Since most exotic pets are both quiet and small, they can make great pets for apartments. While you should check your homeowner/tenant agreement to ensure pets are allowed, compact animals like these can usually be made into an exception. If you can, get your permission in writing, and once you’re clear to pick your exotic pet, you need to decide what you need in a pet and if you have the right space for them. To get an idea of what kind of options you have, here are a few tidbits on fairly common exotic pets.
While they are sociable and enjoy being near humans, rabbits usually don’t enjoy being held, even when training is attempted at a young age. Like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, but it may take considerable effort to make it work—if you succeed, feel free to give your rabbit some level of free range within the apartment. They require fairly large cages, especially if their time outside their cage is more limited, but make sure the cage itself has no chance of hurting the animal (keep some Manuka honey on hand just in case!)
Rabbits should also be fixed for both health reasons and to decrease marking behavior. Be warned that they like to dig and chew, so put in the effort to train and rabbit-proof your home, particularly with carpeting and wood trim.
These furry critters are social, active, and love playing together and with people when they’re not sleeping, which is a fairly large part of their day. Like rabbits, they’ve been known to learn litter-training and require large cages and time outside the cage. Ferrets, especially females, should be fixed for health reasons, though most that are sold as pets usually are already. It’s important to note that ferrets like hiding in small places and are quite mischievous, so provide solid supervision and ferret-proofing as needed.
Despite their not-so-great reputation, rats are both responsive and friendly as pets go, often easy to tame while enjoying time on their owners’ laps and shoulders. If you’re going to have more than one, you should keep same-sex groups or pairs and provide a large cage with playtime outside the cage. It’s also important to remember that rats are most active during the night, but they can adapt somewhat to wake during the day.
These active rodents are very social, and they can be handled and tamed fairly easily. As with pet rats, gerbils are best kept in same-sex groups or pairs if you plan on having more than one. Unlike our previous entries, gerbils can actually get by with a medium to small cage, but a decent-sized cage would mean they wouldn’t require playtime outside the cage. They are active sporadically throughout days and nights.
Depending on your budget and space, you have a wide range of options regarding reptiles, and they may be best for those who have less time to spend with their animals, as reptiles are usually not as responsive as mammals:
- Snakes: milk snakes, king snakes, ball pythons, and corn snakes are ideal options for both smaller spaces and beginners. Be cautious, though—snakes are talented escape artists, and your neighbors may not be happy if your snakes get out of their cages.
- Lizards: bearded dragons, anoles, house geckos, crested geckos, and leopard geckos are good for small spaces and beginners.
- Turtles: may not do well in apartments. With very large tanks available, aquatic turtles might do well enough, but tortoises and box turtles do best when they have yards at least some of the time.
Many other options for ideal exotic pets in apartments are out there, such as hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, sugar gliders, chinchillas, degus, hedgehogs, frogs, hermit crabs, fire-bellied newts, and tarantulas.
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