Living in a small home can make owning a pet difficult. Space limitations rule out many common pets such as dogs or rabbits, but there are still plenty of possible options. In this article, we’ll look at some tiny pets that can bring life and interest into your home, no matter how little space you have available.
Crested geckos come from the island of New Caledonia off the coast of Australia. They grow to only some 6-8” in total length, including the tail. This means that crested gecko cages only need to be quite modest in size, with most experts recommending a cage of some 30cm wide, 30cm deep and 45cm tall as a minimum. This is something that most of us can easily accommodate even in a small cage.
However, it’s not just the size of crested geckos that makes them an ideal pet for small homes. Firstly, crested geckos strongly dislike hot conditions, which means that their heating requirements are far less onerous than many other pet lizards. As they are nocturnal they do not require artificial UV light - something which can add significantly to the cost of buying and keeping many other lizards.
In all, the crested gecko represents a small, beautiful and fascinating pet that requires minimal space and is easy to care for.
While the idea of keeping a tarantula in your home may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect pet they do actually offer all sorts of benefits.
Most of the more popular beginner species grow to quite a modest size - just some 5-6” measured across the legs. This means that they require only quite tiny cages. Indeed, many tarantula keepers don’t even invest in a “proper” cage from a reptile store, instead of modifying a plastic container intended for storing food, etc. All you need to do is select one of a suitable size (30cm x 30cm is a good ballpark), drill some ventilation holes in the side and add in your substrate, a water bowl and a hide for your spider.
Even better, tarantulas only need to be once or twice a week, and apart from keeping their water topped up and ensuring they are warm enough they can be left to get on with life with minimal interference. If you’re looking for a pet that is not only small and silent but also requires a minimal time commitment from you then a tarantula may be a good choice.
There are many different species of treefrog available in exotic pet stores, but the smallest of these can be kept in cages of similar dimensions to those recommended for crested geckos.
Treefrogs can be particularly good pets for anyone who appreciates a “naturalistic” vivarium that closely resembles the jungle. You can add live or artificial plants, pieces of wood and bark and even - if you want to go all out - a water feature.
As a result, your treefrog cage can really become a feature in your home, providing constant interest. If you’re lucky you might even find that you’ve ended up with a breeding pair of treefrogs and can enjoy the spectacle of them breeding in the comfort of your own home.
Unlike the other pets listed so far, praying mantis are awake during the day. This means that you’ll be able to observe your pet moving around and hunting, while many of the other pets outlined here will really only do so in the evening.
Depending on where you live you may even be able to catch and rear your own praying mantis; if not they can often be purchased online from hobbyists and breeders.
Praying mantis have only basic requirements in captivity, needing a cage that is at least three times as tall as they are long, and ideally at least twice as wide. This ensures that your praying mantis can moult successfully; the most crucial time of life for any praying mantis.
Praying mantis-like to sit off the ground, so your mantis cage should provide suitable branches and other places where they can sit. Keep them warm and mist the cage occasionally so they can drink from the droplets.
The real fun with keeping praying mantis is the process of feeding; there can be little more fascinating than watching a large mantis hunt and catch their food.
While there are many small species of fish on the market, the betta fish probably represents the ideal species for a small home. This is because betta fish tanks are quite small - just 5 gallons is enough for a single fish though many people opt for the slightly larger 10-gallon models. Even these tanks take up minimal space and can be cheaply purchased from most good pet stores.
If you’re looking for a calming pet then fish cannot be easily beaten. Sit back in the evening as your brightly-colored betta fish explores their cage and hunts for food, their luxurious fins waving seductively in the water current.
As betta fish can be quite shy in captivity it makes sense to add decor like plants (live or artificial) and caves to their tank, giving them somewhere to hide away. Far from a downside, this affords you the opportunity to “aquascape” the tank and create a real focal point in your home.
Kenyan Sand Boas
While snakes come in many different sizes, even the most modestly sized snakes like ball pythons and corn snakes still require a cage of some 90-120cm long. These can be challenging to find a home for in small properties. However, of all the different options the Kenyan Sand Boa is probably your best option.
Sand boas reach only very modest proportions, with adults reaching roughly 60-90cm in total length. Males are considerably smaller at adulthood, so if space really is an issue for you then try to find a sexed male specimen.
The care of Kenyan sand boas is quite simple. A vivarium of around 2-3” in length with a decent depth of substrate, a hide, and a water bowl are the key ingredients. Snakes are natural escape artists so ensure that the tank you choose is escape-proof and you’ll be able to enjoy your sand boa for years into the future.
Many of us have experienced stick insects at petting zoos or at school. As the name suggests, many of these look just like small twigs, so are hardly a very exciting option. You might be surprised, however, to learn that over recent years the list of available species has grown quite considerably. If you fancy something a little more “interesting” then look into species like the Giant Prickly, Giant Spiny or the Jungle Nymph - all are quite unlike the “standard” stick insect and so provide additional interest.
Stick insects appreciate good ventilation, so cages made of netting or mesh are popular. Unlike many of the other small pets described so far, they eat plants. The upside to this is that it can be cheaper and easier to feed them - just add some bramble, oak, privet or rose leaves when they’re needed. On the flipside, you’ll need to invest time into replenishing their food as necessary; something that can be a little inconvenient if you live a busy life.
Triops are small crustaceans that live in seasonal pools in the wild. When the rains arrive, and the pools start to form, eggs in the earth hatch out. The triops grow rapidly into adults of around an inch long and produce their own eggs. Then, as the rains die away, the pools dry up. The adults sadly die, while the eggs lay dormant in the earth for next year.
Triops are super-simple to keep in captivity and probably require the smallest cage of all the pets outlined in this article. Look on Amazon or in good aquarium shops and you should find some very reasonably-priced starter kits containing everything you need, including eggs, the tank, and food.