No maintenance, no huge commitment, no lawyers needed: Renting an apartment is ideal in many ways -- except for how it limits your choice of pets.
Sure, there are plenty of pets suited for smaller spaces and sound-sensitive neighbors (see our stories " Best Pets for Apartments," " Best Dog Breeds for Apartment Living," and " Best Cat Breeds for Apartment Living"). But it can be tricky to tell whether the cute critter you're picturing on your couch will actually work out. Good thing we did the research for you!
"Exotic animals, small animals, and birds require more care and space than most people can provide," says Katie Arth, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. So save yourself the headache (and heartache) of an ill-fated pet pick and don't consider bringing home these animals. Your furniture, friends in the building, and future self will thank you!
1. Green iguana
The green iguana is one of the most common reptiles in pet stores today. Nearly 1 million of these baby lizards are imported to the U.S. annually, according to Reptiles Magazine. But their needs as young'uns are significantly different from what you'll have to provide your reptilian charge once it's fully grown. Did we mention that they can grown up to 7 feet long? That size means you'd need an enclosure at least 12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 6 feet high.
"Then there are their heat and light issues," says Bedford Hills, NY, veterinarian Laurie Hess. One overhead heat bulb is enough for a baby iguana, but at least six heat lights will be needed to warm an adult iguana.
"And in lots of apartments, you can't control the heat," Hess adds, "so you won't be able to adjust the temperature of their environment and will put the iguana at risk."
2. Pot-bellied pig
Who doesn't love an adorable little pig? But there's a world of difference between the behavior of fictional pigs such as Peppa Pig or Winnie the Pooh's buddy Piglet and a sow sitting in your living room. Yes, pot-bellied pigs can be extremely smart, house-trained, and leash-trained, but they won't lose all of their wild habits when they're in your home. To satisfy their natural instinct to root with their snouts and dig into the ground, pigs in an apartment will turn over wastebaskets and even scrape into the floor.
"They can be very messy to have in an apartment," says Hess, author of the upcoming book, "Unlikely Companions." "And they are very, very loud if something upsets them. Even simply shining a light in their eyes can make them scream to the point that people think they're being hurt." During her veterinary practice in New York City, Hess says she had numerous pot-bellied pig patients.
"Their owners got them as babies, but they didn't realize that you have to walk them several times a day like a dog -- and that they can get incredibly heavy to carry up stairs." Pot-bellied pigs can grow up to 175 pounds,
Despite their popularity as pets, "ferrets belong in the wild, not in apartments inside tiny tanks or cages where they are denied the opportunity to forage," says PETA's Arth. "These animals have needs very different from a dog's or cat's and often end up neglected, euthanized in shelters, or abandoned outdoors once the novelty wears off or people realize that they're ill-equipped to provide them with proper care or space." Bummer.
Veterinarian Hess agrees that the creatures -- illegal in Hawaii, California, and some cities including New York -- simply aren't great apartment dwellers.
"They're very active and need lots of space to run around, jump, climb, hide, and burrow," she says, which could prove tricky in the average 900-square-foot apartment.
4. Big bird
You won't need an alarm in the morning with a macaw or cockatoo at your place. At sunrise and sunset large birds often squawk -- loudly -- for a good long while.
"The bigger the bird, the larger the screech," says Hess, who describes the screech as "ear-piercing." "So you have to be prepared for that. And if you have neighbors who don't like that, it's not the pet for you."
Large birds are quite messy, too. Prepare to clean up your floors and furniture daily, because they regularly toss their food -- and droppings -- around.
Justin Bieber says monkeys "are awesome" (like his Capuchin, which was infamously confiscated abroad in 2013), but that doesn't mean they make harmonious apartment pets.
"Regardless of whether you live in a studio, a house, or a mansion, they'll bite," says Hess. "They're wild animals and shouldn't be confined."
6. Sugar glider
Sure, these marsupials look like cute hamsters, but they need higher maintenance than your standard rodent pet. Also, these suckers fly!
"They need a lot of time out of their cage," says Hess. "They're very active, jumping and gliding." Even when they're caged, they require lots of room -- enough to contain toys as well as, ideally, at least one other sugar glider because they're such social animals. In the wild, they live in colonies of up to 30 gliders each. So unless you really love sugar gliders, it's best to steer clear.