It has been observed that every child or even a grown up in some cases, yearns to have an owl for a pet after watching the popular Harry Potter series of movies. Everybody wants a handsome snowy white owl like Hedwig. And why not! Owls have it all in their looks. Each of the owl breeds have this royal air about themselves which make them all the more desirable. However, it is highly recommended that having an owl for a pet is only for those who are professionals at handling them. In some countries, it is even illegal to own owls. In some parts of India, owls are considered a bad omen. J.K.Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series herself has said “If anybody has been influenced by my books to think an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can; you are wrong”.
Owls have a temperament of their own and are very moody. They wish to live life by their own terms. Captivating them and trying to tame them would be harmful to them as well as the people around them. Many people assume that it would be cool and awesome to have owls for pets but they have no idea about the lows of caring for one.
The International Owl Centre gives the following ten reasons why having an owl for a pet is light years away from a good idea.
Trips/Tours are difficult;
It is very unhealthy for an owl to travel. Owls are very cold towards strangers and hence will not be very happy about the presence of hundreds of other co passengers. Plus owls kind of have an obsessive compulsive disorder. Anything out of the regular schedule bothers them. You can’t even leave them behind unattended because that will piss them off more.
Owls can be very destructive;
The killing instinct is natural in them. They drift into ninja mode with anything that sets them up in a mood. Pillows, soft toys, clothes, blankets or anything that can be shredded instigate them into a battle. They also like dropping things placed at an elevated platform. So, yeah, sadism redefined!
Noisy mating season;
Owls are night birds, which is a known fact. That is not to be forgotten even when mating is taken into account. They keep hooting and calling during mating season and remember again, this all happens at night time. It will be really disturbing if your slumber is interrupted by creepy hooting noises, plus you will have to pull lots of strings together later to be in your neighbours’ good books, mostly to no avail.
Owls are not the mushy type;
It’s a human tendency to get really mushy with animals and people they love. We love to cuddle, pull the cheeks, and play with the fur and stuff. Watch out for the claws and the beak though if you ever try that with an owl. Owls do not like to be cuddled or petted or even touched. They would rather have you hate them than get all touchy and mushy.
Daily grooming, feeding, attention, cleaning is a must. You also need to fly them regularly. And you need to get really huge cages so that they do not get cranky and get lot of exercise.
Long term commitment;
Owls live for very long if well taken care of. Small breeds can live up to ten years. Some of them could live as long as thirty years which is almost half of an estimated human life span. Hence if you are committing to taking care of an owl, then you are in it for life.
Sharp beak and claws;
There is an easy prescribed way of knowing the dislikes of an owl or there is a hard way to figure that out that may result in you ending up bruised and bleeding. If owls do not like what you are doing around them, they will let you know and they will make sure that the way in which they do that, you will remember it till you take the very last breath of your life. It is recommended that you have heavy gloves for protection and in spite of that, accidents happen when the owl tends to scratch the bare exposed skin.
Most veterinarians are not efficient enough to take care of owls. They are usually trained at taking care of cats, dogs and other usual pets. You need to find out if you have a vet specially trained to take care of owls nearby, because sometimes, the symptoms of ill health in owls are very subtle and hence you yourself must be trained and informed. This is one reason that getting permits for ownership of owls is difficult and requires specialized training.
They are a mess;
They shed feathers in thousands in a year, puke out fur pellets and undigested food whenever and wherever they feel like it. Their excreta is extremely unpleasant smelling which is very frequent to owls like all other birds and they leave stains behind. It requires nonstop cleaning when dealing with an owl.
You can’t just walk into a pet store and ask for tinned owl food. Owls are strictly carnivores and they require their daily dose of whole animals (rodents) for proper maintenance of their system. You will have to cut up nasty animals every day for the rest of your life if you wish to have an owl. If the idea makes you feel weak in the intestines then you better drop the idea right now.