21 Truly Low-Maintenance Pets Because a Dog Is Out of the Question

Getting a pet is a simple way to add a different dynamic to your home. But when you have roommates, kids in the family or work long hours, caring for a pet is not easy. Cue: low-maintenance pets. They of course need and deserve the same amount of TLC you’d give Fido, but these animals can be left to their own devices without (too many) worries. Check out this selection of 21 low-maintenance pets that are oh-so-easy to take care of. As with other animals, it's important that you conduct thorough research and talk to appropriate experts before you adopt a low-maintenance pet because these little guys are just as worthy of all the love you can give.

Does My Pet Secretly Resent Me for Being Home All the Time?

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1. Turtles

The very essence of a turtle is to be cool, calm and collected, and maintaining them is just as easy. Breeds like the African sideneck or the eastern box don’t grow beyond a foot long, so they can stay happy and healthy in a well-appointed terrarium. And while cleaning their space and providing fresh water is essential, turtles actually don’t need to be fed every day.

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2. Tortoises

Much like turtles, tortoises are mostly noise-free and stay out of the way. However, if you choose to get a tortoise you must be diligent about their diets as some species require a fair amount of vegetables, while certain breeds of turtles eat meat. Unlike turtles, tortoises need more room to roam, so be sure to invest in a spacious pen.

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3. Hamster

This one is probably an easy pick for the kids. Not only are they super adorable, but hamsters are also cost effective and even down for cuddles, should you feel compelled. (But they can also be left to their own devices.) In addition to food and water maintenance, make sure you provide enough toys for these interactive little mammals to play with.

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4. Betta Fish

Not only are they colorful and beautiful to look at, but they are also perfect for smaller spaces since they don’t require large aquariums. Sidenote: Male betta fish should be kept alone since they tend to get territorial with each other, but the ladies can cohabitate.

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5. Guppies

Guppies also make for great pet fish. They are not too fussy when it comes to sharing space and can get along with your other little sea creatures. Their diet mostly consists of regular fish food, though they’re known to have a particular palate for frozen bloodworms. Mmm.

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6. Parakeets

If you want a pet that asserts their presence without taking too much out of you, parakeets are perfect. They are not as chatty as parrots, but they love human interactions and can be trained to do simple commands such as stepping on and off your hand. Parakeets must be fed daily, however.

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7. Green Anole

While these little guys are low maintenance, they do have specific care requirements. They can thrive in 10-gallon tanks or terrariums as long as they're set up correctly. As with other reptiles, green anoles require special heating, lighting and humidity in their living environments, so make sure you're well-informed before taking these babies on.

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8. Sea Monkeys

Talk about hands-off. These little guys are the quintessential pick for people who want to have something to look at without having to constantly interact. Sea monkeys only need to be fed every five to seven days and outside of ensuring that their tank is in great conditions, you don’t have to worry about them.

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9. Goldfish

Like betta fish, goldfish are a sight for sore eyes and they come in many varieties so you'll be spoiled for choice. They can grow anywhere between eight to 24 inches, so they require a spacious tank or aquarium—not bowl. Goldfish tend to be messy, so make sure you're cleaning their living spaces frequently.

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10. Butterflies

So, you have a fifth grader who is finally learning about metamorphosis, what better way to show them the process than to get some caterpillars for the home. Don’t worry, if you’re not into crawlies, they’ll turn into beautiful butterflies in a week. If you’re not committed to having a pet for the long haul, their lifespan—from caterpillar to fully formed butterfly—is only six to eight months. Added bonus: You only need sticks for them to move around on and they feed on common plants. Oh, and they’re pretty to look at.

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11. Tarantulas

If you’re one of those cool, ballsy people without arachnophobia, treat yourself to a pet tarantula. These bad boys only require that you keep them in a dark area of the house, away from any sunlight…because…of course. Tarantulas can grow to be about ten inches (ahhh!), so they’ll need a spacious terrarium. And they do feed on live insects such as crickets, mealworms, super worms and roaches, so trips to the pet store will be…lively.

