In many films, books, and TV shows, the owl as a pet is shown to be incredibly friendly, intelligent, and loving. Pretty much everyone knows Harry Potter and his loyal snowy owl Hedwig, who sacrifices herself for him.
So are owls good pets as they appear to be in the movies? And if so, what does it take to properly care for a pet owl? Can an owl be cared for in a normal parrot cage? Can you keep an owl as a pet and feed it with grains and other types of commercial birdseed?
In this post, we provide answers to these questions about the owl – an extraordinary pet.
Keeping an Owl Makes Demands on the Place
While it is true that owls have become popular as pets in books and films (like the “Harry Potter” series), the sad truth for owl lovers is that an owl is not a good choice for most people as a pet.
The difficulties that will arise from properly caring for an owl is a big reason why it is best to leave it in the wild. As beautiful and captivating as these creatures may be.
For one thing, owls cannot be kept indoors in a normal parrot cage. They must be cared for in a large aviary with indoor and outdoor access as well as access to a water basin, which must always be perfectly clean.
They bathe regularly to meticulously clean their feathers. Owls fly very quietly. However, their feathers will make noises in flight if they are not carefully cleaned by the animal.
This noise damages their hunting success. Even in captivity, owls often need to be able to fly if they are actually physically able to fly.
Keeping an Owl: The Animals are Mostly Independent Creatures
These birds are called raptors that live and hunt independently of each other. Unlike other species of large birds such as macaws or cockatoos, owls do not live in flocks of wild animals. They are extremely antisocial creatures when compared to other bird species.
Social contacts among their own kind are only maintained with their companions and their offspring. This important aspect must be taken into account when keeping the owl as a pet.
It is the herd mentality that enables a parrot to successfully integrate into a human family. However, because the owls lack this type of behavior, the owl as a pet regards everyone as an enemy or even prey, except for the one person they choose as their “companion”.
You are therefore likely to attack other people on sight. This can be a big problem if you ever get sick, travel, or are otherwise unable to take care of your owl.
And since they mate for a lifetime, if they are put into the care of another person, they can lapse into depression, sometimes severe, until they die.
Its Diet is Specialized
Appropriate feeding of owls is another concern that makes it nearly impossible to successfully care for owls as pets.
Because owls are technically birds of prey, they have specific nutritional needs that cannot be met by feeding them seeds, pellets, or fresh foods like fruits and vegetables.
In fact, if you presented any of these goodies to an owl, he or she probably wouldn’t even recognize them as food. Owls are carnivorous creatures and must be fed whole rodents such as mice, small rabbits, guinea pigs, quails, and small chickens.
These feed animals are produced commercially by farms. Only with this diet is it possible to meet the owl’s complex nutritional needs. For preservation, transport, and preparation, the prey must first be frozen and then thawed before being fed. Few dealers also offer live feed animals for the species-appropriate live feeding of the owl.
As you can imagine, this can be a less pleasant ordeal, let alone having to feed the owl several times a day. Like all birds, owls can be pretty filthy eaters. Hence, tidying up and cleaning up after feeding will be another chore that most people will find difficult to put up with.
As carnivores, owls are equipped with a beak and claws specially designed for tearing up and chopping up pieces of meat. Hence, they are also capable of inflicting great harm on people if for any reason they become dissatisfied.
They are destructive and can easily rip up anything you have in their house.
Many Species of Owls are Protected
It is illegal to have certain species of owls as pets because they are protected. Those who nonetheless choose to defy the law and care for an owl face a host of additional problems anyway.
If the bird gets sick, there is usually no other option but to take it to a veterinarian who specializes in raptors. However, the vast majority of veterinarians are not specifically trained to treat these amazing birds.
Introducing an owl to a veterinarian carries the risk that illegal possession will be detected, reported, and possibly punished, as you will need approval and extensive training to become a certified and licensed professional owl keeper.