Can Owls Be Pets?– Birdkeeping Guide
The idea of owning exotic birds is not new, but the desire to have an owl has increased, mostly thanks to a certain series about a boy wizard and his own pet owl. However, in the real world, can owls be pets? If you think it would be impressive to have an owl or even realistic to care for one, you might want to reconsider. Continue reading this article to understand how owls live, what they need, their attitudes, and how those factors impact their potential as a pet.
Is Having a Pet Owl Legal?
Can owls be pets depends on where you live. In some states in the United States, non-native raptors are legal to own. The most commonly available owl that does not require a permit is the Eurasian eagle owl. This is one of the owls you can have as pets, but note that it is one of the largest in the world. Permits for owls you can have as pets are given for certain conditions. For example, if an owl is injured or cannot be released back into the wild.
Generally, however, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to keep an owl as a pet. You can be fined up to $15,000 and/or up-to six months in prison. So, before you try to take in an owl for a pet, determine its breed and look up the laws in your area. If it is a non-native owl, there is a chance you could keep it, but you will need to meet certain requirements.
What are an Owl’s Needs?
Some birds can be kept in cages, but caging an owl is a bad idea. They have massive wingspans. Even the Great Horned Owl, which only weighs three pounds, has a wingspan of over four feet. If you think can owls be pets, then you will need to provide them with the proper housing. In the United States, housing is strictly regulated and must meet federal guidelines regarding size, location, and structure. Owls are kept in what is called a “mew,” which is a large, wooden enclosure. You definitely cannot pick up a mew at your local pet shop.
Since owls are natural predators, they hunt for feed. You cannot exactly set your owl free for a couple of hours to go hunting and expect them to come back. This means you will need to do the hunting. There is really no such thing as owl pet food. You will need to feed an owl three to four mice a day. You cannot substitute with chicken or steak either, because they lack the nutrition owls need. However, you can get frozen rodents from stores and sellers who specialize in reptile food.
Health and Safety
Like all other animals, owls can get sick, too, usually, from lack of nutrition and infection. You will need to ensure you are providing a clean, comfortable, and robust environment for your owl to ensure they live long and well. In fact, owls have a lengthy lifespan. Most species can live up to 35 years!
An owl's home will need constant cleaning because they are sloppy eaters. They actually do not fully digest their food. They regurgitate large pellets covered in mucus that contain fur and bones. You will have to make sure these pellets and other food remnants get cleaned up, or they will rot and attract pests and parasites that could harm an owl.
What is an Owl’s Attitude?
Unlike certain birds, owls have not been widely domesticated or trained by humans over a long period of time. So, maybe, the idea can you keep an owl as a pet is better left off in fantasy children’s books. Owls are natural predators, which means they are physically and mentally constantly on the hunt or on the defense. They are equipped with sharp breaks and talons to kill and capture prey, as well as fend off any enemies.
Owls are certainly stunning creatures, and their beautiful features are probably one reason why you thought can owls be pets. However, you are better off admiring their beauty from a distance because owls are not exactly made for cuddling. Aside from being dangerous predators, owls are naturally solitary, so they do not seek the company of others, including humans, no matter how many mouse carcasses you feed them.
Owls are nocturnal creatures. This means they are most active at night. This is the time of the day when they go exploring and hunting. During the day, they can be found nesting, sleeping, or simply keeping still. Be prepared for your schedule to adjust to your owl’s. You will have to put up with nightly hooting and a pet that largely ignores you during the day.
So, can owls be pets? The short answer is yes. But, it depends on the species of owl and your area's laws. It also depends on your own attitude and preparedness. Owls are high-maintenance pets, so you must be committed to caring for your scary but beautiful friend. Experience with handling birds of prey is a good idea before keeping an owl. You can train to be a falconer, so you know how to not to cause harm to yourself and your owl.
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