Absolutely, Owls are undeniably fascinating creatures with piercing eyes and silent flight. Their majestic allure often makes people wonder if they can keep these birds as pets. Well, here’s the deal: Owls aren’t your ordinary pet choices like a cat or a dog, and in many regions, it’s not legal to have one.
The legalities around keeping owls as pets differ greatly depending on where you live. For instance, it’s a no-go in the United States. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits the possession of any owl without specific federal permits.
Similar laws apply in many other countries as well. Besides legality, owls require a lot of special care. And they’re nocturnal – ready to play when you’re ready for bed.
Which Owl Species Are Kept As Pets?
1. Barn Owls
These are quite popular and recognized for their distinctive heart-shaped faces. Barn Owls have a mysterious beauty that attracts owl lovers. But remember, they require a ton of space to fly around and exercise their wings. So, if you’re considering adopting one, be sure you can accommodate their needs!
2. Eurasian Eagle-Owls
This species is among the largest and most impressive owls, famous for their bright orange eyes. While keeping Eurasian Eagle-Owls as pets in some places is legal, they require lots of room and a dedicated owner who understands their unique requirements. These owls aren’t just big but also personality!
3. Great Horned Owls
These magnificent creatures are known for their distinctive feather tufts or ‘horns.’ They’re highly adaptable, living in various habitats across America. However, they’re not the easiest pets. Great Horned Owls are powerful and aggressive predators that need an experienced handler.
4. Spectacled Owls
Named for their unique ‘spectacles’ – white feathers around their eyes – Spectacled Owls are native to Central and South America. They’re smaller than some other species, but they still need to find a way to make them easy pets. They still require lots of care, a specific diet, and a lot of space to fly.
5. Screech Owls
Don’t let their name fool you; Screech Owls are quiet. They’re small, making them one of the more ‘manageable’ pet owls, but they still have specific care needs. With their round heads and piercing eyes, these tiny owls can live a long life if well-taken care of.
6. Snowy Owls
Instantly recognizable for their striking white plumage, Snowy Owls are famous for their role in the Harry Potter series. But don’t be deceived by their Hollywood fame – these birds require excellent care. They need a cool environment and a diet of whole animals, typically rodents, making them quite challenging to keep.
7. Northern Saw-Whet Owls
These little guys are one of the smallest owl species, making them seem tempting for a pet. Despite their small size, Saw-Whet Owls are quite hardy and have a huge appetite for their size. Remember, small doesn’t mean low maintenance. These owls still require lots of time, effort, and resources.
8. Tawny Owls
Native to Europe and Asia, Tawny Owls are another species sometimes kept as pets. They’re mid-sized owls known for their classic ‘twit-twoo’ call. If you’re considering a Tawny Owl as a pet, you’ll need to ensure you can meet its dietary needs and provide adequate space.
Which Countries Permit Owning Owls As Pets?
In the UK, keeping owls as pets is legal. However, it’s a hefty responsibility that requires plenty of expertise. Owls are covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which prohibits the release of captive-bred owls into the wild. If you’re in the UK and fancy getting a pet owl, remember it’s a commitment for the owl’s lifetime, which can be up to 20 years!
Japan has an owl cafe trend where people can get up close with these fascinating birds. Legally, you can keep an owl as a pet in Japan, but the process is complex. Plenty of rules and regulations are in place to protect these birds’ welfare, ensuring they are treated humanely and responsibly.
Owls can be kept as pets in South Africa, but it’s not an impulse decision. You need to apply for a permit from the provincial nature conservation department, and they’ll want to know that you’ve got the knowledge and facilities to take care of the owl properly. Remember, owls aren’t like other pets. They demand a lot of time and care.
In Belgium, owning an owl is legal, but not all owl species are permitted. The government has regulated bird ownership to ensure the welfare of these creatures. Before you bring an owl home, you must prove you have adequate space, knowledge, and resources to care for such an extraordinary pet.
Russia allows individuals to keep owls as pets, but it’s a highly regulated process. To become an owl owner, you must be prepared to meet rigorous animal welfare standards and provide for the owl’s unique dietary, behavioral, and environmental needs. Like any other pet, keeping an owl in Russia is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly.
In India, owning an owl is legally possible, but only under specific circumstances. It’s heavily regulated due to conservation concerns, as several owl species in India are endangered. It requires a lot of paperwork and a clear understanding of the owl’s behavior, dietary needs, and habitat requirements.
Which Countries Not Permit Owning owls as Pets?
In the United States, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This is because owls are considered to be migratory birds and are protected by law. The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to $15,000 or up to six months in jail.
