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 today they are highly prized birds.
Types of Owls
Can you really 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 owl species that are sold in stores have been captured for sale.
There are some species, such as the North American tawny owl, that if raised from birth to go into captivity, it may adapt 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.
Also, owls are nocturnal birds, and at night it is not always pleasant to hear the sounds they can make. On the other hand, there is their diet, which is quite specific, which can become a problem for their 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 one best pet. But, it must be remembered that this will always depend on the species.
Are they the same as owls?
Owls and owls are not the same. Both species are indeed birds of prey and nocturnal, in addition to belonging to the same family, the Strigiformes. However, the owl belongs to the family Strigidae, while the owl belongs to the family Tutyonidae.
They also have some notable physical differences, such as the shape of the head. Owls have large, round heads, while owls are usually heart-shaped and pointed. The owl’s eyes are larger and closer together, with plumes of feathers on its head and smaller legs than owls.
And how do they live in freedom?
There are many species of owls scattered around the world, but they all share the same characteristics: they are nocturnal, predatory birds that usually live in tree cavities. Some, like the burrowing owl, live in a burrow, like a rabbit.
They are as good hunters as eagles, so it is not surprising that some can participate in hunting contests. They are characterized by being cautious, patient, and exploited birds. They can wait for hours until they see a chance to go after their prey and hunt it, then tear it apart with their claws and end its life with its strong beak.
Can you tell the sex of an owl?
In some species, it can be easy to recognize the sex of an owl, as it is sexually dimorphic. This is usually that the female is a little bigger than the male or that her colors are a little duller or that she lacks some distinctive sign of the male.
However, most owl species do not display sexual dimorphism, so the only way to determine their sex is through a DNA test or by feeling their genitalia. The latter can only be done by experts, as 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, such as the snowy owl.
But some specimens can live up to 50 years of life in captivity, as is the case of the eagle owl, which is usually only kept in captivity in the case of perpetuating the species or in zoos.
What do you need to have to take care of an owl?
The big problem with owls is that being a bird that in many countries is prohibited from keeping it in captivity, there is little information.
The cage always has to be outside, located in a place without drafts, and in which the owl has enough sunlight but never hits it directly, so that it does not disturb the hours of sleep. On the other hand, it has to be filled with natural branches and a cavity inside a trunk in which it can take shelter when it wants to sleep. It would be good if it had a canvas base at the base so that it does not tear the surface on which the cage is placed when walking.
In terms of 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 don’t have to have toys or perches if you are going to have natural branches. Besides, they would not support your weight, since most owls exceed one kilo.
Your drinker must be easily accessible so that you do not have problems when it comes to drinking water. And if the cage is big enough, you can put a fountain or a large bowl with water for it to take baths.
Many people get 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 live in captivity.
Is it true that they are violent towards human beings?
There have been many cases of owls that have attacked humans. Many of the species are very dangerous, as their claws are very sharp and can easily tear meat.
But, in most cases, these attacks are due to humans having 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 the wild, before entering their 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 eat it while they are alive. They have a strong urge to search for their prey because it gives them satisfaction in killing it. Also, they are birds with the best vision in the world, so it is not difficult for them to find prey.
Their diet is made up especially of small animals, such as mice. Owls were introduced in some cities to take care of the mouse infestations. But they also eat 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 owls’ diet, and some other mammals also tend to succumb to their claws, such as squirrels. If 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 go without eating for another 12 hours. Due to this special diet, few are those who try to keep them in captivity, since they do not like to see an animal devour another alive.
If I get an owl as a pet, can I keep it in a flat?
An owl is not like a lovebird or a canary. You need the fresh air that you will only have outside, so you cannot have it in a flat. It also cannot be put on a balcony or near a window.
If you are thinking of having an owl as a pet, you must have a large garden in which you can put a large cage so that it has freedom of movement. If you take care of him from a young age, you may even be able to free him and not have to worry about setting up a cage.
What diseases can an owl have?
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 is:
- Stroke: The animal will suffer jerks and muscle contractions. They are usually typical in birds that have been caught in the wild.
- Aspergillosis: The well-known asper disease is caused by a fungal infection and can be fatal. In the case of treating it quickly, you do not have to worry about the health of the bird because it will recover.
- Blockage: Although it is not a disease, it can be confused with one. It’s basically a blockage in your throat when trying to swallow a larger piece than can fit through such a narrow cavity.
- Nails: This disease occurs in the lower part of the legs, due to bacteria. Usually caused by not having adequate perches in their cage or because their cage is not clean.
