The best small pets are a great way to introduce a cute companion (or two) into your home without feeling like they’re encroaching on your space.
We love cats and dogs as much (if not more) than the next animal lover. But with their energetic personalities, inquisitive nature and need for training, these furkids can require a lot of time, effort and space to roam.
Of course, small pets need lots of tender loving care too. But you can love these small treasures without having them take up copious amounts of square footage. For example, the best small fish tanks can be placed on a spare surface and comfortably house a small school of fish. While the best indoor rabbit hutches will keep your little hopper safe and entertained while only taking up around 3m x 2m of ground space.
These small but just-as-loveable creatures are ideal for those just starting out on their pet parent journey or young kids, as it introduces them to the world of pet ownership and all the responsibilities that come with it. The good news is that we’ve compiled a list of the best small pets to consider if you’re looking to bring some animal magic into your habitat.
25 best small pets
Measuring at 0.24 to 0.29 inches, the Photocorynus Spiniceps is believed to be the smallest fish in the world. While low-maintenance goldfish grow between 2 to 10 inches. All you need is some of the best fish food, one of the best fish tanks and you’re good to house your aquatic amigos.
With most rabbits weighing anywhere between 2.2–4.4 lbs, these small-but-demanding creations are one of the tiniest pets you can own. Just remember, they are social creatures and happiest when living in small groups.
These petite rodents might not necessarily be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a small pet. But averaging around nine to 11 inches long, the humble rat can be a very smart (and loving) member of your fur family. Why not house your scurrying friend in one of the best pet rat cages?
Talking of rodents, how about housing a small pet mouse? Generally speaking, mice are usually around two to four inches long, with a tail about the same length and can be kept in a wire cage with a plastic tray floor.
The best hamster cages provide a safe space for your pocket pet to live indoors all year round. But just bear in mind that these cuddly creatures are naturally nocturnal, so think carefully before choosing where to position their home.
Similar looking to hamsters, these desert dwellers are diurnal (which means they’re active during the day). They can reach between two inches to over eight inches in length and that excludes their tails.
7. Guinea pigs
There are seven popular guinea pig breeds. But the relatively small American/English breed tends to be the most popular. If cared properly for, these furry companions can live for up to five to seven years.
Although they are generally small creations, these intelligent rodents can grow to nine to 14 inches in length and this is without an added three to six inches for their bushy tail. But note: chinchillas require a high level of care in order to thrive, so do read our chinchilla care guide.
9. Sugar Glider
Inquisitive, playful and intelligent, these miniature nocturnal possums love nothing more than to curl up in a hand or pocket. Growing to around five to 12 inches long, they make for some of the best smallest pets.
Ranging from one to six pounds and 18-22 inches in length, these emotional support animals sleep for around 18-20 hours a day. Just remember to do your research, as keeping a ferret as a pet is illegal in some states.
These cute little critters might have a spiky exterior, but they have a heart of gold. Usually, an adult hedgehog's body is around eight to 11 inches long, while their spines measure around one to two inches in length.
Interested in homing a bird? Relatively small in size and full of color, Lovebirds are one type of pet parrot that makes for a great animal to welcome into your home. They won’t speak much but they will utter some words.
13. Hermit crabs
These super tiny crabs range in size from ½ inch to four inches and can make for a perfect small pet that doesn’t require loads of interaction, especially during the day as they are nocturnal. They’re best kept in an aquarium.
You might also know these birds as budgerigars or budgies. But whatever you prefer to call these feathery friends, know that they make for some of the best small pets. They do require some interaction though so try playing a handful of the top games for birds to keep them entertained.
15. Leopard gecko
Hailed as a popular beginner's reptile, these small and delicate creatures are easy to look after and grow up to around eight to 10 inches in length. Feed them several insects and crickets a day, house them in a clean tank and they’ll be happy.
These intelligent and highly sociable rodents are best described as a cross between a guinea pig and a supersized gerbil. But ranging between 10-12 inches long, they’re still one of the smallest pets you can own.
17. Crested gecko
Fancy being the proud owner of a lizard? Crested geckos are great small pets thanks to their beautiful markings, small stature and low maintenance needs. The only trouble you’ll have is deciding on how many to get.
Brightly colored, these lizards are known for their large throat fans, or dewlaps, which allow them to communicate. Growing between five to 18 inches, there’s never a dull moment with these color-changing creatures.
If you're looking for a truly unique small pet, then look no further than an Axolotl. Despite their unusual appearance, the amphibians aren’t hard to care for. Give them the right aquatic environment to thrive and your small salamander can live up to 15 years.
20. Dart frogs
Dart frogs make for the best first pets for children and are ideal for those new to keeping pets as frogs, especially if they’re of the black or green species. Requiring minimal amounts of space, these little guys only grow up to one and a half inches.
One of the best small exotic small pets? A millipede. If you’re not creeped out by their quick-moving legs, millipedes make calm and tolerant pets. Plus, you can find small specimens that grow between an inch and five inches in length.
Got your heart set on a pet that’s not furry? Then a turtle could be what your home has been missing. These shell-clad sensations can live for decades and are bound to become a much-loved part of the family.
23. Sea monkeys
Also referred to as brine shrimp if you love under-the-sea creations, sea monkeys could be the perfect fit for your four walls. Growing half an inch to 3/4 of an inch in length, these small swimmers make for wonderful aquatic additions.
Bear with us! Snails have to be one of the easiest pets to look after. Making zero noise, requiring minimal room and growing to just four to eight inches long, Just keep these slow movers in a tank big enough to explore and well fed and you’ll have a happy-shelled gastropod.
Of course, these creepy crawlies won’t be for everybody. But tarantulas require minimal maintenance, space and are super docile making them great pets for small homes and those who are new to being a pet parent.
Get the best advice, tips and top tech for your beloved Pets
Becks is a freelance lifestyle journalist who has more than 9 years of experience in the world of digital and print journalism. She covers health, wellness and family interests for a range of titles. When she's not putting pen-to-paper (or finger-to-keyboard) she's reading, in the gym, or taking her Dog Aunt title very seriously looking after the handful of four-legged creatures in her life.