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17 Small Pets That Are Easy to Take Care of (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

May 19, 2021

Having pets is a great way to find companionship and love, but at what cost? Sometimes, adopting a cat or a dog is simply outside of our range of commitment. When we adopt, we have to remember that we are not just doing it to satisfy ourselves but also caring for another being.

Before adopting a pet, think about how much time you have to commit to caring for them and plan accordingly. You might already have a dog and want to add another animal in the mix, but know that another dog would be too much.

If you and your family are looking for a low-maintenance pet that is easier to care for and costs less to maintain, check out these 19 small pets.

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1. Hamsters

hamster
Image Credit: Lichtpuenktchen, Pixabay

Hamsters are one of the small pets that many people would think of immediately when asked to name a low-maintenance pet. They are in the rodent family and eat an omnivorous diet.

Hamsters are relatively small, being only 5 to 7 inches long. They live an average of 4 years and can often be bred in-home if you want to continue having a hamster family for the foreseeable future. Hamsters are distant relatives to the guinea pig. They might take a while to warm up to human handling, but eventually, they begin to crave it.

Since hamsters do not need much daily interaction, they can be easy to neglect them. Keep their cage cleaned out, and remember to feed them and check their water each day. However, the love you put into them is what they will learn to return to you.


2. Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

Guinea pigs are about the same amount of investment as a hamster, but these furry little guys tend to be friendlier from the start. They are delicate creatures, although they are larger than hamsters. Since that is the case, it is sometimes better for them to be pets for older children, since rough handling can hurt them.

Guinea pigs live an average lifespan of about 4 to 5 years and prefer not to be on their own. If you adopt a guinea pig, consider adopting two to keep them company.

Also, omnivorous guinea pigs mostly need veggie-based meals. They need more daily love than a hamster will, but they still need weekly cage maintenance to keep them clean and healthy.


3. Chinchillas

Chinchillas
Image Credit: tahanadakila, Pixabay

Chinchillas are arguably the cutest of all the low-maintenance pets featured on our list. They also need a friend in their enclosure for some companionship, and doing so can actually increase their lifespan. They live longer than other small pets, on average, around 10 years.

Part of the reason that chinchillas make such a good option for a low-maintenance pet is that they prefer not to be held that often. They like to feel loved but don’t need a ton of time being carried around the home.

Independent in nature, they need an enclosure that is large enough to stroll around in and explore. They need nesting and a diet of food made specifically for a chinchilla. This kind of food can be found at almost any local pet store or online.


4. Rats

Rats
Image Credit: Kapa65, Pixabay

Rats are at the top of any list of low-maintenance pets. They are one of the smarter animals in this category and make for quite interesting pets.

For some people, when they think of rats, they picture creatures that slink around the sewers. However, pet rats are clean creatures. They take a great deal of time grooming themselves and even prefer their food organized in neat piles in their enclosure.

Norway rats are one of the more common species that you find as a pet rat. They have a shorter life span than some of the other animals here, living only between 2 or 3 years. They grow anywhere from 9 to 11 inches long from tip to tail. Your interaction with them can be as much or as little as you want, since they are adaptable.

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5. Snakes

Snakes
Image Credit: skeeze, Pixabay

Although reptiles of any sort might not be everyone’s cup of tea, snakes stand out. Some people would prefer almost anything over welcoming a snake into their home, while others think these pets are pretty nifty.

Not all snakes are poisonous, and it is generally recommended to find non-toxic snakes as pets. Most pet shops won’t sell venomous snakes, anyway, so you shouldn’t have to worry about accidentally picking the wrong one.

Common pet snake species include the corn snake, gopher snake, the ball python, California kingsnake, and the rosy boa. Consider what size they will grow into as an adult and their overall temperament.


6. Leopard Geckos

Leopard Geckos
Image Credit: cubialpha, Pixabay

Geckos of any kind are a neat pet for a family to own or a single person who doesn’t prefer a fuzzy pet. Leopard geckos take the cake in terms of cool species. They are perfect for apartment-dwellers and have a docile nature for kids to play with calmly.

Leopard geckos do not require much in terms of daily care. You can have many of these small animals housed in a 15- to 20-gallon tank. They feed on a diet of insects, mostly crickets and mealworms, that you can buy in a pet store.

Compared to most rodents’ relatively short lifespan, geckos can live for 20 years or more. If you are looking for a long-term commitment, they are there for you.


7. Turtles

Turtles
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Another small pet that is low-maintenance and long-living is the turtle. There are many species of turtles that you can consider as pets. It all depends on what you are looking for in terms of size, lifespan, enclosure needs, and daily habits.

Since they stay small and live for more than 30 years, one of the easiest turtles is the painted turtle. These little animals can fit into a regular terrarium and don’t even need to be fed daily. Feed them four to five times a week, things like insects, dark greens, and fish.

One of the most significant factors to caring for a turtle is maintaining the water temperature and keeping their enclosure clean. They do not need much handling but won’t care much one way or another.

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8. Betta fish

Betta fish
Image Credit: nicefishes, Pixabay

For some people, the most apparent answer to a search for a low-maintenance pet is a fish. However, even though a fish doesn’t need coddling and personal affection, they do require quite a bit of maintenance.

