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The Quietest Pets for Apartment Living

Wanting a pet seems to be some kind of ingrained human need. But it seems our ability to choose any pet we want is somewhat hampered by our living conditions. So we need to adapt. Quiet pet choices are important to keep harmony with your neighbors, the landlord, condo board, and sometimes within your own family.

Some of the following pet choices are totally silent, and some will make a little noise that should not be heard outside your home. Hopefully you will find something on the list that will bring a little more happiness and contentment to your world.



8 Quietest Pet Species 

I have kept this list to species (with a few individual animals) rather than try to list all of the possibilities, such as a couple of hundred different types of fish. As you can see, some of the potential pets require daily care and feeding, while some need much less. Knowing how much effort you will need to put in, and how much you want to put in will help with your final quiet pet decision.


1) Fish

Clownfish near Coral Reef

Although not very cuddly, fish are the only pet that qualifies as absolutely quiet. A fish tank can quite often be a focal point in the room. Depending on aquarium size, the decorations inside, and the number and type of fish, it can be a very attractive part of your house. Fish tanks in office settings are usually an attraction for almost anyone who comes in. A big advantage of fish is you can be interested for as long as you want, then ignore them completely.

When you first buy your fish, aquarium, and decorations, you should get all of the care and cleaning information you need for healthy long-living pets. As long as they are fed regularly and cleaned occasionally. The only noise you might hear is the sound of the pump and filter working. Even this should never be heard next door or even down the hall.


2) Reptiles

Almost all reptiles are the next thing to silent. Generally, the most noise they are responsible for occurs when they escape, and scare the bejesus out of someone who screams the house down.



Person Holding Red and Black Snake

The choice of snake species as pets runs from 2″ Garter snakes to 12′ Boa constrictors. Basically from the mildly curious owner to the nuts. Generally, if a snake makes any noise at all, it will be a quiet gentle hiss, which dissipates in 3 or 4 feet.

Snakes do not require a lot of space–usually an aquarium. They are very low maintenance with mature snakes needing to be fed about once a week. They are not party animals, so keep then away from loud speakers and TV.

Note: Until a few years ago Garter snakes were thought to be completely non-venomous. Not true. They possess small amounts of neurotoxic venom which will cause itching, burning, and swelling at the site of the bite. There are rare instances of allergic reactions. Anyone who suffers from anaphylaxis should talk to a doctor before getting the quiet garter snake as a pet.



Veterinarian Holding a Blue-Tongued Lizard

Before ignoring these interesting animals because of the one that scared the heck out of you in Grandma’s garden, consider the following lizards.

  • Geckos. Geckos have become a fairly popular pet choice in recent years. Some of the 1500 different Gecko species sold as pets are common house Geckos, Leopard Geckos, crested Geckos, and Tokay Geckos, among others. Most of them will make quiet clicking, chirping, or hissing noises. Apparently, the Tokay Gecko is well known for its loud mating call.  That kind of racket will not make you many friends.
  • Water Dragons. Although a water dragon can grow to over 3′ long, unlike their namesake, they are fairly docile animals. They make good quiet pets. Before buying one, you should be aware that they crave frequent and careful handling, which helps make them friendly and calm pets. They can be fairly fragile, so supervision is a must if a child is going to handle the lizard. Water Dragons do not like sudden movements or loud noises.
  • Bearded Dragons. Bearded Dragons have also become popular pets in the last few years. They are very quiet because they use head bobbing and arm waves to communicate. They are not vocal. They have a calm disposition and do not mind being handled. Before rushing out to get one, you should know that they require specialized equipment which will make them a little more pricy than other pets. Also keep in mind that you will have to feed them between 40 and 60 live roaches, worms, or crickets every day. 



Baby Turtle on Human Hand

Turtles are also very quiet pets–interesting and different. But before buying one, or more, there are a few things to consider. 

  • Longevity. Some turtles will live for over 30 years. Be sure that your family is ready for that kind of commitment. It can be worse than buying your kid a dog, then getting stuck with it when he/she leaves home.
  • Size. Some of those little silver dollar-sized turtles can grow up to a foot in diameter. So unless you set up the large turtle habitation right off the bat, you may be making it bigger more than once. 
  • Cost. Turtle homes require lots of water and an area big enough for basking. They eat in the water, and frankly, are a mess. The water has to be changed regularly and the area cleaned.
  • Food. Turtles require a varied diet, including pellets, mealworms, live insects, worms, fruit and vegetables. 

Because of all of the above, turtle pets are a real commitment. It is a good idea to think long before purchasing.


3) Rodents

Close Up Photography of Hamster

Many species of rodents are kept as pets, and have been favorites for decades, if not centuries. Although most of them will make squeaking noises upon occasion, the sounds tend to be quite soft, and should not disturb family or neighbors. 

Generally, the commitment required for rodent pets is much shorter because their lifespans are between one and six years. Also, most rodents live quite happily in a relatively small cage, making them ideal for apartments. One noise a rodent could make is the constant squeaking/squealing of an unlubricated exercise wheel. Most rodents are nocturnal, meaning that the wheel could be going most nights.

Some of the more popular choices of rodent pets.

  • Mice and Rats. For more information on choosing mice or rats as pets, please see ratvsmouse.com
  • Guinea Pigs. Guinea pigs make great quiet pets for older children.  They have longer life spans than mice or rats.
  • Hamsters. Hamsters have been known to run on an exercise wheel most of the night. The sound could be annoying for light sleepers if the animal is in the bedroom.
  • Gerbils. Unlike Guinea pigs, Gerbils are social animals. They get lonely without a companion. Gerbil ownership is a fairly long term commitment. They will usually live 4 – 5 years.


