10 Low Maintenance Pets for College Students

College can be a very difficult time for many people. Your college years are/were a challenging phase. Another thing that makes it that much harder is that you can’t bring your cat or dog with you. But, while your furry pets can’t join you on your journey of getting a degree, there are other low maintenance pets for college students that you can consider. There are always alternatives, and some people want to have the company of a pet throughout their entire lives – that includes college too.

On the plus side, these pets are also safe – even if you’re living in a shared dorm room. So, to get you started, here are some low maintenance and safe pets you can enjoy on your road to getting your degree:

1. Betta Fish

low maintenance pets for college students

If you want a pet that doesn’t make noises or is quiet, your best bet is small fish. We recommend betta fish since they look great and can live happily in a medium-sized fishbowl.

We’ve had many goldfish in the past. One common thing we noticed is they need much more care than you originally might think. Most people complain about goldfish dying quickly, yet goldfish can actually live for decades if taken care of properly. This is why we don’t list goldfish immediately as a low maintenance pet to keep.

However, betta fish can live long with minimal maintenance and care. Also, they are available in a variety of colors, which makes them even more enjoyable to look at and take care of.

Additionally, betta fishes can thrive on dirty water if you happen to be busy with your exams and forget to clean. Believe it or not, they actually enjoy dirty water. That is pretty much the textbook definition of a low maintenance pet! However, this doesn’t mean that you should just never clean the tank or let it reach an unacceptable amount of dirtiness. 

You can also try other fish. You can even get a bunch of tropical fish too! If you have more space in your dorm room, you can get a 2 gallon or more tank so you can house more fish in it.

Upsides

  • Totally noise-free and they don’t need a water filter to live
  • More fun and pleasing to the eyes than goldfish and other large fishes
  • Very minimal care needed, just feed it daily and keep the tank clean
  • Very cheap – you can purchase a few from your nearest pet stores

Downsides

  • Male beta fishes don’t like being around another male fish, especially in a small bowl. They will fight, potentially/likely to their death

2. Hamsters

Hamster

Did you say cute? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, you can never go wrong with adorable hamsters. These cute furry pets require a little more responsibility than fishes, but it’s still manageable, even for busy college kids.

You can put them in a cage with a hamster wheel or put them on a hamster leash. They are small, but you’ll have a blast with these little rodents.

If you’re living solo in an apartment, you can still allow your hamster to freely roam around your room. Although, it’s better to put them in a cage when you’re going to school.

Overall, hamsters don’t take up too much space in your apartment or dorm room. Also, they make very little noise and they’re fun to watch if you’re having a stressful day at college.

If you’re interested in these furry little creatures, read more here!

Upsides

  • Hamsters don’t need a lot of work. You feed them and clean their cage– that’s it
  • As low maintenance pets for college students, they are perfect for small rooms
  • They are patient animals, but can get curious from time to time

Downsides

  • Hamsters are delicate, so they’re not ideal for very young kids
  • They chew on cables, so you have to keep them in a cage and away from any wires
  • They only live for roughly only 4 years (they may not see your college graduation)

3. Snails

Pet Snail

Do you want a pet with the same responsibility as taking care of a rock? If so, you should definitely consider getting a snail. These slimy beings are satisfied crawling their way around a medium-sized tank. Depending on the species, your tank may or may not have water in it.

If your pet fish died, you could get a snail to clean up the algae and other muck. Also, snails keep the glass clean as they roam around it.

However, you should be careful since snails can reproduce fast. Also, some species are predators and shouldn’t be placed in tanks with live fishes.

Banded snails are the most common species used as pets. You only need to set up a snail terrarium with fresh leaves and moist soil. This is to mimic their outdoor environment. For the terrarium, you can use a small or mid-sized aquarium.

