Apartment Pets: The Good, the Bad, and the Exotic

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Kitten

If the privacy and solitude you once craved in apartment life grows old and you start to feel a bit lonely, a simple solution is to add a pet to the family. Although many places prohibit dogs and cats, there are many other animals that you can still bond with, talk to, nurture, and love — although many of them aren’t exactly the type of pet you’d take for a walk in the park.

The Good

Cats

If you just want a warm mammal in your home, cats are perfect. They don’t typically crave companionship. In fact, you can be gone a couple days, and as long as they have food, water, and a clean litter box, most won’t even miss you. On the other hand, if you play with them and offer cuddles, they appreciate the attention with purrs and snuggling.

Dogs

People who like to be missed find dogs to be the ideal pet. Whether you leave for a week or just take out the trash, they’ll greet you with joy and appreciation like you just rescued them from the jaws of a lion. Little dogs are happy in apartments, but some large breeds work as well, as long as you’re home on a regular basis and shower them with attention and frequent walks outside. For the sake of yourself and your neighbors, make sure to choose a breed that doesn’t make a lot of noise.

Parakeets

These cute little birds are extremely well-suited for small spaces, perfectly content living in a three-foot by two-foot cage with a couple of toys and a mirror. Be careful what you say though, as they love to mimic phrases they repeatedly hear.

Guinea Pigs and Hamsters

Guinea pigs and hamsters rank among the most perfect apartment pets. They’re social when you want but can amuse themselves for hours in medium to large-sized cages with running wheels and other simple toys. They also value solitude, though, so don’t try to pair them up in one cage.

Goldfish

Although many people don’t consider goldfish pet material since they just swim around in a bowl, that level of maintenance does appeal to some. Take care not to mix breeds that feed on each other, and take it easy on the food portions lest you want to kill them with fish flakes.

The Bad

Ferrets

Insanely endearing and as photogenic as kittens, ferrets are fun for about five minutes. A ferret is like a toddler on a permanent sugar-high, constantly moving and seeking open space in every room. When they’re not running, they’re burrowing in your pillows, laundry baskets, trash cans, and anywhere else they can create a semblance of a hole.

Sugar Gliders

These endearing little creatures seem like they’d be ideal for small apartments, but don’t be fooled. They incessantly jump and glide to the point where you feel like you’re dodging birds or bats gone wild. Sugar gliders also seem to have low self-esteem, because if you don’t provide them with a companion, they suffer such severe depression that they actually become ill.

Parrots

Stately and beautiful, large parrots (as well as macaws and cockatoos) are like loud drunks. They don’t chirp like little birds. Instead, they squawk so loudly at all hours of the day and night that you and your neighbors will probably be suffering from some serious sleep deprivation before long.

The Exotic

Hedgehog

Bearded Dragons

Unlike most breeds of lizard, bearded dragons like to socialize. They aren’t picky about the size of their living quarters, and their insect-based diet is about as economical as it gets. Adult bearded dragons (over 18 months old) are very low-maintenance pets, but younger ones have to be fed three or four times a day and get regular medical checkups.

Hermit Crabs

People seeking the lowest-maintenance pet available should check out hermit crabs. They shun socializing and prefer a hands-off owner who lets them live undisturbed in their cages, although they’re happy to share their space with other crabs, thriving particularly well in groups of three or four.

Tarantulas

One of the most fascinating pets is the mighty tarantula. They come in amazing colors and need very little space to thrive. Frequent handling is discouraged, as it poses a danger to them and most are not particularly friendly. Tarantulas must also be fed live food, and keeping a stash of live insects on hand may be challenging. You should also consider friends and family who may be deathly afraid of huge, hairy spiders, especially tarantulas, who spend every waking minute trying to escape their living quarters.

Hedgehogs

One of this year’s trendiest house pets is the African Pygmy hedgehog, which maxes out at just nine inches long. They’re nocturnal but relatively quiet, and once they warm up to you, they absolutely love to play. This variety of hedgehog requires medium-size quarters, keeps itself clean, and is virtually odorless. Be aware that as of January 2018, keeping hedgehogs as pets is illegal in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and all five boroughs of New York City.

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