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10 Best Pets For College Students – Dorm Room Pets
Computer, laundry basket, TV, shower shoes… You’ve crossed off everything on your dorm checklist—everything except the perfect pet. To get you prepped for those inevitable exams and help you decide which critter is right for you, read the following statement and fill in the blank.
The ideal dorm pet is ___________ .
c. low maintenance
e. all of the above
If your answer is “e,” here are ten pets that make awesome study buddies…or party pals.
10. Pet Rock
Want a pet but have absolutely no time to care for an animal? Then consider the ultimate no fuss friend, the pet rock. This 70s throwback makes a great pet because won’t interfere with your schedule. It does not need to be fed, groomed, trained or bathed.
Concerned about vet bills or riding the wave of emotion that occurs when you lose a pet? Well, no worries—your rock will not get sick, run away, or die. If you get bored with your rock, you can paint or decorate it and voila! You’ll have a “new” pet rock.
Although the original version of pet rock was discontinued in the mid-70s, it made a comeback in 2012. Authentic pet rocks (those made in 2012 or later) average about $20 and vintage rocks can range anywhere from $25 to $100. No cash to spare? Well, you could always go to the nearest beach or quarry and pick one up yourself…for free!
9. Burgundy Snail
The burgundy or Roman snail is a gastropod mollusk also known in the culinary world as escargot. Well, before you get any ideas about ditching your student meal plan, check out these reasons the burgundy snail would be better as your pet than on your plate.
Burgundy snails are both crepuscular and nocturnal, so their schedule works well with that of a busy collegian. While you’re in class, they’ll be curled up in their shells and when evening rolls around, you’ll both be ready to schmooze…or ooze.
They have two sets of amazing antennae that give them an alien-like appearance. One set sits high atop their heads and has eyes attached to the tips and a smaller set of olfactory antennae sits directly below. As with all land snails (and aliens), when not being used, both sets can be retracted.
Another great reason to buddy up with a burgundy snail is its lifespan. A well-kept snail can live up to 35 years. Not only will it have your back through college, but it could also be your best man or maid of honor, doula, nanny, and even help you pay off your student loans!
Before choosing a snail as a roomie, be sure it is a species that is legal to own in the U.S. Highly invasive species such as the apple snail and the African Land Snail have either been banned in the states or are illegal to move across state lines because they have no natural predators in North America, which enables those released into the wild to overpopulate and destroy crops, homes and infrastructures.
What pet doesn’t bark, doesn’t bite, never needs to go for a walk, comes in a wide range of colors and has a name that rhymes with puppy? Why, one of the world’s most popular tropical fish—the guppy.
One reason guppies make great pets is they are easy to care for. Just be sure to feed them (standard fish food will do), clean their bowl or aquarium regularly and keep the water temperature around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and your guppies could live up to two years or more.
Guppies are also fascinating to watch. Instead of laying eggs, they give birth to their little ones and you can sometimes see the babies’ eyes through their mother’s skin. Freaky, but cool. Speaking of freaky, ever flashback to that time you did what you did and mom went savage? Well, to keep their home from getting overpopulated, guppies occasionally go cannibal and eat their young. Freaky, not cool…but necessary.
And if you need to relax after a long day of classes, there’s no better way than to “Netfish and Chill.” Just put your feet up and watch your guppies swim to and fro in an aquatic wonderland.
7. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
Let’s be honest. If you’re a struggling college student, there’s a good chance you already share your place with at least one cockroach. His name is probably “Bob” and he’s the most inconsiderate roommate you’ve ever had. “Bob” eats all the leftovers, runs around leaving germs on everything, never pays his share of the rent and is always getting it on with the ladies, leaving hundreds of “li’l Bobs” in the wake…and in your walls. Why not get a roomie that is clean and respectful, like the Madagascar hissing cockroach?
Madagascar cockroaches are fantastic pets for insect lovers. They don’t carry germs or infest areas where humans live, and if you enclose them in a glass tank smeared from the top with a strip of olive oil or petroleum jelly, you will thwart any attempts to escape.
Madagascar cockroaches are lovers, not fighters. They are scavengers who don’t bite, can be easily handled, and trained to do basic tricks. Even when they emit their signature hissing sound, (which, by the way is as loud as a push lawnmower) it’s to ward off predators or attract a female.
Unlike “Bob,” the Madagascar cockroach only needs to be fed once a week. Dry cat food, roach-specific products, fruits and leafy vegetables will provide your roaches with the protein and nutrients they need. Just remember to immediately clean up the leftovers. Scraps that are left in the tank for more than a day may become moldy and kill your roaches.
Now that you’ve found a more considerate roommate, don’t you think it’s time give “Bob” the boot—both literally and figuratively?
6. Tree Frog
We all want a pet that is unique or looks cool. Well, the tree frog is unique, looks cool and is pretty darned cute, too. When it comes to charm, who needs a prince when you can have a tree frog?
Besides being adorable, tree frogs make great pets because there are so many different species, and each species has physical characteristics that makes it stand out from the others. Three of the most sought-after types are the red-eyed tree frog, gray tree frog and the Pacific tree frog.
Perhaps the most popular is the red-eyed tree frog. They are a bright “Kermit green” color, with large orange feet, blue and yellow sides, and large red eyes. Gray tree frogs have markings similar to a viper or rattlesnake, which is a clever way to ward off predators in the wild. The Pacific tree frog has the ability to change from brown to green and every shade in between. They can also morph from solid coloring to patterns and vice versa. Sometimes they even sport color combos, the most frequent being brown and green. This ability is triggered by seasonal fluctuation.
Tree frogs are very anti-social (which is easy on the budget), they don’t need a frog buddy, and prefer not to be handled. They have delicate skin and touching can be very uncomfortable for them. When your frog does need to be touched, be sure to wear gloves, as the oils on your skin can harm them. Also, some species are slightly toxic and can irritate your skin.