In Australia, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the Wildlife Protection Act 1975. This is because owls are considered to be native wildlife and are protected by law. The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to $11,000 or up to 12 months in jail.
In Canada, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1918. This is because owls are considered to be migratory birds and are protected by law. The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to $25,000 or up to six months in jail.
In New Zealand, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the Wildlife Act 1953. This is because owls are considered to be native wildlife and are protected by law. The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 or up to six months in jail.
In Brazil, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the Wildlife Protection Act (Law No. 5.197/67). This is because owls are considered to be wild animals and are protected by law. The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to R$5,000 (about $1,000 USD) or up to one year in jail.
In China, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the Wildlife Protection Law (2016). This is because owls are considered to be wild animals and are protected by law. The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to ¥50,000 (about $7,000 USD) or up to three years in jail.
In Mexico, it is illegal to keep owls as pets under the General Law of Wildlife Protection (Ley General de Vida Silvestre). The law also prohibits the trade of owls, including selling, buying, or giving them away. If you are caught keeping an owl as a pet, you could face a fine of up to $100,000 pesos (about $5,000 USD) or up to three years in jail.
Challenges You’ll Face as an Owl Parent
1. Meeting Dietary Needs
Feeding an owl is not a walk in the park. Owls require a specific diet of whole prey animals, like mice, rats, or small rabbits, often needing them to be fresh. This means you might be handling and storing small dead animals, and your refrigerator could start looking like a mini zoo. Your owl can suffer from malnutrition and serious health issues if you don’t provide a proper diet.
2. Providing Enough Space
Unlike small birds, owls need significant space to stretch their wings and fly around. More than small cages or enclosures are needed for these majestic creatures. Ideally, they require an aviary, a room, or even a secure and safe outdoor space. Also, it’s crucial to consider domestic life can be stressful for owls, which are naturally wide-ranging, territorial animals.
3. Noise and Nocturnal Nature
Being nocturnal, owls are most active during the night. Their hooting can be a lovely sound, but not when it disrupts your sleep or bothers your neighbors at 2 a.m. Owls can also make various other noises, which can be surprisingly loud. Additionally, their activity schedule might need to align with yours, causing potential inconveniences.
4. Healthcare Requirements
Like any pet, owls can get sick and require veterinary attention. However, not all vets are trained or experienced in caring for owls. Finding a suitable avian vet who can handle owls and their unique health problems can be challenging. Regular check-ups and medical treatments for exotic pets can also be significantly more expensive than for common pets.
5. Long-term Commitment
If you decide to adopt an owl, be prepared for a long journey together. Some owl species can live for several decades and cannot be released into the wild once they have been kept as pets. Consider the long-term implications. Are you ready to commit to taking care of a demanding pet for that long?
6. Legal Restrictions
You may face legal challenges when adopting an owl. Many countries have strict laws regarding keeping owls as pets, requiring numerous permits and inspections. You’ll need to prove that you can provide a suitable environment for the owl and understand the responsibilities involved. Navigating these regulations can be time-consuming and daunting.
Owl’s Behavior and Well-being in Captivity
In the wild, they’re fiercely independent and territorial. They fly long distances, hunt, and interact with their environment in specific ways. When in captivity, however, their natural behaviors can be limited, affecting their well-being.
One significant change for a captive owl is the lack of hunting. In the wild, owls are skilled predators. Hunting isn’t just about getting dinner—it’s a crucial part of their natural behavior. When we replace this with a bowl of ready-to-eat food, we deny them an important part of their identity.
This can lead to stress and behavioral issues like pacing, feather plucking, or aggression. Owls are used to wide, open spaces—the sky’s the limit, literally! A confined space can limit their movement and may lead to physical and mental health issues.
Owls are not naturally friendly creatures with humans or other owls; forced interactions can stress them out. Remember, in the wild, they’re mostly solitary or live with a mate only. In captivity, excessive or unwanted social interaction can cause anxiety.
What Do Pet Owls Eat?
Owls aren’t picky eaters, but they do have specific dietary needs. In the wild, they’re skilled predators, hunting various critters. Their diet typically includes small mammals like mice, rats, and sometimes rabbits.
Some larger owl species might even go after bigger game, like hares or small deer! Smaller owl species might stick to insects, spiders, or even small birds. In captivity, it’s crucial to replicate this diet as closely as possible for your owl’s health and well-being.
You might find yourself shopping for mice or rat pups at your local pet store or breeding them yourself. Some owners opt to feed their pet owls day-old chicks as well. It’s not for the faint-hearted but part of being a responsible owl caretaker.
