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Considering having a pet in your dorm room?  Well, luckily for you, some colleges are okay with animal friends!  A few examples of colleges that have this policy include University of Illinois, Clemson University, and Columbia University and of course there are other universities.  Most of the time, however, they have to be of the aquatic or reptilian type.  This can include: fish, small lizards, frogs, snails, small snakes, and other small creatures.  Exactly which pets are allowed depends on each college's handbook and guidelines, but here are some pros and cons to having a little friend while staying in a dorm.


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Pro: Bringing a new life into the room can be exciting, and a great way to bond with your roommates, if you have them!  Making it a group effort to support your new animal friend is a way to get closer to one another.

Pro: Some animal friends can be very colorful which can be visually appealing in a dorm room.  Which can draw neighbors in to strike up a conversation about your friend.  Leading to possible new friendships and connections with your floor community.

Pro: You could inspire other dorm neighbors to get animal friends, thereby building a community of different animals to enjoy together!

Pro: An animal friend could be a de-stressor in its own way.  To have to care for and look after an animal can help you focus on small tasks, which would, in turn, get your mind off of the stress of college, even if only for a few moments.

Pro: By bringing an animal into your dorm room, you're bringing them into a new and exciting life.  These animals need  someone caring, responsible, and educated on their needs to look after them, which is an excellent opportunity for you to utilize and develop these traits.

I know from experience that all of these pros are a possibility because during my time as an undergrad, I had fish for three years.  I had the joy of living on a floor my freshman year were about eight of us girls got various types of fish and helped each other as a community.  We all compared ways to take care of our fish.  In fact, I got to 'babysit' one of my friend’s fish while she was going through a rough time, which was a great responsibility watching over someone else’s pet.  However, there are potential cons of having a pet during college that I'll go over next.

Con: The living environment the animal may be in could be a bit noisy with lamps, heaters, filters, or other items.  This could be bothersome for roommates who prefer quiet.  

Con: Someone may be allergic to the animal that you have brought in the dorm.  Surprisingly, with aquatic and reptilian animals, scales and the skin texture can cause people to sneeze and have other allergic reactions sometimes.  Which if that is the case, then maybe a dorm pet should be considered at another time to help keep everyone healthy.

Con: Certain types of animals can require veterinarian visits which can be costly for a college student.  Or if the pet ever gets sick, it may need a medication that is another expense to take into consideration.

Con: Some species of animals do not get along with one another.  Be sure to read what fish coexist with each other, if lizards can have roommates in their cages, etc.  There are many types of animals that best live alone, so be sure to check this out before an accident occurs. 


Caring for an animal can help you focus on small tasks and take your mind off of the stress of college, even if only for a few moments.


Con: The biggest con would be the cost of the animal’s living environment, food etc.  It's quite a financial responsibility to take on with this new little friend.  Be sure to budget out what you can and cannot afford before bringing the new friend into your life.

All in all, it's up to you if you're ready for the responsibility of taking care of your animal buddy.  They can bring a lot of joy and fun to the living space.  Be sure you're ready and financially prepared for pet expenses.  Also if you can, adopt your new buddy from a rescue group or shop locally for animals like fish or snails. 


Jamie Miller is a 23 year old social work graduate student at the University of Illinois. She hopes to work as a case manager or college instructor post-graduation. Her writing passion includes beauty, relationships, and lifestyle tips. She is excited to share her thoughts and discoveries with everyone!


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