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12. Leopard Gecko

Not the type to help you save on car insurance, but the type to make long-term, easy-to-care-for pets. Leopard geckos have a lifespan of about 20 years and can easily cohabitate with each other. They don’t require too much space—a 15-to 20-gallon tank will do the trick—and they feed on crickets, wax worms and meal worms.

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13. African Dwarf Frogs

These guys are great if you need a pet to bring some zen into the space. According to the pros at Pet Helpful, African dwarf frogs are aquatic amphibians which means they live underwater, so making sure they’re living in clean, filtered water is paramount. Their tank needs to have enough room for them to be able to swim around and come up for air when needed. African dwarf frogs don’t need much human interaction, so it’s advisable to get several in a tank

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14. Rats

This might sound traumatic to any big city dweller, but hear us out. Rats (the ones that don’t live in the subway tracks) are small, affectionate and easy to take care of since all you need is a well-ventilated cage, some toys and appropriate food. Their habitat needs to be frequently changed, but other than that, make sure they get some exercise outside their cage and you’re good to go.

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15. Mice

Just like rats, mice also have a bad rep, but when it comes to pets, these fuzzy creatures don’t cause a lot havoc if they’re well-taken care of. Mice also require a well-ventilated cage, some toys, but can eat any food suitable for humans. Because they are very active, some play time outside their cage is also highly recommended.

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16. Snakes

Not for the faint of heart, but snakes can make for very easy pets to have around the house. It is of the utmost importance that if you’re going to buy a snake, you do so from a reputable vendor so as to avoid any issues, legal or health wise. Once that’s all sorted out, however, snakes are generally easy-peasy lemon squeezy. They spend most of their time sleeping or laying still and require infrequent feeding. Some breeds like the brown house snake or the California king snake even go two weeks without eating and some become friendlier the more they get used to being handled.

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17. Snails

These don’t necessarily add to the dynamic of your home, but it’s nice to know they’re there. Assassin snails, for example are not the best standalone pets, but they can add some diversity to your aquarium if you invest in fish or sea monkeys. Garden snails have also been known to be low-maintenance pets. All you need is some fruit and vegetables to feed them and a tank that gets an adequate amount of moisture.

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18. Hermit Crab

They may look intimidating, but hermit crabs are actually super chill once they get acquainted to their environments— though they will snip if they feel threatened, so a soft touch is key when handling them. Hermit crabs are the quintessential low-maintenance pets since the sand at the bottom of their tanks only needs to be changed three times a year—weekly scooping is recommended, however. Though they eat pellet food, hermit crabs can also ingest bits of your leftovers, just be careful not to give them anything with garlic, onion or citrus.

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19. Bearded Dragon

No, this isn’t something out of Harry Potter, but actually a popular pet lizard. Once you set them up with the appropriate heat, light and humidity, bearded dragons make for easy pets. They eat live insects, which you can purchase at a pet store, as well as limited portions of fruits, vegetables and greens. These reptiles are also known to be well-tempered, so you can even put them on a leash and take them out for a walk if you can handle the incoming stares.

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20. Praying Mantis

Easy to maintain and even easier to acquire—they can be found in most backyards! They only grow to about six inches, so all you need is a cage big enough to give them some roaming room. Their diet is also quite diverse, and they eat everything from moths and fruit flies to instars and smaller mantes (eek).

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21. Cats

Cats are notoriously independent. British shorthair cats, in particular, are a quite hands-off breed for those who want a furry friend who is not so needy, but also not a praying mantis. Evenly tempered, these guys get along with other cats, dogs and children. Just make sure you teach your kids not to jostle them around as they don’t fancy too much human interaction.

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Stephanie Sengwe

Resident Hufflepuff, Beyonce historian, self-proclaimed tea sommelier

Steph is a native of Zimbabwe who is both enamored and genuinely baffled by the concept of silent letters. From 2020 to 2022, she served as Associate Editor at PureWow covering...
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