Going off to college and being away from family and old friends can be a lonely and difficult transition for many students. Moving into a dorm or student housing with people you don’t know can further stress you out, making the process even harder. A lot of new students crave companionship during these times, and pets often provide just that. Most students don’t have the time or space to take care of bigger pets such as cats and dogs; however, there are still plenty of pets out there that can easily fit the hustle and bustle of college life. Here are five great pets for companionship, responsibility, and stress relief (just make sure your student housing or off-campus apartment allows pets before you break any rules!).
Frogs are amazing for individuals who don’t care about handling their pets much and don’t have a lot of time on their hands. If you’re one of these people, frogs are colorful, interesting, and oddly cute little blobs to stare at for hours. Because these little ones come in so many variations of sizes, colors, and species, it may seem hard to pick one to make your pet. However, you’ll find the right one with proper research. Here are the basics:
- Frogs range in cost from as little as $15 to as much as $80 depending on the species.
- You can usually fit a couple of frogs in a 15- to 30-gallon tank.
- Frogs eat insects such as crickets, earthworms, and flies, which are typically easy to come by and can be ordered online.
- Most frogs require specific temperature and humidity regulations to keep them healthy in their enclosure.
Here are some beginner-friendly frog species to consider:
- Chubby frog
- White's tree frog
- White-lipped tree frog
- Ornate horned frog
- Panama golden frog
When it comes to non-furry companions, one that remains popular is the gecko! There are a ton of different gecko species out there. These little guys come in an abundance of different colors and patterns and are easy to fall in love with. They’re also known to become quite affectionate with their owners despite their cold-bloodedness. Important things to know include:
- Geckos don’t require a lot outside of the basics of temperature regulation, food, hiding spots, and appropriate lighting and moisture levels.
- A 20-gallon tank will usually do for these little guys.
- They tend to eat easy-to-find insects, and you only need to feed them a handful of times per week.
- Their cages also only need cleaning once a year, making them incredibly easy to manage.
Some popular gecko species include:
- Leopard gecko
- Crested gecko
- Gargoyle gecko
- Tokay gecko
- Fat-tail gecko
3. Bearded Dragons
Another favorite reptile pet is the bearded dragon. These are often active during the day and have an inquisitive, gentle personality that most can’t help but fall in love with. If you want a social reptilian pet that’s easy to manage and loves a good cuddle while you study or relax, there’s no doubt a bearded dragon is the pet for you. But be aware—this lizard is no beginner pet. If you get one as a baby, they’re higher maintenance for the first couple of years. Here’s what else you should know:
- Bearded dragons are omnivores that’ll eat just about anything, from beetles and small rodents to flowers and veggies. They aren’t picky at all!
- Adult beardies will eat a mix of bugs and greens a few times a week, while babies will need to be fed a couple times throughout the day.
- They need a 20–50-gallon tank with branches and rocks to climb on and preferably some hideaway to sleep in.
- They also require specific temperature, lighting, and humidity requirements like most other reptiles, but you need to make sure this is okay with campus housing because the lights could potentially be considered a fire hazard.
- Once their enclosures are set, they’ll usually only need to be cleaned once a week, making them easy to maintain.
If you’re really thinking about getting a bearded dragon while in college, we recommend trying to adopt an older one, as the transition to giving it a content life will be easier.
Snakes are another great pet for busy college students because they’re absolutely fine on their own and don’t need to be handled every day—in fact, some species prefer not to be held at all. However, there are some sociable species out there, like the corn snake, that are relatively friendly and open to being held. Take a look at the top things to know about these pets:
- Snakes prefer to eat either insects or rodents depending on their species and size.
- They also don't have to be fed a lot, with smaller snakes needing to be fed twice a week and bigger snakes just once a week
- You should expect to get a 10-20-gallon tank for a small species, while bigger species require 30-55-gallon tanks.
- Some snakes have specific humidity and temperature requirements like other reptiles on this list, but the requirements are usually easy to maintain.
Popular beginner snake species include:
- Corn snake
- Ball python
- California king snake
- Garter snake
Turtles make for some truly interesting little critters to watch. Unlike most of the other pets on this list, turtles can live for 30+ years, which truly makes them lifelong companions. While most of them don’t care to be interacted with, there are some species, like the red-eared slider, that are relatively friendly and like being let out of their tanks. To prepare for a turtle, here’s what you should know:
- Turtles usually need a 30-gallon tank with at least half or all of it being water and the other half rocky spots for sunning.
- They do have temperature, humidity, and water requirements that must be met depending on the species.
- They usually eat turtle pellets and vegetation, with adult turtles eating every two to three days.
Popular turtle species include:
- Common musk turtle
- Mud turtle
- Red-eared slider
- Western painted turtle
The college transition can be stressful, but there are a bunch of pets out there that can provide comfort to students while being easy enough for the average young adult to handle. These pets don’t require constant attention to be happy, and most are content with staying in their cages. They don’t take up a lot of space and won’t make a whole lot of noise, making them perfect pets for dorm life. Having an animal companion around to provide you with comfort in college can mean all the difference when it comes to relieving stress.
If you’re really insistent on getting an animal companion in college, check out this list of Schools Allowing Pets on Campus!