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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Are you thinking about getting a pet but have restrictions because you’re a college student? Are you worried about the amount of time you can dedicate to taking care of your pet?

Do you want a caged animal or something smaller than a cat or dog to keep you company? Do you want something low maintenance but also entertaining and fun?

Well, here it is: a list of underrated pets for college students that you may have never considered!


Domesticated pet rats are different from the rats you’ll see running around Monroe Park. Rats have a bad reputation from shows and movies but I can say — as someone who owns three of these cuddly creatures myself — they are by far the most underrated pet for a college student and in general.

Not only are they relatively easy to take care of but they will shower you with lots of affection and become an endless source of entertainment. They have many unique quirks that make them the perfect pocket dogs. They don’t require much besides the basic necessities such as a sturdy cage, food (pellet food and vegetables every other day) and water. You can even train them to do tricks! 

Each rat is unique and has a distinct personality that you’ll learn to love. Rats are social animals, so they must be kept in pairs of two or more. 

Hermit crabs

When I was younger, I had a few hermit crabs. They’re strangely entertaining and have fascinating behaviors. Although their tanks do require a decent amount of set up such substrate deep enough to burrow, they only need to be cleaned once a week. This is perfect for the average student who won’t have time to look over animals on an everyday basis. 

These animals are content with low interaction and most foods, making them easier to take care of than a cat or dog that requires attention every day. 


If you’re looking for another low-maintenance animal, look no further. Lizards make great pets for college students who don’t have a lot of space or time to look after their pets. Most lizards are low maintenance and eat infrequently without any special diet besides leafy greens and frozen bugs. 

I’d recommend leopard geckos or crested geckos as some of the more common pets. They also tend to be on the smaller side compared to a bearded dragon, although all make great pets.


Although I’ve never personally owned a bird, I know that they’re particularly intelligent, almost on par with human intelligence. This means they can be trained in the same way rats can. They’re wonderful for people who want an interactive, social pet who wants to be around you. They have big personalities that you can learn as you interact with them.

The most common pet birds are canaries, parakeets and cockatiels. They aren’t too difficult to take care of and tend to warm up nicely to their new owners. If you’re worried about noise, canaries and finches might be a better choice than a cockatiel. 

Courtney Te is a Graphic Design major and a Psychology minor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is passionate about animals, writing and graphic design.