College can be an intense and stressful period in anyone’s life.
During this time, you may consider getting a pet for companionship, comfort, or even just to have a source of joy.
But you’ll need to consider how much time and space you’re able to give your new companion.
The best pets for college students are those that don’t need a lot of space and are easy to take care of.
The decision to get a pet should be taken seriously.
Pets take money, time, and energy that you may or may not have during college.
Can College Students Have Pets?
Some colleges allow pets, while others don’t.
Many colleges will have a list of pets allowed in student housing — most of the time, these are small animals, such as fish or hamsters.
Why Bring Pets to College?
Pets can increase the quality of life for college students.
Should I Get a Pet as a College Student?
Your decision to get a pet should weigh on many factors.
Even with low-maintenance pets, you’re going to need the time to provide care, buy all the necessities they need, and provide them with enrichment and socialization.
You’ll also need to consider your living situation and the space you have to put a pet.
Your roommates (if you have any) should be okay with a pet.
You also need adequate space for them and the storage of their food or other essentials.
If you struggle with time management or low motivation and energy, you may not be able to give some pets the attention they need.
What To Look For in a Pet for College Students
There are basic questions to consider when looking for a pet — at any time during your life.
In college, these questions should take others in the dorm into consideration as well.
Easy To Take Care Of
In college, a pet that’s easy to take care of may be the best option.
More demanding pets are going to take more time, money, and energy — stuff that you likely won’t have much of if you’re enrolled full-time.
A pet that’s easy to care for can also be less stressful to own.
If the only thing you need to remember to do every day is to feed your pet and change their water, you’re more likely to enjoy owning them.
Having more daily tasks like walking, socializing, handling, and playing with a pet can be something you enjoy.
But if you’re pressed for time or can barely leave your bed once you finish classes, these tasks can become burdens.
Within School’s Guidelines
Ultimately, your living situation is going to be a large factor in what type of animal you get.
You’ll find pet guidelines on your school’s website or in the student handbook.
Most colleges allow small caged pets and fish but have regulations in regards to the tank and cage sizes permitted.
A pet will share the same space as you and any other students in your dorm room or housing.
Even if you’re in a more isolated area, a noisy pet can get on your nerves while pulling an all-nighter, studying for an exam, or just trying to relax.
A loud pet is going to draw noise complaints from roommates, or others in the dorm that can hear it.
Noise level is also likely to be included in your college’s pet guidelines.
If you’re sharing your space with anyone, you should be considerate of any allergy concerns a pet may bring.
Your roommates, and any other people your pet will share a space with, should be okay with the pet.
Best Pets for College Students
The best option for you doesn’t have to be an animal listed here, but these are some of the best pets for college students.
Lizards can make great beginner pets for those who don’t want a furry or feathery friend.
It’s important to research everything that goes into owning a lizard — including the size and lifespan of the lizards you’re considering.
If this is your first foray into owning a lizard, make a smaller commitment.
These guys can need a lot of space, and some species can live for decades.
Snakes can make great, docile pets.
Some can be very friendly and stay small enough to fit in a moderately-sized tank.
Some good beginner snakes include:
- Ball pythons
- Corn snakes
- Milk snakes
If you decide to get a snake, it’s crucial to buy from a reputable source and research their care and any common problems associated with their species.
It’s important to note that companion bird species are typically not domesticated — so constant petting and handling can lead to undesirable behaviors.
Pet birds are best for those who don’t want an animal they have to handle but can still interact with in a more meaningful way than fish.
There are many things to consider when getting a pet bird, but their lifespan should be one of the crucial parts of your decision.
Many birds live at least five to eight years, but all species have documented cases of birds living years — sometimes decades — beyond their life expectancy.
People wanting a pet they can cuddle and handle often will find small rodents like hamsters the best fit.
Hamsters are active during the day and don’t need a large cage to be happy — though proper research should be done about appropriate cage sizes.
Rodents are still a huge commitment because of the amount of care they need.
If you can provide adequate socialization throughout the day, a hamster can be a great pet.
Fish are fantastic pets that require very little maintenance.
They can be rewarding animals to care for and provide a calming presence while looking beautiful.
The care that fish need varies by species, but most beginner fish require little daily engagement.
If you need companionship without much involvement, a fish can be a quiet friend to keep you company without demanding attention and extensive care.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about the best pets for college students.
What is a good pet for dorms?
The best pet for dorms will be one requiring a small enclosure that’s unlikely to cause issues with roommates.
Though snakes and lizards can make fantastic pets, more people may have concerns about sharing a space with them.
Fish are the most likely to be accepted by roommates, and hamsters may be the next best.
What is the easiest pet to care for?
All pets are going to require some amount of attention, time, money, and energy.
What pet is easiest to care for depends on the person.
Fish are easy pets, but snakes can also be fairly low-maintenance pets once you have established an adequate housing and feeding system.
What is the cleanest pet?
If cleanliness is a concern, birds may not be the best pet for you.
Hamsters and other small rodents can be trained to use an in-cage litter box, and in a large enough cage, waste is often confined to one area.
College can be a stressful and lonely time in anyone’s life, and a pet can be a great source of companionship.
Bringing home a pet in college can be a rewarding decision in the long run, but it can also become another source of stress if the decision wasn’t made after enough consideration.
The best pets for college students are low-maintenance, low-cost, and don’t need lots of space.
Leave a comment if you have any questions or pet suggestions!