Pets are so wonderful that nearly half of all households own one. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to own a pet, especially if you live in an apartment. That said, some pets are small and quiet.
The smallest and quietest pets are reptiles, rodents, fish, and crustaceans. Instead of barking or meowing, these animals express themselves through fascinating behaviors. Ironically, the quietest pets for apartments are often nocturnal (night-active), like snakes, crabs, hamsters, and rats.
Most small and quiet pets are referred to as ‘exotic’ because they’re rare in the pet world. That said, the benefit of owning a small pet is that you get to experience something new.
What Are the Quietest Pets?
The quietest pets tend to be reptiles, rodents, fish, and crustaceans. These animals don’t talk, and their squeaks and shuffles are quieter than your average pet.
The clear benefit of owning a quiet pet is getting a good night’s sleep. There’s no need to worry about your pet waking you (or the neighbors) up in the middle of the night.
When choosing a pet that’s quiet at night, you might instantly write off nocturnal (night-active) animals.
Intuitively, getting a diurnal (day-active) animal, like a tortoise, degu, dog, or guinea pig, seems better. After all, you’ll be on similar schedules, so you won’t be woken up in the middle of the night.
In truth, many of the smallest and quietest pets are nocturnal. For example, most snakes, lizards, and crabs are nocturnal; some rodents, like mice and rats, are also nocturnal.
Nocturnal doesn’t necessarily mean your pet can’t be quiet at night. If you choose an animal that’s quiet by nature (like a crab or snake), it’ll be quiet inside its enclosure, even at night. Also, there are things you can do to reduce night-time noise.
So, if you’re worried about getting a good night’s sleep, you shouldn’t rule out a nocturnal pet, as these can be some of the smallest and quietest animals.
Health Benefits of Owning a Small Pet
For a long time, we’ve known that dogs are good for pet owners’ health because they encourage daily exercise. Most small pets don’t need ‘walks,’ so can these pets still be good for our health?
The University of Exeter found that keeping fish and gazing into the aquarium reduces blood pressure, increases focus, and boosts well-being. This makes sense because something is calming about water.
Another study from TandF found that keeping pets (of all sizes) reduces loneliness because our pets keep us grounded and connected, no matter what’s occurring in our lives.
Perhaps one of the best things about small pets is they’re accessible. Not all small animals are easy to keep – finding the right small pet for your lifestyle is important.
Quiet Indoor Pets
The following pets are a mixture of reptiles, rodents, fish, and crustaceans. They’re all uniquely rewarding pets with a lot to offer, so find out which pet might suit your lifestyle best.
Although hamsters squeak occasionally, they’re not nearly as noisy as guinea pigs. Also, while hamsters are nocturnal, their night-time activities are unlikely to wake the neighbors.
You can do things to minimize the noise, like buying your hamster a silent exercise wheel.
Why are hamsters such great pets? Well, they’re cute, for starters. They’re also gentle, don’t need much space to thrive, and can live indoors comfortably.
Although omnivores, hamsters can thrive on a plant-based diet, making them eco-friendly pets. These cute little critters have an average life span of about 2 years, making them the ideal first pet for kids.
Hamsters don’t have the high-energy, boisterous personalities of other rodents like gerbils and guinea pigs, but they can be much noisier than hamsters. So, hamsters make the ideal quiet pet for apartments.
2/ Hermit Crabs
Although not soft and cuddly, hermit crabs make good pets. Quietness and tranquility are a big part of their charm. As an owner, you can peacefully watch your hermit crab crawl around its enclosure.
One of the most endearing things about hermit crabs is their distinctiveness from other crabs.
Hermit crabs crawl forward and backward instead of scuttling sideways. They also molt and renew multiple times throughout their 40-year lifespan, needing a new and bigger shell each time they molt.
The hermit crab ticks those boxes if you’re looking for an unusual pet to intrigue and captivate you. For those who have space in their apartment for a 20-liter tank, the hermit crab is ideal for a small home.
3/ Cory Catfish
Fish are peaceful pets, and their serenity is transmitted to us as we watch them, leaving us calm and relaxed. Perhaps that’s why so many people love to keep fish as pets.
If you’re new to fish ownership, the Cory catfish is an ideal choice. This is because its care requirements are VERY minimal, so it would be very hard to accidentally harm this fish.
Cory catfish are quite small, with somewhat translucent bodies – their tails almost blend into the water as they glide past. Many Cory catfish also have beautiful spotted patterns on their bodies.
