Pet Owls

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus).
Gallo Images/Frank de Luyck/Photodisc/Getty Images

Harry Potter and Warner Brothers movie studios have brought a lot of media attention to pet owls. Harry Potter has a Snowy Owl that he takes to Hogwarts, the wizarding school, with him, and the movie, "Legend of the Guardians," has sparked an interest in owls. These examples encourage people to think that owls can are easy and acceptable pets. In fact, India is now facing an endangered owl crisis thanks to the popular movies depicting owls as pets.

While it can be quite common and enjoyable to have a pet parrot, the same is not necessarily true for a pet owl. 

Basic Facts About Owls

There are over 200 different kinds of owls, ranging in weights from 1 ounce to 10 pounds. Snowy owls are probably the most popular pet owl because of the Harry Potter movies. Owls eat small mammals, other birds, and insects. Owls catch their prey using their large talons and sharp beaks. Most owls are nocturnal and hunt their prey using their unique owl features, including their eyesight, hearing, talons and unique body. 

Pet Owls

Owls don't talk, are most active at night, and eat whole prey food. All these characteristics make for a unique and unconventional pet. Owls are extremely smart birds, often associated with wisdom in western culture. They are typically solitary and aren't known to be affectionate, toward each other or humans.

In captivity, owls are usually fed whole, live, or pre-killed mice, rats, chicks and more.

A varied diet is important to maintain, making it difficult to properly care for an owl as a pet. This prey-based diet is something that potential pet owners need to be aware of and consider the logistics of how they plan to feed their pet owl. While these details are never discussed in Hollywood movies, they are essential to the care and wellbeing of the owl.


Pet Owl Alternatives

A more practical approach to pet ownership is adopting or caring for, an owl that is in a pet sanctuary or animal center. These animal sanctuaries may help heal injured animals from the wild or care for wild animals that were initially pets and can no longer be cared for by their owners. Often birds of prey are housed within their own center or wing of a larger animal sanctuary. Many birds of prey centers have owls that can be adopted by multiple people (or families).  

With a program like this, the owl will remain living at the center. Professionals at the sanctuary will continue to care for the bird properly, but you or your child can go visit the bird anytime. There may be opportunities for more interactive engagement with the owl such as helping to feed the owl, taking part in its care, or caring for its habitat. By working with a verified animal sanctuary, this helps out a wild animal in need, the center who cares for the owls and allows you and your child to feel engaged with the owl (and other animals) on a very personal level.