

Often thought to be the same as a flying squirrel, sugar gliders are cute little creatures that have a thin membrane of skin on each side of their body that gives them the ability to glide from a high point to a lower location. The main difference between sugar gliders and flying squirrels is that sugar gliders are generally a bit smaller in size, and are marsupials while flying squirrels are mammals.

This is another social pet that would highly benefit from having a second sugar glider in their environment if you were to be interested in one. When properly socialized, sugar gliders are great, loyal companions and can be very affectionate. However, they are rather messy and can be very difficult to house train.

5. Wallaby

These adorable creatures are often referred to as "mini kangaroo" due to their uncanny resemblance to the fellow marsupial. Like the kangaroo, the wallaby is only found naturally in Australia, but unlike regular kangaroo, they are also native to Papua New Guinea. Wallaby can now be seen in specific states around the United States as rare house pets.

Wallabies are extremely difficult to care for and will require a lot of research before purchasing one. With these creatures being truly exotic, you should look into wallaby behavior, diet, the ability for veterinary care in your area as well as housing habits just as a start. They also require ample outdoor space so you may require a license in your state to own a wallaby.

6. Rabbits

There are nearly 50 breeds of rabbits that people like to keep as a pet. Most are social animals that want to keep you company. Rabbits are a suitable option for apartment living since they can be litter-box trained, groom themselves, and are relatively quiet.

Many people allow their rabbits to roam free in their homes, which is a good way for them to get exercise. One drawback to keeping rabbits is that they like to chew and dig.

You will need to bunny-proof your home by making sure there are no exposed cords and only allowing the rabbit to roam in carpet or rug-free rooms.

7. Ferrets

Ferrets love to play with humans and each other. To accommodate their playful nature, provide them with a large cage. They make excellent apartment dwellers because they sleep most of the day while the owner is away for the day. They are quiet creatures but also like to hide and get into mischief.

You will need to make sure your home is ferret-proofed to prevent escapes or unsafe hiding spots (like in the oven).

8. Rats

Rats are friendly, quiet, and intelligent animals. Their small size and relatively easy care make them perfect for smaller homes. Their cage needs are not too demanding: about 2 cubic feet per rat. They tend to be easily tamed and often like to hang out on people's shoulders or laps. Rats will likely sleep most of the day if you leave the house.

They are most active at night but will wake up for interaction during the day.

9. Mice

Mice do not require a lot of space or a large cage. Their size requirements are just one of the reasons why they make great pets for small spaces. They are also quiet, fastidious self-groomers, and they are relatively easy to care for. They are also intelligent, and their playful antics are fun to watch. While they are skittish, they can be tamed if handled regularly and hand-fed.

10. Hamster

No-pet apartment leases usually allow hamsters, and they are ideal apartment pets since they do not require a lot of space. They are quiet, clean, low maintenance, and don't shed. Most allergy sufferers can live comfortably with a hamster in the house.1 Hamster is easy to tame with regular handling.

All a hamster needs is a 2-cubic-feet cage equipped with an exercise wheel, items to chew, absorbent bedding, a hiding spot, food, and water.

11. Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs crave socialization and are typically easy to handle. They make a "wheek" sound as a vocalization, but it is not loud enough to disturb neighbors in an apartment setting. Their enclosures are also a manageable size. At the minimum, these rodents need a cage that encompasses about 7-8 square feet. Height is not critical; they don't tend to climb, so it does not need to be taller than a foot or 18 inches.

They appreciate the out-of-cage time to socialize, explore, and play. Like other pets allowed to roam in your home, make sure there are no exposed wires or toxic plants and protect wooden fixtures.

12. Reptiles

Reptiles like smaller lizards and snakes are not as social as mammals, but they can be good for small spaces. They make no noise and are relatively easy to care for. Lizard species that are good for beginners include leopard geckos, crested geckos, house geckos, bearded dragons, and anoles. Snake species that do not require large enclosures include corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, and ball pythons.

13. Hedgehog

Hedgehogs do not need a vast cage; a good size for an enclosure is at least 2 feet by 3 feet. Primarily nocturnal, they will not mind if you are away during the day. Hedgehogs are quiet and produce very little dander, making them the right pet for people with allergies. They're typically gentle and generally solitary.

A drawback is that there are some parts of the U.S. where they are illegal or require permits; check your state laws on exotic pets before you adopt one.

14. Frogs 

Many frog species don't need much space, so they are an ideal choice for small apartments. The ideal tank size for most frogs is a 10-gallon or 20-gallon tank. If you are looking for a pet to look at and display, then this is the right choice for you. They are also low-maintenance pets, only eating a few times a week.

There are several types of pet frogs: aquatic frogs (African clawed frogs), semi-aquatic frogs (oriental fire-bellied toads), tree frogs (American green tree frogs), and large but sedentary frogs (Pacman frogs). Some male frogs sing, so they're not a completely quiet pet, but the sound is not loud enough to offend the neighbors.

15. Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are low-commitment pets. They are great for apartment living since they make no noise, are hypoallergenic, and are low-maintenance. Hermit crabs are interesting to watch; they move from one shell to another. They are social and do best when placed with other hermit crabs if their tank is spacious enough. House an individual in a 10- to 20-gallon tank.

Think Before You Buy

There is certainly a definite appeal to owning exotic pets as people often like the idea of owning something atypical that not many people will have. However, a lot of research should be done before bringing home your pet. Failing to do so may put the animal's health and safety at risk, and they can also be a danger to you and your family. Be sure to also contact your state, city,  and vet to ensure there will not be any issues in acquiring your exotic pet.

If you have or are contemplating an exotic pet, don't hesitate to contact our Orlando vets today to discuss any medical procedures or info we can provide.

Caring for Pets in Orlando

Caring for Pets in Orlando

East Orlando Animal Hospital is always happy to welcome new clients to our full-service animal hospital. We look forward to meeting you and your pet!

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