Fish don’t make noise, though you should factor in the time and noise it would take to clean the tank (about once every 2 weeks). An aquarium filter may make very little noise, but you can minimize this by keeping it clean and servicing it regularly.
Small fish like Cory catfish need friends to feel safe, so you should keep a minimum of six, but these would easily fit in a 20-gallon tank.
4/ Nano Fish
If you like the idea of fish, but a 20-gallon tank is too big for your room, why not consider nano fish?
Nano fish still need to live in a group to feel safe, but since they’re so small, you could house them in a 5- or 10-liter tank, depending on the variety. They’re typically around 1-2 centimeters long.
The best thing about nano-fish is that they elicit the cute factor. According to neuroscience published in Frontiers, our brain produces a slew of positive emotions when we witness something cute.
To protect our species, we’ve evolved to find human babies cute, so anything ‘baby-like’ (including baby animals) generates similar reactions in our brains.
Like their rodent friend, the hamster, they aren’t completely silent as they’re curious creatures. That said, their squeaks are quiet, and you can set their cage up, so noise is kept to a minimum.
Mice are very clever little animals that can learn tricks. They’re also very sociable and sensitive creatures. An interesting article from Science found that mice may be capable of empathy.
In truth, empathy is difficult to define and measure, but the study found that mice experienced pain when they saw their cage mates going through pain.
Indeed, mice are very sociable animals, so they need to be housed with another mouse to stay healthy. Watching two mice play together can be great fun, so you’ll never get bored.
6/ Fidler Crab
In addition to the hermit crab, the Fidler crab is another great pet that’s small and makes minimal noise.
The male Fidler crab is a ‘storybook’ looking crab with a large claw that looks like a fiddle (or violin). Fascinatingly, Fidler crabs raise and lower these claws to communicate with each other.
These crabs are very peaceful and can live in a relatively small tank, although it’s important to provide the right level of salinity in their water.
Like hamsters and rats, they don’t have a very long lifespan (approx. 1.5 years), so they can work well as a pet if your plans are uncertain.
Some people are afraid of rats, but they make rewarding pets. Once again, rats aren’t the quietest animals because they love to scurry and explore, but they’re still quieter than a barking dog.
Rats are also among the most eco-friendly animals you can keep because accessories and grooming requirements are minimal, and most rat feeds are sustainable.
According to RSPCA, rats also have a short life span of about 2 years, so they can be ideal if you don’t want a pet that lives for many years.
8/ Corn Snakes
Aside from hissing occasionally, corn snakes don’t make any noise.
Corn snakes are friendlier than other snakes, as they tolerate handling very well and are unlikely to bite. They’re medium-sized snakes, so they can be kept in smaller apartments and homes.
Corn snakes are the best’ starter snakes’ because they’re easy to take care of. However, you’ll need to get used to feeding snakes live or pre-killed animals, such as mice and rats.
9/ Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu only barks when it considers itself under serious threat.
This small-sized dog was bred as a hunting dog in Japan, although it has become a popular pet worldwide. It’s the ideal apartment pet because it’s quiet and prefers to stay clean.
Shiba Inu dogs are relatively independent, so they don’t become clingy. They’re good-natured, energetic, obedient, and loyal to their owners. Not to mention, they have cute faces – like a cross between a fox and a bear.
Shiba Inu are wary of strangers, so they might bark when visitors come over. However, encouraging your visitors to greet your dog in a non-threatening way minimizes the chances of barking.
Shibas need a fair amount of exercise, so while they’re quiet dogs, they’re not low-maintenance pets. Also, they’re an expensive breed of dog.
Tortoises are diurnal (day-active), so you can observe their behavior throughout the day.
Some tortoises can grow to be very large, and some need outdoor space to be healthy. However, certain breeds like the Hermann’s tortoise or Russian tortoise stay small and can usually be kept indoors, ideally with occasional outdoor access.
A Hermann’s or Russian tortoise won’t grow any bigger than 30 cm, so they can make a good indoor pet, although you’ll need to get a suitable tank or enclosure.
TIt can be quite expensive to get their initial set-up, and they can live for many decades. For this reason, tortoises aren’t the right pet for everyone.
Are All Small Pets Low Maintenance?
While small pets (like rodents, fish, and reptiles) are often quieter than cats and dogs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re low maintenance.
Reptiles and fish often have specific environmental conditions that need to be maintained, or they could become sick. Rodents also need regular stimulation and cage cleaning to stay healthy.
The truth is that all pets require investment and maintenance, so it’s important to consider your options carefully before making a decision.
By carefully considering the noise level of different pets, you’re starting as a responsible pet owner.