Getting a freshwater fish is significantly easier than trying to develop a saltwater aquarium. Even easier is to adopt a betta fish. They are territorial, so they do not prefer any other fish in their aquarium. They can be kept in a smaller space and can live for many years if cared for properly. Since there is only one fish in an enclosure, more time can go between cleanings.


9. Hermit crabs

Hermit crabs
Image Credit: ulrikebohr570, Pixabay

Hermit crabs are one of those strange creatures that fit in between different kinds of animals. They are commonly kept in an enclosure with other sea life and will happily drag their shell around for between 7 to 10 years.

Hermit crabs can grow up to 6 inches long, and one of the most in-depth facets to keeping them healthy is finding the right shells for them to fit into as they outgrow their old ones. They need a terrarium with at least 5 gallons of space placed in an area of indirect sunlight.

Even cleaning the hermit crabs terrarium is low-key. They are not messy creatures and prefer to be left alone for the most part. Their diet is small pellets and powdered food, so you won’t have to work hard to keep up with it.


10. Sea monkeys

Sea monkeys
Image Credit: NoeIIa, Pixabay

Sea monkeys went through an odd marketing season throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000s as an “instant pet” that you could hatch from a powder. These pets were beloved by kids, and for a while, nobody could answer the question of precisely what they were.

Sea monkeys are brine shrimp, almost microscopic and extremely low-maintenance. They make the perfect first pet for most kids because they are fun to watch yet require little to no work. They need to be fed about twice a week and once a month, a gentle tank wash.

Sea monkeys, or brine shrimp, can live for up to two years and are a low-cost initial investment.


11. Snails

Snails
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Snails are very small pets that are incredibly easy to care for and have a long lifespan. They can live between 10 and 15 years if they are cared for properly.

Their care entails a terrarium with a couple of inches of soil on the bottom and a feeding every couple of days. You can set in small bits of carrots, apples, cucumbers with chalk, cuttlefish bone, and eggshells to keep them and their shells happy and healthy.

Clean the terrarium that a snail lives in about once a week by spraying down the walls with water to clear off the mucus trails. This way, you and your little pet can live together in happy harmony.


12. African Dwarf Frogs

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Credit: Dan Olsen, Shutterstock

The African Dwarf Frog is an interesting little creature that can live in aquariums and be kept with fish if you so desire.

These frogs only grow to about 1.5 inches long and have an average lifespan of up to 5 years. They eat mostly bloodworms and brine shrimp, so don’t keep them with your sea monkeys.

The most important aspect of keeping a dwarf frog happy is to maintain the quality of the water. It should be checked at least once a week and changed about twice a month.

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13. Tarantulas

tarantula
Image Credit: 251206, Pixabay

A pet that some people are fascinated by, while other people loathe is the tarantula. These large, hairy spiders can grow up to 10 inches in diameter, while others stay small, growing only 2 inches wide.

Although there are a wide variety of tarantula species, most of them live for about 7 years. They are easy to care for because they don’t need much personal time. Instead, set them in a suitable terrarium that they can roam and feed them live insects. These can include crickets, super worms, mealworms, and even roaches.

They need to be kept away from sunlight, and their enclosure cleaned once every couple of weeks.


14. Praying Mantis

praying mantis
Image Credit: LubosHouska, Pixabay

A praying mantis is a surprisingly engaging pet. They can sit still for hours on end and then suddenly turn their heads and attack an insect left in their terrarium. They are quite colorful compared to some other insect species.

In captivity, a praying mantis lives around 1 year. They need only a small tank because they do not move around too much. They eat various other smaller insects, such as fruit slides, moths, smaller mantids, and sometimes crickets if they are large.

One of the best things about these creatures is that they are often free. Go for a trek outside, and find one to adopt on a tree or in your garden.


15. Scorpion

scorpion
Image Credit: andrey_barsukov, Pixabay

Owning something as simple as a bug is not going to be satisfying to someone who wants to feel like they have a real pet to care for. A scorpion runs along the same lines of owning an insect, but with the added benefit of being a bit creepier.

These crawly creatures can grow up to 8 inches long and have a range of lifespans, from 2 to 6 years. An adult scorpion only needs feeding every other day. They live off a diet of mealworms, crickets, and wax worms.

The most significant factor of caring for a scorpion is the temperature of their enclosure. They need a hot tank, kept consistently between 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees.

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16. Cats

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Image Credit: miezekieze, Pixabay

Many people will argue that cats are a low-maintenance species that show you a little more affectionate intermittently than bugs or fish will. They tend to be solitary and independent creatures that come up to you whenever they want your love and attention.

Beyond the petting every once and a while, all that cats need is you to clean their litter box a couple of times a week. Some low-maintenance breeds include the Sphynx cat, British Shorthair, Russian Blue, Maine Coon, and the Scottish Fold, to name a few.


17. Birds

Birds
Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay

There are many species of birds that you can adopt to have somewhat intelligent pets to spend time with and train. Parrots can be trained to talk with you, although they can also be quite noisy. They live up to 80 years, though, so be ready for a lifetime commitment!

Smaller birds are generally rank better on the low-maintenance scale. These include breeds like parakeets, budgies, and canaries. They need their cage cleaned about once a week to every other week and consistently fed. If you have the time, let them out and allow them to play around the house. Just watch out for droppings.


Featured Image Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.