Do Owls Make Good Pets?

Posted by Christy Caplan
Pet Owl

We hear owls all night long where we live and I'm glad I can hear them but I don't want to 'see' them. They hunt chickens and the last thing I need is an owl hunting my 20 hens at dusk or dawn. So I'm not interested in owning a pet owl but given my love of birds, I'm also not going to say I don't understand why someone may want to own one.

I was pretty stunned when I searched for #petowls on Instagram as a lot of people DO have pet owls. With that in mind, owls aren't great pets. Owls are carnivores like I mentioned above. They eat whole animals so a hamburger from a drive-through isn't going to cut it. They also eat violently.

Spruce Pets shares that owls are notoriously messy eaters.

"The eating process is to tear prey to shreds in order to eat small bites, and this mess must be cleaned up after each feeding. Owls hunt small rodents in the wild using their hearing and sight." 

So you'll need to catch rodents for your pet owl. Are the people on Instagram catching rodents at night? Perhaps.

An article on Reader's Digest shares that owls are mostly solitary. They roost alone at night and only in pairs during breeding season so they don't really enjoy the company of others.

Owls need a lot of space. Experts say they will need a substantial aviary.

Are pet owls even legal?

Nope.

"Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to keep an owl as a pet. Penalties include a fine of up to $15,000 and/or up-to six months in prison."

The only permits granted are for native owls, and for special purposes only, such as falconry, education, or rehabilitation. Those permits are for certain conditions-- generally only if the owl is injured and non-releasable to the wild.

How long do owls live?

Owls can live up to 35 years, which means a lifetime commitment of diligent daily care. You will need an owl sitter if you plan to go on vacation! 

What owls can you have as a pet?

There is one interesting thing to consider if you MUST live with a pet owl. What about a disabled Barn Owl?

The Barn Owl Trust organization confirms that if you are determined to keep a Barn Owl and are able to provide everything it needs for the best possible quality of life in captivity, then you will be wondering how to go about obtaining a bird.

"Theoretically, there is no need for anyone to pay for an adult captive-bred Barn Owl as there are so many excess birds which need a good home. Your local RSPCA, wildlife hospital or veterinary surgeon may be willing to put you in touch with local contacts if you are interested in providing accommodation for a disabled or unwanted captive-bred Barn Owl. If you decide to buy a captive-bred Barn Owl you must ensure that it comes with an Article 10 Certificate. "

The Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter books, and J.K. Rowling did make owning a pet owl very popular but Hedwig was a magical owl! These are raptors and wild animals that have very specific needs. The talons they use to catch prey can injure anyone that gets in the way which is not the definition of a good pet!

It's likely better to visit these wild birds at a bird sanctuary or large aviary where there are species of owls. Captive owls can be found at an owl sanctuary where they are cared for by aviary experts.

Are owls the bird for you? Please let us know if you share your home with one in the comments below!

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Do Owls Make Good Pets?