4) Rabbits

Smiling Girl Holding Gray Rabbit

At one time rabbits were lumped in with rodents. They are not. Rabbits are a mammal.

Rabbits are very quiet most of the time, although they can get vocal if you are playing with them. The sounds they make seem to be a combination of a barking, throat-clearing oink. Sort of. It is not tremendously loud and should not disturb anyone next door, or even in the next room. They will also occasionally thump a rear leg. (Usually only once when they are annoyed with you.) Rabbits live for 8 to 10 years and need to be fed and cared for daily. So before buying, make sure you are ready for that type of commitment.

Rabbits do better in pairs. Just make sure to neuter them if you have a male and female, because there is usually a reason for old sayings, and you could soon be blessed with way more rabbits than you intended if nature takes its course.


5) Ferrets

A Woman Holding a Ferret

Ferrets are often placed in the rodent family. They are actually of the same family as weasels. 

Ferrets can live up to 10 years and require daily cleaning and 3 -4 hours of ‘outside the cage’ exercise each day, making owning them a fair sized commitment. They are sociable animals and should be bought in pairs. Highly inquisitive, they will dig, burrow, chew, and pull things apart. They need to be supervised whenever out of the cage to prevent damage to your belongings.

Ferrets do make fairly soft noises that should not be heard by the neighbors or other members of your family. Noise may not be your biggest concern. Ferrets stink–especially the males. Not quite so bad when neutered. Daily cleaning is helpful but will not cure the disease.

Note: Owning ferrets as pets is illegal in some states and countries.

You can follow this link to ferret noises.


6) Hedgehogs

Photo of Hedgehog Resting on Person's Hand

Hedgehogs are also not rodents. (But porcupines are.)

Besides a little grunting or snuffling, hedgehogs are very quiet animals. They are quite solitary and territorial so having only one as a pet will be your best choice. Hedgehogs sleep most of the day and can be up all night. Make sure its exercise wheel is well lubricated or it could keep you awake at night. 

An average lifespan of 4 – 6 years requires a fair sized commitment from anyone wanting these as a pet.

Note: Hedgehogs can pass diseases on to humans–including Salmonella and some fungal and viral infections.


7) Cats

Woman Lying On Bed With Two Cats

Cats can make good quiet pets. They tend to spend much of their lives sleeping. The meow noises they are likely to make are usually only occasional and fairly quiet. Many apartment buildings will not allow dogs, but will allow cats. They can be noisy if they are chasing something around on a hardwood floor, or when they get up on the kitchen counter and push glasses onto the floor. 

Cats require very little maintenance–food, water, and a litter box will keep them happy for the day, or even longer. They are clean, cuddly, and can be quite entertaining. (Keep in mind that some cats can be flat-out nasty.) 

Cats live an average of 15 years. Meaning that you will have to make a reasonable commitment before getting one. But there is a way better chance of getting more enjoyment from a cat than a turtle (in my opinion). 


8) Birds

Cute small parakeet with bright blue plumage sitting on leafless branch in nature

Although some birds can be very noisy, here are a few that will adapt well to apartment living, and not disturb the neighbors. Most birds are easy to take care of. Keep them in food and water and clean the cage weekly.

  • Budgies. Budgies are the third most popular pet in the world after dogs and cats. They tend to chatter quietly all day, but do not scream like parrots. Even after you teach them to talk, the chances of disturbing neighbors or family members in other rooms are very small. Covering the cage at night will keep them quiet while you are sleeping. Budgies live 5 – 8 years, and are very easy to take care of. They can be very social with their owners but still need toys to keep their interest during the day. (Note: They also have a nasty bite.)
  • Canaries. Like their other finch cousins, canaries are not real fond of being handled. They sing fairly constantly–very pleasantly and generally not loud enough to disturb the neighbors. (And your neighbor would have to be awful Grinch-like to be offended by canary song.) Canaries regularly live 10 – 15 years. Like most bird pets, they are fairly easy to care for. Make sure they always have water. They can die in 24 hours without.
  • Parrotlets. These quiet little birds can be keeping you company for 15 to 20 years. Even the most sensitive ears will have a hard time hearing their soft chatter and chirping. These are small energetic birds that you need to spend time with every day to keep them tame. Parrotlets are inquisitive and like to be out of the cage exploring. (Note: Quite often prepared pet store parrotlet feed is not suitable for them–too much fat. Do a little research and make sure you provide the correct combination.)

End Notes

Here are a few other very quiet apartment pets you might want to consider.

  • Pet Rocks. This absolutely silent pet went out of favor in 1979, but was re-introduced in 2012. It does not need to be fed, watered, cleaned, or taken for a walk. The pet rock is the perfect pet for apartment dwellers. For more on this exciting pet please see Wikipedia – Pet Rock.
  • Tamagotchi. Pet Tamagotchis can make a little more noise than pet rocks, but only if you decide to interact with them. If you leave undisturbed, they will be totally silent. They do not need to watered, cleaned, or taken for a walk. But they occasionally may need to be fed a new battery. For more information on this quiet apartment pet please see Wikipedia – Tamagotchi.

Terry Schutz

I have worked as a contractor, sales person, and business owner in the construction industry for over three decades--mostly in home renovations and also as a home builder. I have been married to the same wife for 46 years. We have 3 children and 4 granddaughters. I have also been writing semi-professionally for about 20 years--construction articles, personal stories, and politically incorrect social commentary.

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