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Do Owls Make Good Pets ( Can you legally own one?)

Ever since owls were romanticized as the perfect pet thanks to the Harry Potter series, the number of people wanting to keep them as a pet has increased. With their big eyes, fluffy feathers, and pleasant demeanor, who wouldn’t be interested? But while Harry Potter certainly paints a pretty picture, is keeping an owl as a pet good for you or the owl?

While there is no single answer to this question, we think that finding a different pet to keep is a better choice than keeping an owl as your buddy. There are a lot of reasons for this, including space, diet, legality, and more. 

Even though we think other animals can make a better pet for you than owls, let’s dive into the pros and cons of owning an owl so that you can make the best decision for your home. 

Why Would an Owl be a Good Choice for a Pet?

While we think other pets are a better choice, there are still good reasons people may be interested in keeping an owl; so let’s take a look at each one. 

Owls are Solitary Animals

There are several types of pets out there that require you get them a buddy or two, like guinea pigs, gerbils, and even dogs and cats in some cases. This means you have to dig up a few more bucks to pay for your buddy to have some friends. 

Owls are solitary creatures, meaning not only do they not need a pack, but they don’t depend on human attention in the same way that some other aviary pets do. They’re also nocturnal, so you don’t have to worry about not giving them enough affection- they’re okay without it. 

Owls Don’t Require a lot of Playtime

Owls are, most generally, pretty sedentary animals. The reason you always imagine an owl sitting alone on a branch is because that’s what they like to do! 

You aren’t responsible for playing with your owl a lot. That said, most of their cognitive stimulation comes from hunting, so you’ll need to have enough space for them to practice some of those behaviors on their own. 

Owls are Pretty Neat

The “pro” list wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the main reason people want to keep them as pets- they’re pretty cool creatures. They look majestic in flight, have an adorable onomatopoeia sound, and are perhaps one of the most unique-looking birds out there. 


Why Would an Owl be a Poor Choice for a Pet?

While all those things sound really nice on paper, there are more reasons owls should be left to the wild instead of in your home. 

Owls are Illegal to Own in Many Places

Owls are illegal to own as pets in many areas of the world. A lot of people choose to ignore the legality surrounding their pet owl, but the risk is high due to strict repercussions. 

Even if owning an owl is legal in your individual location, it’s worth considering the fact that it isn’t most other places. Why are owls illegal to own as pets in so many countries? These rules exist for a reason. 

It Will Have Poor Medical Care

Owls are exotic creatures, and chances are, your veterinarian down the street didn’t do their thesis on owl operations. If your beloved owl falls ill, your only option will be taking him to a regular veterinarian, who is not trained to perform that sort of care on an exotic creature. 

Owls, when housed in wildlife refuges, will have better access to the proper medical care for their species. 

Your Owl Will Need More Space Than You can Offer

Owls cannot live in large cages as parrots can- not even an entire bedroom suffices. These animals need both indoor and outdoor spaces as a part of their aviary. They also require a lot of flight time- this means your indoor and outdoor areas have to be big enough for your owl to fly around comfortably on a regular basis.

owl flying

Owls have Special Diets

The diet of an owl is not like the diet of a pet you can find at a pet store. It cannot eat pellets or seeds, fruits or vegetables, etc. They eat live, full rodents as a part of their natural carnivorous diet.

Not only that, but the actual hunt for these creatures is extremely stimulating for your owl, and he will likely become depressed if he cannot hunt for his food. 

If you don’t want to feed your owl live rodents, you’ll have to buy full rodents to freeze and thaw multiple times a day instead. Sounds like a little too much work, huh?

Owls are Solitary Animals

Wait, wasn’t this one a pro?

You’re not reading this incorrectly. While owls being solitary creatures may be a pro for you, it’s undoubtedly a con for the owl. One of the reasons animals like parrots can blend in so well with a human family dynamic is their natural inclination to social groups- both you and your parrot feel at home this way. 

Owls, on the other hand, are not naturally inclined to social groups, so it will never be able to fully integrate into your family. Rather, owls prefer to find a single mate for life. Without the opportunity to do this in a social environment he isn’t made for, he can become depressed and die. 

barn owl

As owls are legal to own as pets in some countries, the decision on whether or not to buy an owl to keep as a pet is entirely up to you. 

They can require less attention than other species and are extremely fun to look at, but factors like improper access to quality medical care, lack of proper space, specialized diets, and an inability to adapt to a human social group can make an owl the less preferable option when choosing a pet. 

Final Thoughts

We think if you’re looking for a bird to befriend, you’re better off with a parrot or some other animal that is more suited for your home. Leave owls where they belong- in the wild.

Hutch and does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim is to provide the reader with information to enable them to make a good decision when making a purchase or caring for their pet. All content is therefore for informational purposes only. If you're concerned about the health of your pet you should seek medical advice from a vet.