14 Best Office Pets for Happy Workplaces

Home » Resources » Office PetsUpdated: April 19, 2021

You found our list of friendly office pets! 🐾

Office pets are animals that live in or visit the workplace and spread cheer to employees. These furry friends typically belong to the company, but might also be the personal pet of the CEO or owner, office manager, or another employee.

Pets are a great work perk and are excellent for employee morale. Adopting office pets is also a great employee wellness idea.

This article includes:

  • low maintenance office pets
  • unusual office pets
  • desk pets
  • cubicle pets
  • exotic office pets

Let’s get to it!

List of the best office pets

From cats and dogs, to lizards, to hedgehogs, here is a list of the most awesome workplace pets.

1. Dogs

Black and white dog in dirt yard

No list of workplace pets would be complete without man’s best friend. People love dogs, and dogs love people. The fact that dogs are one of the most popular office pets is no surprise, considering that, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs are the most commonly owned pets in the US.

Dogs make excellent therapy animals, and can encourage feelings of inclusivity among socially awkward employees. Since dogs are social animals, they can accelerate workplace team bonding. Plus, canine companions tend to make their owners healthier, as dog owners get more exercise, on average, than other pet owners. Walking the office mutt is a great incentive for hardworking employees to take a break and get fresh air.

Some companies go as far as to host “puppy parties,” where employees can play with pups to relieve stress. Other organizations allow employees to bring dogs to the office, as long as the dog is well-behaved. This benefit is a major one for pooch parents who would rather not pay for pet sitting. Still more companies own office dogs that report to work every day to boost colleague’s spirits one tail wag, tummy rub, tug of war, head scratch, or nose boop at a time.

Learn how to properly care for dogs.

2. Cats

Gray and white cat inside a file cabinet drawer

Next to dogs, cats are the most popular pets in the US. Citizens of dozens of countries own house cats, and the Ancient Egyptians even worshipped felines! While some folks think cats are unfriendly, the animals can actually be very sweet and compassionate. According to the BBC, cat purrs have physical and psychological health benefits for humans, including decreased risk for cardiovascular disease or stroke. Petting or playing with cats is a great stress relief, not to mention a social stimulus.

Unlike dogs, cats do not require daily walks. Plus, cats take up less space than canines, and tend to be calmer and less intimidating. If you are lucky, then the office cat might even choose to curl up on your lap for a snooze while you ready reports or answer emails. Though fair warning, kitty is equally likely to perch on your keyboard.

Learn how to properly care for cats.

3. Fish

Striped tiger fish in an aquarium

Fish double as pets and decor. An aquarium can serve as an art piece in a waiting room, break room, or office, impressing colleagues, clients, and guests. Staring at swimming schools is a calming and meditative experience. Caring for fish is simple too. Fish tanks that have filters require cleaning only occasionally, and feeding the aquarium’s inhabitants is as easy as shaking a few flakes into the water. As long as no one breaks the tank, fish will not make a mess in the office, get lost, or make noise. Fish make great desk pets, Betta fish especially.

Best of all, fish require almost no attention. If a jam-packed schedule prevents you from playing with your office pet, then little Nemo is just as content to swim in circles all day and nibble algae. In fact, he probably prefers it that way!

Learn how to properly care for fish.

4. Rabbits

White and black spotted rabbit in grass

Timothee in Sales takes all his calls full-volume on speakerphone and Belinda in accounting cackles like a hyena; the office is noisy enough without adding another animal to the mix. Rabbits are silent, making them ideal office animals. Plus, these pets are nondisruptive, clean, and typically pleasant-smelling. Rabbits are easy to take care of and cheap to feed. Though bunnies need ample exercise and fresh air, letting them bounce around the office will count towards the daily hop count. Plus, come Spring, these pets make the perfect office Easter party mascots. Most importantly, bunnies are adorable, making them the instant bad day cure. We challenge you not to melt as they wrinkle their little noses or clean their floppy ears.

Learn how to properly care for rabbits.

5. Hamsters

Hamster in a cage in a blue ball

Hamsters make great cubicle pets. They are small enough to fit on desks or on top of cabinets, and travel well, meaning they move between workspaces without much fuss. If you are feeling ambitious, then you could even rig up a series of tubes between cubicles so the furry friends can visit coworkers at will. Since hamsters are small, they do not eat much, and thus are low-cost pets. Plus, hamsters are low maintenance and easy to care for, yet still cuddleable.

Not to mention, watching the office hamster run on a wheel might inspire colleagues to be more productive.

Learn how to properly care for hamsters.

