10 Best Exotic Pets for Small Spaces

Black tarantula spider climbing person's hand closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

If you'd love a pet but think you don't have the space for one, think again. There are many exotic pets that can thrive in homes with limited square footage. Many of these animals are quite small and don't require massive habitats for exercise and enrichment. They also tend to be fairly quiet. But keep in mind, just because a pet takes up minimal space, that doesn't necessarily mean the animal is easy to care for. Many exotic pets have complex care and environmental needs.

Here are 10 of the best exotic pets that are appropriate for small spaces.

What Is an Exotic Pet?

An exotic pet is a term with no exact definition. Sometimes it is used to refer to wild animals being kept as pets, and other times it is used to refer to unusual pets. On The Spruce, we define an exotic pet as anything that is not a dog, cat, or farm animal.

  • 01 of 10

    Hermit Crabs

    Hermit crab on sand

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    Although hermit crabs don't need a lot of space, don't be taken in by the shops that sell them in tiny plastic boxes. They need more room than that. A 10-gallon tank can comfortably house a couple of medium or a few small hermit crabs. Keep the temperature at 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 27 degrees Celsius). These animals can be quite fascinating to watch. And because they are social, keep at least a pair of crabs for them to have company.

  • 02 of 10


    Tarantula on black surface

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    Tarantulas require an adventurous caretaker, but these animals aren't as venomous as people think. Most species kept as pets have bites similar to bee stings, though they might cause some people to have an allergic reaction. Tarantulas don't need much in the way of space. For burrowing or terrestrial spiders, the cage typically should be about three times the spider's leg span long and double the leg span wide. Stick to ground-dwelling, docile species, such as the Chilean rose or pinktoe, if you are a beginner.


    Always research your state and county's laws about exotic pet ownership before purchasing an exotic animal. Some exotic and venomous creatures may be illegal for you to keep as a pet in your area.

  • 03 of 10

    Emperor Scorpions

    Emperor scorpion on rocks

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    Emperor scorpions are fine living in a 10-gallon tank, and they're definitely interesting to watch. They can be housed alone or in groups, but a group requires a tank of around 20 to 30 gallons. Offering too much space can be detrimental, as that makes it difficult for the scorpions to catch their prey. Like tarantulas, scorpions are quiet, clean, and pretty easy to care for. They're not terribly venomous, though the stings are painful and handling isn't recommended.

  • 04 of 10


    Mice sitting in colorful cups

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    Mice are great for small spaces, particularly if you don't have much time to handle your animal but still want something cute, furry, and fun to watch. Get a pair or small group of female mice, as they typically are social and happiest with company. A few female mice can share a cage that's around 2 feet in length and width and 1 foot tall. Male mice are a bit trickier, as they will usually fight when kept together.

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  • 05 of 10

    Hissing Cockroaches

    Hissing Cockroaches
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    If you live in a rental, your landlord might not be so keen on you keeping a cockroach as a pet (so check regulations). A 10- to 15-gallon tank (with a secure mesh lid) can house several hissing cockroaches. They are sturdy and self-sufficient, requiring minimal care. Feed them a pelleted diet, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, and make sure their water is in a shallow dish to prevent drowning.

  • 06 of 10

    Frogs and Toads

    Dwarf clawed frog swimming

    James Gathany / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    There are several frogs and toads that are suitable for small spaces. Dwarf clawed frogs are very small and completely aquatic, and a gallon tank should suit them. American green tree frogs can do well in a 10-gallon, terrestrial-type tank, though a tall tank is preferred. Leopard frogs and oriental fire-bellied toads are both semi-aquatic and can live in a 10-gallon tank. And, despite their large size, Pacman frogs are pretty sedentary and also can live in a 10-gallon tank.

  • 07 of 10


    Portrait of female Syrian hamster

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    Hamsters need at least a 2-square-foot cage that has space for their food, chew toys, and a covered area in which they can hide and sleep. A running wheel in the cage can help them stay healthy. Plus, they can have out-of-cage supervised playtime. There are several species to choose from, including Syrian hamsters (larger and solitary), dwarf hamsters (small and can live in same-sex groups), and Chinese hamsters (small and tolerant of handling).

  • 08 of 10

    Giant Millipedes

    Close-up of a millipede

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    Giant African millipedes are definitely not traditional pets and might not be permitted where you live, but they are quite fascinating. A 10- to 15-gallon aquarium usually can provide enough room for a couple of millipedes. Having floor space is more important than height, though a secure lid is recommended. These animals have a secretion that can be harmful to a person's skin and eyes, so handling is not recommended.

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  • 09 of 10


    Leopard gecko on wood

    David A. Northcott / Getty Images

    Leopard and house geckos are among the best choices for reptile pets, especially for beginners. They don't need much cage space—a 15- to 20-gallon tank should do—so they're a good option if you don't have room for an elaborate vivarium setup. Leopard geckos tend to be the most commonly available pet geckos, but house geckos can also be found.

  • 10 of 10


    Coiled corn snake

    Joao Paulo Burini / Getty Images

    Among snakes, corn snakes are good for beginners and don't need huge homes to thrive. A 20-gallon tank that is fairly long and shallow should be fine for an adult. Just make sure you outfit the tank with a secure lid that can be clamped down, as these snakes are known to push at the lid with their noses, looking for openings. They typically are nice, easygoing snakes that can live around 20 years with proper care.