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Can You Have a Pet Owl? (5 Species That Can Be Pets)

Owls generally make for bad pets. They’re difficult to keep, and they have certain requirements that can be hard to fulfill. Ordinary people are better off with other animals as pets.

Owls are amazing, mysterious creatures that have long captured the imagination of humans. These regal birds of prey come in many shapes and sizes.

But do owls make for good pets? Can you even own a pet owl?

If you’re considering adding an owl to your family, read on to learn about 5 different pet owl species and what makes each one unique.

5 Owl Breeds That You Can Consider As Pets

1. Barn Owl

Common namesCommon Barn-Owl, Lechuza de campanario, Barn Owl, effraie de clochers, Western Barn Owl
Size12.5 to 15 inches
Lifespan15 to 20 years

The barn owl (Tyto alba) is a common species of owl found throughout the world. They are usually brown or white in color with heart-shaped faces. Barn owls can make great pets, if you know how to handle them.

Barn owls are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. During the day, they like to rest in a dark and quiet place. They eat mostly small rodents, but will also eat insects, birds, and reptiles.[1]

Barn owl at a bird show

2. Speckled Owl 

Common namesArizona Spotted Owl, Mexican Spotted Owl, California Spotted Owl, Northern Spotted Owl, Western Barred Owl, Wood Owl
Size17 to 19 inches
Lifespan20 years

The speckled owl (Strix occidentalis strix) is a medium-sized owl found in North America. They are brown and white with dark spots on their feathers.

Speckled owls make good pets for people who are interested in birds of prey and want to learn how to care for them. 

They require a large cage with perches and need lots of time out of the cage to exercise.

For food, they can be fed mice, birds, or other small prey items. Speckled owls can be taught to fly to a person’s hand for food, and often respond to their name.

Speckled Owl

3. Oriental Bay Owl

Common namesAsian Bay Owls or Common Bay Owls
Size9 to 11.4 inches
Lifespan10 to 25 years

The Oriental Bay Owl (Ptilopsis leucotis) is a small owl found in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. They are mainly brown with a few white spots, and have a characteristic heart-shaped facial disk.

Oriental Bay Owls are active during the day and prefer to perch in trees or other high places. They eat a variety of prey, including insects, rodents, and small birds. They are rarely aggressive towards people and can make good pets if trained correctly.

Oriental Bay Owls

4. Mountain scops Owl

Common namesMountain scops owl
Size9.1 to 11 inches
Lifespan12 years

Mountain scops owl is a species of owl that is found in the mountains of southeastern Asia. They are usually about 8-10 inches in length and have a wingspan of about 16-18 inches. They are brown or gray in color with white spots on their feathers.[2]

Mountain scops owls are calm and can be trained to do simple tricks. They are also very quiet, so they won’t disturb your sleep. They require a lot of attention, however, and need to be handled every day.

Mountain scops Owl

5. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Common namesNorthern Saw-Whet Owl
Size6.7 to 8.7 inches
Lifespan7 to 16 years

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is a small owl found in North America. They are the smallest owl in the United States and Canada. Northern Saw-Whet Owls have brown feathers with white spots.

Northern Saw-Whet Owls can make adequete pets. They are quiet and easy to care for. These owls do well in captivity and can live for many years. Northern Saw-Whet Owls are available from bird breeders and pet stores. They can be purchased for around $150-$200.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Can You Have an Owl as a Pet?

The United States does not allow pet owls. Owls can only be kept by individuals with proper licensing and training. If you don’t live in the United States, you may be able to keep an owl as a pet.

The United States doesn’t allow owls as pets. Only licensed individuals are allowed to keep owls as part of the rehabilitation program.[3]

This is because owls are wild animals and they need to be in an environment that is similar to their natural habitat. If you try to keep an owl as a pet, it may become stressed and sick.

Do Owls Make Good Pets?

No, owls generally don’t make for good pets. Owls are wild animals and are predators by nature. This means that they have very specific needs in terms of their environment and diet that may be difficult, or even impossible, for most people to meet.

There are some people who have successfully kept owls as pets. 

If you are considering getting an owl for a pet, it is important to do your research and make sure that you can meet all of the owl’s needs.

This includes providing:

  • a large enough enclosure.
  • a diet that meets the owl’s dietary needs.
  • plenty of enrichment activities to keep the owl stimulated.

If you can provide everything that an owl needs, they can make wonderful pets.