Upsides

  • Very little work to do, just give them fresh leaves and keep their terrarium moist
  • No noise or immediate needs that you need to address
  • They keep the glass of the terrarium clean
  • Can be purchased anywhere
  • You can paint their shell using safe materials

Downsides

  • Snails can get boring over time, plus it doesn’t suit all personality types
  • Most snails only live for 2 to 3 years

4. Hermit Crabs

low maintenance pets for college students

If you want to level up your snail ownership, you can consider getting a hermit crab. Unlike snails, hermit crabs live longer and with proper care, they can last for up to 20 years.

This crustacean is perfect for the lazy pet owner who wants to take care of something that moves. They are also fun to watch and they can be happy with just food and a simple terrarium.

The fun part here comes when the hermit crab changes its shell. You can even purchase colorful ones so your hermit crab can crawl into it once they outgrow their old shell. However, you should avoid painted shells as these may contain toxic substances that can poison your pet. Always look for shells that are specifically made and are safe for hermit crabs.

If you’re busy with school, hermit crabs will be the perfect pet. However, if you hate hearing clacking claws in the dark, you may need to place the hermit crab terrarium at the opposite side of the room.

Upsides

  • Very low maintenance
  • Hermit crabs have a long lifespan under proper care
  • You can give them new shells as they grow
  • Perfect for lazy pet owners

Downsides

  • Hermit crabs are susceptible to several kinds of poisons. If your dorm or apartment building is conducting regular pest control, you have to take additional precautions – such as ensuring that they are handled with clean hands and have a clean ecosystem.

5. Hedgehogs

Pet Hedgehog

Another rodent in our list is the adorable hedgehog. Of all the available species, the most commonly domesticated ones are the African pygmy hedgehog. Although spiky, a hedgehog’s chest is covered with soft fur – perfect for petting. With proper care, their quills won’t be a problem or a safety issue.

Moreover, hedgehogs can live for up to six years with proper care. However, you should get them from a responsible breeder to ensure that they are healthy and free from disease.

Also, hedgehogs aren’t demanding when it comes to food. They eat a combination of vegetables, worms, and crickets. Also, these small pets can thrive in small to medium-sized cages.

You should know that hedgehogs are nocturnal animals so they will be asleep for most of the day. At night, they love running on the wheel, so make sure that you provide them one to keep them busy. Aside from that, you should keep a small tray of water and food ready.

Upsides

  • Very cute and easy to take care of
  • Doesn’t make too much noise aside from their active running at night
  • Hedgehogs can thrive in small cages with proper care
  • Fun to watch, perfect low maintenance pets for college students

Downsides

  • You have to be careful with their quills
  • They can be very sensitive, especially if you don’t respect their nocturnal habits

If you’re interested in learning more about hedgehogs, check out our post here on Tips on How to Care for a Hedgehog as a Pet!

6. Guinea Pigs

Pet Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are cuddly and cute pets, which are the closest you can get to a dog or a cat. However, you should check with your college when it comes to owning guinea pigs, as they can be bigger than many rodents.

Guinea pigs, also known as a gerbil, are gentle and lovable pets. Their size suits dorm-living since they are small enough to fit in your arms, but not tiny enough that you can lose them easily. Additionally, the larger the cage, the better.

Although they are popular as test subjects, guinea pigs are adorable to watch as they love jumping around and squeaking happily.

Do you know what the best part about a guinea pig is? They are happy with a snack and a comfy place to sleep. Unlike hamsters and hedgehogs, they don’t prefer running on wheels. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know that guinea pigs shouldn’t be given wheels or balls.

As a nocturnal animal, they will sleep most of the day and wander silently around during the night. And hey, they make good company when you’re pulling an all-nighter.

