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Owls

Owls can be excellent and very mysterious birds. In many countries they represent wisdom, while for others, for a long time it was a symbol of bad omen. But, at present, they are very well appreciated birds.

Types of owls

Can you seriously have an owl as a pet?

In this aspect you have to be very careful. Many species of owl are protected by animal protection laws and are not suitable for living in captivity. Not to mention that 70% of the species of owls sold in stores has been captured for sale.

There are some species, such as the North American Tawny Owl, that if it is bred from birth to go in captivity, it is possible that it adapts to your home. But, in the case of other species such as the snowy owl or the eagle owl there is no possibility of adaptation to life in captivity.


In addition, owls are nocturnal birds, and at night it is not always pleasant to hear the sounds they can emit. On the other hand, there is its diet, which is quite specific, which can be a problem for its caregiver.

Of course, there are many cases of people who have managed to tame an owl without problems and confess that they have never had a better pet. But, it must be remembered that this will always depend on the species.

How do they live in freedom?

There are many species of owl scattered around the world, but all share the same characteristics: they are nocturnal behavior birds, raptors and they usually live in cavities of trees. Some, like the burrowing owl, live in a burrow, as if it were a rabbit.

They are as good hunters as eagles, so it is not strange that some can participate in hunting contests. They are characterized for being cautious, patient and used birds. They can wait for hours until they see the opportunity to go for their prey and hunt it, then tear it with their claws and end their lives with their strong beak.

Can you know the sex of an owl?

In some species it can be easy to recognize the sex of an owl, as it presents sexual dimorphism. This is usually that the female is a little larger than the male or that their colors are a little more muted or that they lack any distinctive male sign.

However, most species of owls do not show sexual dimorphism, so the only way to determine their sex is through a DNA test or palpating their genitals. The latter can only be done by experts, since it is not easy to identify the male and female with this method.

What is the life expectancy of an owl?

The life expectancy of an owl depends on the species to which they belong. There are some species of owls that do not live more than 10 years, as it can be the case of the snowy owl.

But there are specimens that can live up to 50 years  in captivity, as is the case with the eagle owl, which is usually only allowed to be kept in captivity in the case of perpetuating the species or in zoos.

What should you have to take care of an owl?

The big problem with owls is that being a bird that in many countries is prohibited from having it in captivity, there is little information.

The cage always has to be outside, located in a place without corrientes de aire and in which the owl has enough sunlight but never gives it directly, so as not to disturb the hours of sleep. On the other hand, it has to be full of natural branches and a cavity inside a trunk where you can take shelter when you want to sleep. It would be good if the base had a canvas base, so that it does not tear the surface on which the cage is placed when walking.

As for the size, it has to be very large, more than 3 meters high and 2 meters wide, so that the animal can move freely within it. You do not must to have toys or hangers if you are going to have natural branches. In addition, they would not support their weight, since most of the owls exceed one kilo.

its drinker must be easily accessible, so iy do not has problems when drinking water. And if the cage is large enough, you can put a large bowl or fountain with water for bathing.

Many people get to have owls living in their gardens and interact with them, giving them food. The truth is that it is the best way to live with these animals, since it is not a species used to life in captivity.

Is it true that they are violent with human beings?

There has been many cases of owls that has attacked humans. Many of the species are very dangerous, since their claws are very sharp and can rip the meat without problems.

But, in most cases, these attacks are due to the fact that human beings has entered their territory. Owls are very protective animals with their territory and do not accept anyone approaching, including humans. If you are going to try to go see an owl in freedom, before entering its territory it is better to know if there has been an attack.

What do owls eat?

Like eagles, owls are raptors that attack their prey and devour it while they are alive. They has a strong impulse to look for their prey, because it gives satisfaction to the slaughter of this one. In addition, they are birds with the best vision in the world, so it is not difficult for them to find prey.

Its diet consists especially of small animals, such as mice. In some cities owls were introduced to take over the pests of mice. But they also feed on invertebrate animals such as spiders, insects, snails, crabs and earthworms. Some specimens eat fish, reptiles, amphibians and, rarely, other types of birds. In fact, some large owls can attack and feed on other species of owls.

Rabbits are another important part of feeding the owls, and some other mammals also tend to end up succumbing to their claws, like squirrels. In the case that the owl sees that its prey has already been attacked or that it is injured, it will ignore it, because they prefer to hunt one that is in perfect condition.

Some species of owl can eat for 12 hours straight and then spend another 12 without eating anything. Due to this special feeding, few are those who try to have them in captivity, since they do not like to see how an animal devours another alive.

If I get an owl as a pet, can I have it on a floor?

An owl is not like a lovebird or a canary. it need the fresh air that it will only has outside, so you can not have it in a flat. Nor can it be placed on a balcony or near a window.

In the case of thinking about having an owl as a pet, you must to have a large garden in which you can put a large cage so that it has freedom of movement. If you take care of it from small, it is possible that until you can have it in freedom and you do not have to worry about to mount it a cage.

What diseases can an owl has?