5. Hermit Crab
Want a friend that is nocturnal and will eat almost anything? You probably won’t have to look far. Just go to the nearest frat house or campus library…or get yourself a hermit crab.
Hermit crabs get their name from their ability to retract into the scavenged seashells and hollow scraps of wood or stone that protect their soft exoskeletons. As your crabs grow, they will need to move to progressively bigger shells. It is important to have a ready supply of shells on hand, in various sizes.
Hermit crabs are interesting to observe. They love to socialize and are best kept in groups of three or more with those of the same species. Pretty ironic, huh? In the wild, when it comes time to molt, they will simply exchange shells with another crab or fight with a competitor over a coveted “crab shack.” When your crabs molt, be sure to protect them by separating them from the others with a divider or moving the other crabs to a different tank.
Their diet runs the gamut from commercial hermit crab products to veggies, to non-citrus fruit, nuts, fish food and brine shrimp. They should always have fresh supply of non-chlorinated water at within reach, even if they don’t drink it. Sometimes plant moisture is enough to keep them hydrated.
Keep these tips in mind to keep your hermit crab from getting…well, crabby.
4. Betta Fish
There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but there are few quite as beautiful—and fierce, as the Betta.
Bettas come in vibrant shades and varied combinations of blue, green, red, yellow, purple, black, pink and white. Their tails also come in a variety of shapes that allow them to flourish gracefully about. These shapes include the veil, double, crown, half-moon, and short-finned fighting styles.
What’s in a name? Well, actually a lot. No, the Betta, or Siamese fighting fish, did not get its name from pledging a fraternity or sorority. Its name actually stems from its history as an aggressive, sporting fish. When pitting the naturally aggressive fish against each other became popular in the 1800s, they were nicknamed after the Bettah, an ancient clan of warriors. Bets were based on the fearlessness of the fish rather than how badly they beat their opponent. In tribute to their beauty, they are also referred to as “The Jewel of the Orient.”
As you might have guessed, bettas are unequivocally anti-social and must be housed alone, regardless of gender. While most tropicals are schooling fish and prefer sharing their space, bettas would rather swim alone and like to hide in caves and other aquatic furnishings.
Although these features are all great reasons to make the betta fish your next “ride or die,” perhaps its coolest feature is its ability as a labyrinth fish—a fish that can inhale oxygen directly from the air, like us. This unique attribute allows betta fish to survive out of water for brief periods of time as long as they are kept moist and will allow you to slack off a bit (as busy students often do) when it comes to changing your betta’s water.
If you want a pet that can fit in your pocket and be a classmate as well as a roommate, a hamster may be just the little friend you’re looking for.
Among adults and kids, the hamster is arguably the most popular pocket pet. They are cute, fare best when housed alone, come in several breeds and colors, and live an average of two years—so if you guys don’t get along, just wait…you’ll probably have an opening for a new roomie in a couple of years.
There are many different breeds of hamsters and these breeds come in several different colors and have traits that set them apart from each other. Syrian hamsters, dwarf hamsters and Chinese hamsters are the three main types of hamsters that can be found in pet stores. Chinese and dwarf hamsters only grow to be about four inches long. Syrian hamsters are the most common type of pet hamster. They are bigger than the Chinese and dwarf, and come in a variety of colors and have descriptive nicknames such as teddy bears, goldens and pandas.
Hamsters are very active and fun to watch. They love to play with toys and run around outside their cages, as well as on their exercise wheel. They also enjoy climbing, hiding in cute little houses and when tamed, being held by their humans. Hamsters are nocturnal and not typically aggressive, but will bite when startled. So, try not to wake yours up after a long night of partying.
2. Leopard Gecko
Let’s face it. Geckos are cool. So cool, they can walk, talk and pitch insurance…well, not really. But there is one gecko that is so cool, it can wear the markings of a wild animal while keeping its composure and swagger—the leopard gecko.
Leopard geckos have many unique physical characteristics. They are one of a small number of gecko species that has visible ears and eyelids, which is both weird and wonderful. Their eyes and ears are a great conversation starter, making them the ideal wingman or woman. You might even be able to train yours to wink at the cutie you’ve got your eye on.
Another reason leopard geckos make a great dorm pet, is that they can’t climb vertical surfaces because they lack the adhesive structures that most geckos have on their hands. This means you won’t have to cover their terrarium or worry about them escaping while you’re on campus.
Finally, let’s talk numbers. Leopard geckos can grow to be as long as 10 inches, almost as long as a small iguana and with proper care they can live as long as 20 years, almost as long as it takes to pay off a student loan.
Sometimes, dorm life can be lonely and bouts of homesickness come with the territory. Well, guess what? We’ve got a pet for that. The number one pet on our list qualifies as the “social butterfly” of dorm pets, which is ironic because it happens to be a bird—the parakeet.
Parakeets come in a brilliant array of colors and can provide hours of entertainment for you and your friends. They love to explore and play with all types of bird toys. Bells, hollow items and mirrors will make great playthings for your active compadre.
Once your bird is hand tamed, it will enjoy interacting with you. Eventually, your parakeet might even feel comfortable walking on you or even sitting on your shoulders to get close enough for a snuggle or scratch.
Need someone to talk to? Your parakeet will be happy to lend an ear. Male parakeets have the ability to mimic words and phrases, and females are capable of unintelligible chatter. As a matter of fact, they spend most of their time cheerfully yapping away the day to their humans, each other and if there is a mirror around, themselves. If you would like your parakeet to be fluent, make sure to speak to him every day. As we all know, practice makes perfect!
What kind of pet do you think is the best fit for a student living in a dorm? One that craves social interaction? Or a “lone wolf?”