Why Don’t Owls Make Good Pets?

Owls are predatory creatures. Handling them requires training and a special skill set. If you’re not prepared to handle an owl properly, it can become stressed and may even lash out at you or your family.

Another reason owls don’t make good pets is that they require a lot of care. They need to be fed fresh meat, which can be expensive and difficult to come by. 

In addition, owls need a lot of space to fly around in, so they’re not suitable for smaller homes.

Lastly, owls can be quite noisy. They hoot and screech a lot, which can be annoying for people who live in close quarters. If you’re looking for a pet that is quiet and low-maintenance, an owl is not the right choice.

Short-Eared Owl

Challenges When Keeping Owls

Owls make fascinating pets, but they are not for everyone. 

There are a few key challenges when keeping owls as pets:

  • First, owls require a lot of space. They need a large enclosure with plenty of perching and roosting areas to feel comfortable.
  • Second, owls are not easy to tame and can be quite aggressive. It can take months, or even years, to successfully tame an owl.
  • Owls require a lot of attention and care.
  • They need to be fed a balanced diet of fresh prey items, and their enclosure must be kept clean and sanitized.

If you can’t commit to meeting all of these needs, then it’s best not to keep an owl as a pet. But if you can handle the challenges involved in keeping them, then an owl can be a rewarding and unique addition to your home.

What to Feed a Pet Owl?

In the wild, owls eat small rodents, such as mice and rats. They may also eat other small animals, such as lizards, snakes, and frogs. In captivity, however, pet owls can be fed a variety of different foods. 

The most important thing to remember is that owls need plenty of protein.

One good option for a pet owl’s diet is to give them live animals. You can purchase small rodents from a pet store or farm supply store. Be sure to feed the owl fresh, healthy food and not leftovers.

Another option is to feed the owl dead animals. This could include small birds, such as finches or canaries, or dead mice or rats.

You can also give your owl a small amount of cooked meat, such as chicken or turkey.

Be sure to only give your owl a small amount of food at a time. Owls have a very slow metabolism and can easily become overweight if they are overfed. A healthy diet for a pet owl includes fresh water and regular vet check-ups.

Related: What Do Owls Eat?

owl eating prey at night

How to Care For a Pet Owl?

Owls have a lot of needs. They require space, a proper diet, and special care. If they aren’t trained, they can become hostile toward people.

There are a few things you should know before you decide to add an owl to your family.

Owls Require a Lot of Space

First and foremost, owls require a large cage. The minimum cage size for a pet owl is 3’x3′. The cage should be furnished with perches, a food dish, and a water dish. 

In addition, the owl’s cage should be placed in a location that receives plenty of natural light.

Owls Require a Lot of Protein in Their Diet

They should be fed a diet that consists of mostly fresh meat, such as mice, rats, chicks, or quail. It is also important to provide the owl with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Pellets designed for raptors can also be fed to owls, but should not make up the majority of their diet.

Owls Require Plenty of Exercise

They should be allowed to fly around the house for at least an hour per day. Be sure to keep all windows and doors closed while the owl is out flying, as they are known to be curious and can easily get lost indoors.

Special Veterinary Care

In addition to a proper diet and plenty of exercise, owls also require regular veterinary care. They should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and more often if they are ill.

If you are able to meet the needs of a pet owl, they can make delightful companions. Owls are intelligent and social animals who will bond with their human caregiver.

How Much Does a Pet Owl Cost?

The cost of a pet owl ranges from around $100 to $1,000, depending on the breed and rarity of the owl. Some things that can affect the price of a pet owl include whether the owl is captive-bred or wild-caught, and whether it is tamed or not.

Not only do you have to pay for the owl itself, but you also have to pay for things such as:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Water
  • Feeders
  • Veterinary costs
  • Training
  • Equipment

Before you buy an owl, be sure to ask the seller about the bird’s diet, housing requirements, and whether it has been tame-able. 

It’s also important to find an owl that is the right fit for your personality and lifestyle.


Pet owls are not recommended for most people. They are also not allowed in the US. They have many requirements and needs, both in terms of training, equipment, and diet.

Remember, these birds need a lot of space, so make sure you have the proper setup before bringing one home.

About Kaitlin Mullins

Birds are plenty, and they can be hard to keep track of. Thankfully, Katilin Mullins has taken charge of these. With plenty of free time spent bird watching, she’s a true expert on these intriguing animals.

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