6. Lizards

Lizard perched on man's hand

Some animal lovers prefer scale to fur. Lizards make neat pets, in part because they remind folks of dragons. Despite their prickly appearances, most lizards are quite gentle and calm. Reptiles like geckos, iguanas, chameleons, and bearded dragons are majestic, interesting creatures that look cool and have amazing superpowers. Care can be complex, but ownership is generally rewarding.

Lizards make great unusual office pets for out-of-the-ordinary offices, and are sure to spark conversations.

Learn how to properly care for lizards.

7. Birds

Birds are smart, social, and easy to train. Their feathers add a splash of color to the office, and their chirping sets a cheerful tone. Birds like parakeets and finches tend to thrive in small spaces, and it is quite easy to find space for a cage in a reception area, break room, or hallway.

Our feathered friends are very social with their own kind and humans, and their friendly nature might spur teammates to spend more time around colleagues, too. For extra fun, teach your bird tricks like ringing a bell, waving a wing, perching on a shoulder, or repeating a sound.

Birds add a touch of the tropics to the office. While your team might not be able to travel to a beach or rainforest for a break, when a mini-parrot is part of your crew, at least you can pretend.

Learn how to properly care for birds.

8. Hermit crabs

Hermit crab in a white shell

Hermit crabs make great desk pets. They are cheap, easy to care for, and nondisruptive. While some folks might argue that hermit crabs are not fun, watching them interact with their habitats is fascinating. Plus, decorating tanks provides an opportunity for coworkers to show off their personal style. Hermit crabs make especially great pets for art departments willing to customize shells with dazzling designs.

Bonus: Hermit crabs eventually outgrow their shells and trade their homes for new ones, which is a great metaphor for employee development and rising the ranks within the organization. Basically, hermit crabs are moving motivational posters.

Learn how to properly care for hermit crabs.

9. Sea monkeys

Next to pet rocks, sea monkeys are the most low maintenance office pets imaginable. Sea monkeys are actually a species of brine shrimp. They come in packets, and when you empty the powder into tanks and add water, the shrimp re-hydrate and re-animate. There is something enormous satisfying about the process of setting up a sea monkey tank, since bringing the monkeys “to life” has a very DIY feel.

Over the course of a few weeks, sea monkeys grow into adulthood. The tiny shrimp are see-through and have an alien appearance.

There is no need to clean the tank, nor fancy lights or filters. The critters only need food once every seven to ten days, and the only other care instruction is to keep the water in the aquarium at the same level. If cared for properly, these aquatic creatures can live for up to two years.

Learn how to properly care for sea monkeys.

10. Hedgehogs

Hedgehog on the forest floor

Equal parts unique and adorable, hedgehogs are unusual office pets. Since they are nocturnal animals, they are much more likely to be active at night, which is great news for night shift workers who crave creature companionship.

Hedgehogs live in tanks or pens, but do not mind being held, and might even crawl across your shoulder or curl up in a blanket on your lap. Despite their prickly appearance, hedgehogs’ bellies are soft, and their quills are stiff, but only really sharp when they feel threatened.

Chances are, very few of your employees have been hedgehog owners in the past, so adopting one as an office pet will be quite a novel. Not to mention, your new team mascot is sure to gain the company some major social media attention.

Learn how to properly care for hedgehogs.

11. Fennec foxes

Fennec fox sitting like a person

If exotic office pets are more your style, then fennec foxes are a great choice. Though these bundles of fur have a heftier price tag than most other critters on this list, they are much less expensive than other exotic pets.

Fennec foxes have big eyes and big ears, which makes them very cute. Be aware, however, that while you might want nothing more than to snuggle the creatures, the foxes’ energetic yet skittish natures mean they are not very likely cuddle buddies.

Still, if you aim to impress, then this Saharan species will do the trick!

Learn how to properly care for fennec foxes.

12. Robots

Small humanoid robots kicking a soccer ball

Robots are hypoallergenic and require no housebreaking. Since robots are programmable, no behavior training is necessary. These mechanical wonders are ideal tech industry office pets, since mechanical animals may amaze and entertain gadget-heads more than a puppy or kitten ever could. Plus, one day you could build or buy a robot that mimics any animal.

Of course robots are not as cuddly as furry friends, and they are much more expensive. Still, if looking for an office pet with a wow factor, machines might be man’s new best friend.

13. Zoo or shelter animals

Giraffe sticking neck into frame

If your crew decides they prefer a really exotic animal, then adopting a zoo or shelter animal might be the next best option.

Picking out an animal to sponsor can turn into a fun team building activity. Team members pool together money, then send the donation to the zoo or humane society. The animal organization often sends pictures and updates on the animal, and might even send fun gifts like stuffed animals or paintings done by the critter in question. Employees might even be able to visit the “adopted” animal.

To adopt an animal, reach out to your local shelter or zoo, or check out your favorite animal park or charity’s website.