Upsides

  • They love interacting with humans, so you should take them out of the cage from time to time. If you do have roommates, they should be willing to deal with your pet (this is true for just about every pet)
  • They are very, very, cute and they also love cuddling
  • Not picky eaters, although this varies from guinea pig to guinea pig

Downsides

  • They need a 4-foot cage, at the minimum, to stay happy. You have to factor this when moving into your dorm room or your new apartment
  • They only live for a maximum of 6 years. They should be able to make it through most people’s college years

7. Tree Frogs

If you’re into amphibians, you’ll be intrigued by and love tree frogs. They don’t need a lot of space initially, and they have a feisty spirit that may suit your personality. It’s worth noting that eventually, you will need to upgrade their tank size once they grow bigger. You’ll also need to make sure that they have proper heating, substrate, and diet. Both frogs and lizards need enough space, proper heating, maintenance/care, and diet to properly thrive and grow. Once their terrarium is properly set up, there isn’t much maintenance beyond that point besides feeding them and ensuring that their environment is clean.

Also, they have vibrant colors that will add a nice touch of diversity to your room.

However, you have to be careful since these pets are gentle and they love jumping around. Some species are easier to take care of than others, and some may be more picky than others when it comes to food.

As one of the best low maintenance pets for college students, many tree frogs don’t get typically large, and can be relatively easy to take care of, especially once you’re more familiar with their needs.

Depending on the type of frog you have and the level of care, tree frogs may live between 3 and 15 years. 

We always recommend that you look for captive bred tree frogs so you’re assured of the health condition of the frog.

Upsides

  • Not demanding of space and very easy to keep
  • Not too loud, females will be much more quiet than males, as males will croak often
  • Fun to watch and hold

Downsides

  • Not for everyone, especially those who don’t like amphibians
  • More expensive than other low maintenance options
  • Easy to lose, especially if you don’t place them inside a sealed terrarium

8. Leopard Geckos

Pet Leopard Gecko

Do you want a small lizard friend? You can consider getting a leopard gecko. Aside from its petite size and attractive patterns, leopard geckos also have a mild disposition. Although it’s a small pet, leopard geckos add a wonderful breathtaking variety of colors to your dorm room.

In addition, leopard geckos love being held, which makes them a safe pet for college students who want a little cuddle-buddy and a stress-reliever.

A leopard gecko will be a great option for a dorm. They, similar to amphibians and other reptiles, need proper materials and an adequate sized terrarium to be properly cared for. They aren’t too picky with food and they’re relatively clean and not messy. Usually, they will poop and pee on one side of a cage, making cleanup quick and simple.

Upsides

  • Perfect for those who don’t want a bigger sized pet
  • Leopard geckos love being held
  • A very clean pet

Downsides

  • It’s easy to lose due to its small size
  • More expensive than rodents and fluffy alternatives

9. Other Lizards

Pet Leopard Gecko

Aside from leopard geckos, you can explore other lizards like bearded dragons, crested geckos, gold-dust day geckos, and more. However, some of these unique species may need special permits and documentations to own legally.

These scaly pets are low maintenance pets for college students, plus they tend to live long, if properly cared for. Depending on the type of lizard you’re interested in, some may need much more care and maintenance than others. If you aren’t comfortable handling bugs or any other creepy crawlies, lizards typically won’t be a good choice for you. Their diet consists of many bugs and other creatures that many people won’t be comfortable interacting with.

Upsides

  • Very organized and clean pet
  • Easy to maintain and doesn’t get too big

Downsides

  • Lizards are delicate pets and should be handled properly
  • More expensive initial costs than other alternatives

10. Fancy Mouse

Pet Fancy Mouse

One of the most common low maintenance pets for college students are fancy mice. These are domesticated house mice that are very safe to keep as pets.

Take note – you should keep a pair of fancy mice together so they will stay happy. Also, never mix them with other rodents.

A great part about these little rodents is that you only need to give them a comfy place to stay, usually a wire cage. Also, you should give them a small water tray and food made of commercially available rodent mix. These cute critters will be a joy for many owners who don’t mind handling fuzzy animals.

Upsides

  • Very small and quiet pets
  • Easy to hold
  • Cheap

Downsides

  • Will chew wires and plastic items if set free without supervision
  • Small enough to lose if you have a larger living space

Final Words

These low maintenance pets for college students are just some of the animals you can get while staying in your dorm or apartment. No matter what your choice is, you should always check the college/dorm rules to prevent any potential issues that may arise.