Since it is a bird of prey, it shares many diseases with other species, such as eagles. The most common in this type of bird are:

  • Stroke: The animal will suffer shaking and contractions in the muscles. They are usually typical of birds that has been captured in the wild.
  • Aspergillosis: The well-known asper’s disease is caused by a fungal infection and can be lethal. In the case of treating it quickly, there is no need to worry about the bird’s health because it will recover.
  • Blockade: Although it is not a disease, it can be confused with one. Basically it is a blockage in its throat when trying to swallow a larger piece than they can go through such a narrow cavity.
  • Nails: This disease occurs in the lower part of the legs, because of the bacteria. Usually caused by not having adequate hangers in their cage or because their cage is not clean.
  • Capillaria: It also receives the name of nematodes and is caused by worms called amulata capillaria that are embedded in the lining of the esophagus, the crop or the small intestine.
  • Chlamydia: It is very common in parrots, which is why it is called parrot fever. But it can also affect birds of prey. It is caused by a bacterium called osittaci chlamydophilia. its eyes, its nasal membranes will swell and it will be difficult for you to breathe
  • Coccidiosis: A disease of the digestive system caused by a parasite called protozoan. In many cases it requires an operation to be able to extract the parasite.
  • Cramps: In the event that frozen food is given to the bird, such as rabbit or chicken meat, it is normal to end up suffering from cramps. The best thing is to give fresh food or live animals to prevent them from suffering it.
  • Depression: Since owls are animals that are used to living in freedom, if it has moved from an open world to a cage, it is not strange that it feel depressed. It is also possible that it suffers from depression if it is a very affectionate animal and it is ignored.
  • Dehydration: The cage always has to be located in a place where there is a good amount of shade and it is not too hot, or the animal may become dehydrated. To avoid it, it must always has fresh water by it side.
  • Escherichia coli: If the owl’s cage is not cleaned properly, it can be contaminated by fecal matter. It will change the mood of the bird and it will seem that it is more dejected.
  • Trematodes: These are flat parasites that get into your bird’s digestive system. It is not very difficult to eliminate.
  • French mute: All birds shed their feathers at least once a year. But in the event that you notice that you are plucking feathers or that you are moving them ahead of time, you will have to take them to the vet to have a look.
  • Avian triconiasis: It is better known as Frounce, a fungal infection of the digestive tract that is very contagious. It can be treated, but in some cases it is necessary to sacrifice the bird to prevent others from catching it.
  • Gapeworms: Worms that adhere to the inner wall of the trachea and that causes the animal to suffocate. In some cases it can be treated if it is detected quickly, but as a rule it is deadly.
  • Gout: It is caused by kidney problems. It is usually due to a lack of nutrition or that the bird is not well hydrated
  • Haemoproteus: An infection of the blood by flat flies. It is usually an infection that affects pigeons, but it can also occur in birds of prey.
  • mpactation: It is quite rare that this disease occurs in birds, but not impossible. It is provoked because the bird eats many soil materials, and this makes them swallow wood or dirt. It will be enough to give it enough water so he can digest them well.
  • Poisoning: Lead is deadly to birds, and it is found in many foods. That’s why you should never give food like chocolate.
  • Nit: It is one of the biggest enemies of birds. It is usually put between the feathers of the bird and begin to peck. Before this, you have to spray the bird and pass a towel to finish them.
  • Malaria: It is transmitted through mosquitoes. One of the symptoms is that the diarrhea is a light green color.
  • MBD: Bone metabolic diseases can be very serious for birds, but luckily they are easy to prevent if the animal is fed properly.
  • Newcastle Disease: A very contagious disease that, as a rule, the only solution that has s the sacrifice of the bird or could infect others. Even people.
  • Pox: The pox flu can be caused by another bird that is infected or that the hygienic conditions of its cage are not adequate.
  • Rickets: Usually occurs in younger specimens, which are still forming. For its bone mass to develop properly, you have to give them vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus.
  • Ascaris: They are round worms that are intruding on your digestive system. As a general rule the bird will lose weight, will has diarrhea and will not has much appetite. It may require a surgical intervention.
  • Tapeworms: It is a parasitic infestation of the digestive system.it will has dirt, lose weight and suffer general malaise. You can see some parasites in their droppings. You have to give it the medication that the veterinarian says.
  • Torticollis: As a general rule, torticollis is a symptom rather than a disease. But it is also possible that the bird suffers and can not place the head in a straight line.

How do owls reproduce?

Although the owls are isolated animals and they like to live their lives alone, when it is the time of mating they join with the females to create offspring. Although there are some species of owls that are paired with a female for life, but there are very few cases.

As a general rule, owls take advantage of the nests of other birds, locating in cavities of trees, cracks or nest boxes that has been placed by humans. Once the mating has happened, the female will lay three to seven eggs, with a day difference between each, and will be incubating them for a month. In some cases you can get to be incubating up to 50 days.

When the chicks has been born, it is the male who dedicates itself to find food to take to its family and the female feeds them. The chicks do not has feathers until they reach the month of life and remain with their mother until they reach two or three months, when they start to live their own lives.

Although for most of its life the owl can seem to be a very lonely bird, the truth is that there is no more protective bird with their young. Most attacks on humans has occurred because they has entered their territory and has felt that their chicks were in danger.

I have to know something before I have an owl?

If it is the bird that you have thought of as a pet, first of all you are going to know some things about it, starting with:

  • The care of the owls is very specific, so it can not be done by an inexperienced person. It is not an animal that you can have to get experience.
  • They do not adapt well to changes, so they will not like you to move their cage or leave it with another person when you go on vacation. If you go somewhere for a long period of time, you will have to take it with you.
  • It need daily flight exercises, so you must to have enough space in its cage . Otherwise, it will be necessary to remove it outside the cage so that it can fly, but first it is necessary to train it.
  • Since it feeds on animals, it is necessary to have a place in the house where they can be kept whole. In addition, owls do not like viscera, so you have to remove them before giving to them.
  • You may be lucky enough to have an owl that is very affectionate, but as a rule it is a bird with an aggressive nature.
  • In mating season they make continuous nocturnal calls that can be very annoying and affect the people who inhabit the home and surroundings.
  • If you live in an area where there are birds of prey, you may be targeting them, so keep that in mind when it comes to hosting one.