Just a bit of info on some "Fur-esidents" I bet you didn't know you had

"Cats and Dogs Welcome!  2 pets per apartment home.  No dogs over 40pounds, restrictions on aggressive breeds, and a pet interview may be required."

I took this line from an apartment listing website.  I think it's a great example of your general pet policy for most communities that are "Pet Friendly."  It's pretty black and white, not a lot of zaz, but it gets the job done.

So what about those people who have non traditional pets?  Many communities don't charge a pet deposit for anything that lives in a cage or that isn't a dog or cat.  Lots of leasing consultants don't even ask about animals of a smaller nature, because frankly, it's one of the last things that we would think about.  Small animals in apartments are becoming more and more popular in the last 10 years because it's a way to give your kids a pet, or have a pet yourself, without worrying about it having enough room to run around and play, like you would with a dog. 

When I was in college, one of the programs that I put together for my dorm was a partnership with a local pet shop called Scaly Dave's where they came in and did a presentation on pets for college students.  Not only was it a rousing success with the students in my dorm, but it gave people a chance to really think over the life they could give to that pet and what it's real needs were before impulse buying that adorable chinchilla, who happens to have a life span of up to 20 YEARS and shoots pee as a defense mechanism.  It was a great presentation and you could easily replicate it to be an event on your property during April, which is national Animal Cruelty Awareness Month.

Here's a list of some of the "Fur-residents" I bet you have somewhere on your property:

Rabbits -
Hoppy, floppy-eared and cute as can be, but they chew on stuff and pee, pee, pee!  If you think cat urine is a carpet ruiner, you haven't seen anything until you've seen the damage a rabbit can do.  A popular trend with rabbits is to let them roam free in the house, much the same way you would with a cat.  Rabbits as pets can live up to 12 years so people get pretty attached to them.  They also have huge claws and are not known for being the best tempered animal on the planet.

  Chinchillas -
a 20 year lifespan and, as stated earlier, they do shoot pee as a defense mechanism.  They also bathe in dust (which is pretty cool to watch, actually) and are avid chewers.  They are also spastic and highly adorable almost like a bunny squirrel hybrid.  They're extremely smart, and though they do not have a foul odor, a cage that is not cleaned every two to three days certainly will have one.  They're very fast and can jump super distances, and will run if startled.  They also have a loud "bark" that they use at night from time to time.

Ferrets -
They are known to smell REALLY bad.  They're very smart, so once they escape from their cage, if they're not trained/well domesticated, they're going to be pretty darned hard to catch.  They have been known to chew on electrical wiring after getting in to drywall in people's houses, so the same risk would apply to apartments.
  Sugar Gliders-
The latest bad boy in the exotic pets craze, these little guys are a nocturnal animal that pretty much dies if you look at it cross eyed.  Despite the high mortality rate, they are still becoming a very popular pet among college students for their "coolness factor."  Like other exotic rodent type pets, smell can be a huge issue with these little guys.
Hamsters/Gerbils/Rats -
My mother only allowed me to have a hamster as a child because they didn't have "creepy tails" like other rodents.  I think that all parents should get their kids a rodent as a pet, mostly because it's a cheap and effective way to teach your child about death.  Rodents in apartments are an overlooked pet often, until they escape and go through the little nooks and crannies in to the neighboring apartment and freak out the people next door.  Smell again is an issue, but as with any pet, it can easily be overcome by taking good care of the pet and it's environment.  Some hamsters, like the Roborowski variety from Mongolia, are carnivorous, so your resident is bringing home bugs for those little guys to munch on.
  Guinea Pigs-
These guys are not on my list of favorite animals, mostly because they pee all over everything.  They're originally a water based animal from Peru that we have domesticated in America as a pet. They were water based for a reason!  They also make constant little grunting oinky noises.  Smell is more of a factor with these guys because of how often they discharge bodily waste.
Another favorite of college students, hedgehogs have gained in popularity over the last 10 years.  They are carnivorous, which means that your resident will either bring home crickets for the thing to eat or keeps a container of potato bugs in the fridge.
  Snakes and Lizards-
Snakes and Lizards get a bad rap because they're inherently "creepy" but overall they can be good pets.  They have an odor to them, but not as prominent as that of a rodent.  They have really long life spans, sometimes up to 30 years or more, and of course, they are an animal that you've got to bring live food home to.  If they escape in to a home, snakes can actually do more damage than a lizard, because they are able to wind themselves in to the backs of fridges, bottoms of couch hydabeds, and other places where it can be incredibly difficult to remove them from, not to mention the obvious escape route of the average toilet.
Frogs (Poison Dart) -
Once again, these are super popular with the college aged resident set.  They're beautiful animals with a fascinating biochemistry, so it makes sense that people would try to domesticate them over time.  The downside to having frogs is that they require a super humid environment to thrive, and that can lead to mold growth in any home that has one as a pet.
  Fish -
Fish aren't usually a huge problem until the aquarium starts leaking.  Then it's hello to water damage.  Despite that, they're by far the easiest animal to deal with in an apartment setting.
VERY NOISY as a general rule.  Also, most birdcages are insufficient to catch all the droppings that birds produce, so the carpeting/flooring around that area is destined for replacement at some point.  According to an associate at my local PetSmart, people have also, in the last 5 years or so, taken to just leaving birds to fly about the house, citing that it's more "humane" for the animal.  She says this is nonsense and definitely not hygienic.

With the popular emergence of so many non traditional pets in the market place, is there something that we need to do to adapt our apartment pet policies and take these little guys in to notice?  I think that it's a good idea to at least acknowledge that these pets can potentially do as much damage as a dog or cat to a unit, even if we aren't charging a deposit for them.  What are some of the things you have done at your communities to deal with non traditional pets?  Do you encourage them in lieu of traditional dogs or cats?  Do you have a non traditional office pet?  Tell me about it.

"Follow Your Nose"

Is Your Company/Community a Poaching Ground?