Common Health Issues of Pet Owls
This usually results from an improper diet. Owls require a specific diet of whole prey. If they don’t get this, they can become malnourished, leading to a weakened immune system, bone deformities, and other health problems. A healthy owl diet should mimic what they’d eat in the wild as closely as possible.
2. Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
This can occur when an owl doesn’t get enough calcium, usually due to an improper diet. Symptoms might include weak beaks and claws, problems with flight, and in severe cases, fractures. Regular vet checks can help spot and treat MBD early.
3. Parasitic Infections
Like any pet, owls can get parasites like mites, worms, or lice. This can lead to various health problems, including skin irritation, weight loss, etc. Maintaining a clean living environment and regular veterinary care can help prevent these issues.
4. Stress-related Behavior
Owls can become stressed in captivity, leading to behaviors like feather plucking, aggression, or pacing. Factors causing stress can include small living spaces, improper diet, and too much human interaction. Monitoring your owl’s behavior can help you catch signs of stress early.
Owls can injure themselves by flying into walls or objects within their enclosures. These injuries can range from minor bumps to severe trauma like broken wings. Ensuring that the owl has a safe, spacious living environment can help prevent these incidents.
In captivity, owls might not get as much exercise as they would in the wild. Combined with overfeeding, this can lead to obesity, which can cause numerous health issues, from joint problems to heart disease. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help keep your owl in shape.
7. Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) Infection
AGY is a yeast infection that can affect owls, especially those in captivity. Symptoms might include loss of appetite, lethargy, and changes in droppings. If you suspect your owl has AGY, getting them to a vet is crucial as soon as possible.
Care And Attention Owls Require
Owls require plenty of space. These birds are not meant to be cooped up. They need room to spread their wings, quite literally. Ideally, they should have a large, secure aviary where they can fly and move about freely. Keeping an owl in a small cage is a no-go.
It’s not good for their physical or mental health. Just like you and me, owls need regular health check-ups. Only some vets are experienced with owls, so you might need to seek a specialist. These avian vets can help catch and treat potential health issues before they become serious problems.
Owls are also very sensitive to their environment. They’re nocturnal, meaning they’re most active at night. A noisy, bustling household during the day could disrupt their sleep and cause stress. Owls aren’t like dogs – they’re not naturally sociable creatures.
Space And Environment Needs
Owls need space – and lots of it! A tiny cage isn’t going to cut it. An owl needs room to stretch its wings, hop, and fly. This is crucial for their physical health and well-being. Ideally, an owl should have a large aviary, either inside or outside, that mimics its natural habitat.
The aviary should be secure, safe from predators, and weather-proof, with plenty of perches at different heights. The environment inside the aviary should also be considered. Things like temperature, humidity, and lighting all greatly affect an owl’s health and happiness.
Owls are nocturnal, so they need a quiet, dim environment during the day to sleep. While owls can tolerate various temperatures, sudden changes can be stressful. A stable, moderate temperature is best. Similarly, too much humidity can cause health problems, so the aviary should be well-ventilated and dry.
Finally, cleanliness is super important. An aviary should be cleaned regularly to prevent waste build-up and to ward off potential parasites. Creating the right space and environment for an owl requires thought, time, and commitment.
how long do owls live?
In the wild, owls face many challenges, from finding food to avoiding predators. In captivity, though, their lifespan can be much longer, ranging from about ten years for smaller species up to 20 years or more for larger ones. Some larger owl species, like the Eurasian Eagle Owl, can live up to 60 years in captivity! That’s quite a commitment.
Are owls smart pets?
Absolutely! Owls are highly intelligent creatures. They have excellent problem-solving skills and can learn and adapt quickly to new situations. That being said, their intelligence differs from that of dogs or cats. Owls are more like wild animals than traditional pets.
Is the owl loyal?
Loyalty, These majestic birds are more solitary by nature. They can form bonds with their caretakers, but it’s important to remember they remain instinct-driven and maintain their wild instincts.
Is it easy to tame an owl?
Taming an owl can be challenging. They’re not naturally inclined to human interaction like some pets. Training an owl requires patience, understanding, and deep respect for the bird’s wild nature. Remember, a tamed owl isn’t a domesticated pet. It’s a wild animal that’s adapted to living in captivity.
What is the cutest owl?
Well, cuteness is subjective. But many people swoon over the Northern Saw-whet Owl. It’s small, has large round eyes, and an adorable face that could melt anyone’s heart. Still, remember, even the cutest owl is a wild creature with specific care needs!