14. Personal pets

Gray and white cat sitting on bed

The downside of working from home is that a shared office pet is not a possibility. The upside is that your personal pet becomes your office pet. Telecommuters have full reign over choosing animal companions, meaning no barking at an overactive team Labrador to “SIT!” and no staring nervously at your deskmate’s king snake. You can hang out with your own beloved pet all day, and can skip worrying about whether your Tabby is bored or anxious without you. Home office bets are tops because there is no need to say goodbye once you finish working for the day. Plus, during Zoom meetings, you get a glimpse at all your coworkers’ pets too!

Conclusion

Animals inspire strong connections and feelings of attachment. Introducing a pet into the office can boost job satisfaction, reduce stress, increase engagements and employee interactions, and make the workplace a much more pleasant place. Also creating a pet-friendly workplace can give you a major edge over your competitors. When given the opportunity to work at a company with puppies and kittens or no puppies and kittens, the answer is obvious.

For more animal fun, check out our list of virtual zoo tours.

FAQ: Office pets

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about office pets.

What are good office pets?

Good office pets are fun to play with and spend time with but easy to care for. The best office pets include cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, and lizards.

Which office pets should you avoid?

While the perfect work pet depends on a team’s taste, there are certain animals you would do best to avoid inviting into the office.

Office pets to avoid include:

  1. Guinea pigs- Despite many claims that guinea pigs are low maintenance animals, they do not necessarily make the best office pets. While guinea pigs can live alone, they tend to behave abnormally if not in pairs. Also, guinea pigs tend to let out high-pitched squeals that can be quite loud.
  2. Tarantulas- Another baffling choice that appears on many office pet lists. While some people prefer exotic and edgy pets like tarantulas, given the prevalence of arachnophobia amongst the general population, at least one of your coworkers is likely afraid of spiders.
  3. Snakes- Like spiders, many people are afraid of snakes. Plus, snakes eat live insects or rodents, creatures you do not want hanging around in your office.
  4. Horses- Horses are expensive not only to buy, but also to board and care for. Even if you can justify the cost of purchase, chances are executives will not approve of the expense. Unless you work on a farm, a horse will not make a good work pet.
  5. Unicorns- Do not exist. Sorry to break your heart. 🦄

In general, it is a wise idea to avoid any aggressive, messy, or high-maintenance animals, as drawbacks might outnumber benefits.

Why should you get an office pet?

Office pets are great for increasing employee morale and engagement, plus animals relieve stress. Caring for a pet increases empathy, responsibility, and sociability, all of which are admirable qualities in employees. Not to mention, animals can bring about health benefits like regular exercise, improved mental health, and even lower chance of heart disease and stroke. Plus, getting an office pet will win the company bonus points with employees, clients, and fans of the brand.

How can you convince the company to get an office pet?

Bosses might be hesitant to get a pet, as caring for a pet requires ongoing commitment, both physical and financial. Managers might also be afraid that animals will distract workers. To convince leadership to get on board, list the benefits of workplace pets, such as increased morale and employee wellness. Office pets might even serve as an employee retention strategy.

Convincing a skeptical office manager might be a tough sell, but if you draw up plans for the pet, such as where the animal will live and who will be responsible for care, you are much likely to get approval.

What should you consider before getting an office pet?

There are certain factors you should weigh before deciding to get an office pet. Considerations include:

  1. Allergies– Coworkers who are allergic to cats or dogs or other critters will not reap the full benefits of an office pet. Ask whether coworkers have allergies, and if possible, place the pet in a separate area.
  2. Fears– Some teammates might be afraid of certain animals, and may not be ready to conquer the fear. The workplace should be a safe space for everyone, so do not force the issue.
  3. Clientele– If customers or vendors enter your workplace frequently, then visitors might agitate your pet, or the pet may upset guests.
  4. Environment– The office space might not be the ideal environment for certain animals, or for any animals.
  5. Professionalism– Depending on the industry, having an animal hanging around might be a liability, or may appear unprofessional. Use good judgement, and when in doubt, consult industry peers or management.

Getting a workplace pet should not be a spontaneous decision, but rather a carefully-weighed choice that examines many important factors. However, if you make the proper preparations, then your new pet and the team will be happier, healthier, and friendlier!

What are fun office pet ideas?

Having a pet in the workplace is fun, but you can up engagement even further with a little creativity.

Fun office pet ideas include:

  1. Ongoing pet posts on social media channels
  2. Animal employee of the month
  3. Written content by the pet on the blog, emails, or newsletter
  4. Office pet naming competition
  5. Bring your pet to work day
  6. Zoom pet show-and-tell

Feel free to brainstorm even more ways to have fun with animals at work!

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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