Great Alternative Pets (That Aren’t Cats and Dogs)

So you want to get a pet, but it can’t be a dog or a cat. Maybe you’ve got allergies in the family, or maybe your apartment hates fun and furry friends. There is, of course, always the chance that you’re just looking for a different kind of pet. Dogs and cats are cool, sure, but what about a snake? Or a tiger?

Okay, so maybe not a tiger. The point is, sharing a bond with a pet and taking care of any animal can be an intensely rewarding experience. It can build a kind of reverence and affection for the animal world that’s hard to come by from a distance, but having a pet in your home comes with an equal amount of responsibility. So, let’s check out some good choices for people looking for something a little different.

Here are eight great pet alternatives and why they might be a great fit for your home.

1. Fish

While this isn’t always the case, fish may be a great option for people starting out on their pet ownership journey for a number of reasons. To start, you only need enough room to fit an appropriately sized fish tank. It’s also a good way to pick up pet care habits with a little less risk than cats or dogs. After all, if you leave the door or window open, your fish are far less likely to make a sudden escape. Keep an eye on the crabs, though, they’re a crafty aquarium friend.

Of course, fish can be care can be scaled up or down accordingly. While all fish require care and attention at the level of maintaining their aquarium environment, from oxygen levels to basic cleanliness, some require more specific care. It’s important to educate yourself on the types of fish you’re thinking about bringing home. Make sure they’ve got the right tank, the right company, and all the right temperatures, food, and equipment necessary to keep them swimming carefree.


2. Parakeets

The smallest of the parrot family, parakeets or budgies, make great pets. They’re fairly straightforward to care for, and they only need a certain amount of space for their cage and exercise. Being small birds, they can fly around smaller spaces and still get their necessary exercise compared to larger birds.

That said, birds can also be demanding. They’re messy eaters, usually pushing or dropping their food all over the place. And most birds are incredibly social. Most prefer to live in pairs or a group, and while they can be solo pets, they’ll require very regular attention and socialization from their owners. They also use their beak like a hand, so they’ll “bite” pretty frequently. Still, they’re very intelligent and can be great companions!


3. Rabbit

If you’re looking for a quieter option than our last pick (Did we mention birds scream? Like a lot?) then a rabbit may be an excellent choice. They’re quiet, trainable, and they can recognize their owners by sight and sound. They still need their exercise, so be sure to provide enough space for them to run around the house or apartment!

Rabbits do, however, get bored easily and they’re sensitive to overly loud sounds or music. While they’re excellent companions, they may need more regular stimulation in the way of chew-safe areas, boxes, or toys. Otherwise, you’ll have rabbit teeth marks all over your cables and floorboards. It’s also worth noting that you’ll need a vet that knows about rabbits, given their not quite dog or cat-like physiology.


4. Hamsters

Hamsters are a frequent choice for classrooms and homes, particularly when space is limited or people are still learning how to care for pets on their own. It’s not so much that hamsters demand less affection and care than other pets, they’re simply a little cheaper to maintain.

Regularly cleaning their cage and making sure they have plenty of opportunity to exercise with a wheel or other options is key. They’ll also need a balanced diet and access to water whenever they want or need it.


5. Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are amazing pets. They’re some of the more low maintenance reptile pets that people commonly look for when seeking out a scaled house pet. They are generally small, demanding a limited amount of space, and they have a fairly long lifespan.

While bearded dragons are relatively easy to maintain comparatively, they still have a fair number of specific demands that you might not expect. Most people know about their temperature and humidity needs, and everyone’s seen their love for basing in a warm light, but in many cases you need specialized lights and a tank designed to support their health. As with all pets, a bearded dragon can bring a lot of joy to your home, but research their needs and habits to make sure it’s the right fit for you!


6. Turtle

There are over 250 types of turtles, but only a handful stay small in their adulthood. Small turtles, also known as dollar turtles or miniature turtles, make great pets and depend on you for love and attention to thrive. That being said, they require less maintenance than most of its furry counterparts and are great pets even for young pet owners.   


Turtles live for decades, so make sure to keep that in mind as you make the decision to bring in this life-long pet into your home.


7. Tarantula

While this might be a hard sell for most, tarantulas actually make great pets because of their small size and relatively easy maintenance once you have them settled into a suitable cage. They eat once a week and don’t require much sunlight to do well.


While they aren’t necessarily the best option for new pet owners or anyone who wants a pet to cuddle up to, with a little research, they could be a great addition to your home. Smaller cages can actually be better depending on the species, but it’s best to figure out the specific type of tarantula you’re bringing in before settling on environment and cage specs.



8. Chinchilla

These furry (and cute) animals are a great pet to bring into small homes and apartments.  They can be tamed, don’t smell and actually enjoy being inside their cages. Chinchilla, like most pets, do need veterinary care to check for problems with their teeth or weight.


However, chinchillas are not considered lap pets and generally don’t like to cuddle.  But if a chinchilla is introduced to human interactions as a baby, or as a kit, they can develop strong bonds with their owners over time. And since they live up to 20 years, they’ll have a lot of time to develop a strong bond. For that reason, it’s important to socialize your chinchilla. And when it comes to their teeth, remember that they like to chew and gnaw on things to maintain them, so be aware and chew-proof your house for this friend, too.


Pet Ownership Rewarding at Any Age


Pet ownership is a great learning experience at any age — teaching owners responsibility, respect and most cases, love. Even if cats and dogs aren’t right for you, don’t give up on the joys of bringing a pet into your life! With the right amount of preparation and attention, any and all of these pets can be wonderful companions around your home.

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