- Capillaria: It is also called nematodes and is caused by worms called amulata capillaria that become embedded in the lining of the esophagus, crop, or 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 bacteria called osittaci chlamydophilia. Your eyes, nasal membranes will become inflamed and it will be difficult for you to breathe.
- Coccidiosis: A disease of the digestive system caused by a parasite called a protozoan. In many cases, it requires an operation to be able to extract the parasite.
- Cramps: If frozen food is given to the bird, such as rabbit or chicken meat, it is normal that they end up suffering from cramps. It is best to give fresh food or live animals to prevent them from getting it.
- Depression: Since owls are animals that are used to living in the wild if you’ve moved from an open world to a cage, it’s not uncommon for you to feel depressed. It is also possible that he suffers from depression if he is a very affectionate animal and is ignored.
- Dehydration: The cage always has to be located in a place where it has a good amount of shade and it is not too hot, or the animal may become dehydrated. To avoid this, you must always have fresh water at your side.
- Escherichia coli: If the owl’s cage is not properly cleaned, it can be contaminated by fecal matter. It will change the mood of the bird and it will appear that it is more dejected.
- Trematodes: These are flat parasites that get into the digestive system of your bird. It is not very difficult to remove.
- French molt: All birds shed their feathers at least once a year. But if you notice that he is plucking or shedding his feathers early, you will need to take him to the vet to have a look at him.
- Avian Trichoniasis: 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 euthanize the bird to prevent others from becoming infected.
- Gapeworms: Worms that adhere to the inner wall of the trachea and cause the animal to suffocate. In some cases, it can be treated if caught quickly, but it is usually fatal.
- Gout: It is caused by kidney problems. It is usually due to a lack of nutrition or that the bird is not well hydrated.
- Haemorproteus: An infection of the blood by flat flies. It is generally an infection that affects pigeons, but it can also occur in birds of prey.
- Herpes: Yes, birds can also suffer from herpes. They can be fatal if they are not treated quickly by an experienced person.
- Impaction: It is quite rare for this disease to occur in birds, but not impossible. It is caused because the bird eats many materials from the ground, and this causes them to swallow wood or earth. It will be enough to give him enough water so that he can digest them well.
- Poisoning: Lead is deadly to birds, and it is found in many foods. That is why you should never give him foods like chocolate.
- Nit: It is one of the greatest enemies of birds. It usually gets between the bird’s feathers and they begin to peck it. Given this, you have to spray the bird and pass a towel to finish them off.
- Malaria: It is transmitted through mosquitoes. One of the symptoms is that the diarrhea is light green in color.
- MBD: Metabolic bone 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 general rule, the only solution is the sacrifice of the bird or it could infect others. Even people.
- Pox: Pox flu can be caused by another bird that is infected or that the hygienic conditions of its cage are not adequate.
- Rickets: Generally it occurs in the youngest specimens, which are still forming. For their bone mass to develop properly, they must be given vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus.
- Ascaris: They are roundworms that intrude into your digestive system. As a general rule, the bird will lose weight, have diarrhea, and will not have much appetite. It may require a surgical intervention.
- Tapeworms: This is a parasitic infestation of the digestive system. You will be grounded, lose weight, and suffer from a general malaise. You can see some parasites in their droppings. You have to give him the medication that the vet says.
- Torticollis: As a general rule, torticollis is a symptom rather than a disease. But it is also possible that the bird suffers from it and cannot position its head in a straight line.
How do owls reproduce?
Although isolated animal owls who like to live their life alone, when it is the time of mating they join with the females to create offspring. Although there are some species of owls that mate 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 themselves in tree cavities, crevices, or in nest boxes that have been placed by humans. Once mating has happened, the female will lay three to seven eggs, one day apart from each other, and will be incubating them for a month or so. In some cases, they can be incubated for up to 50 days.
When the chicks have been born, it is the male who is dedicated to looking for food to take it to his family and the female feeds them. The chicks do not have feathers until they are one month old and remain with their mother until they are two or three months old, at which time they start to live their own lives.
Although for most of its life the owl may appear to be a very lonely bird, the truth is that there is no more protective bird with its young. Most of the attacks on humans have occurred because they have entered their territory and have felt that their chicks were in danger.
Do I have to know something before I have an owl?
If it is the bird that you have intended as a pet, first of all, you will have to know some things about it, starting with:
- The care of owls is very specific, so it cannot be done by an inexperienced person. It is not an animal that can be had to gain experience.
- They don’t adapt well to changes, so they won’t like you moving their cage around or leaving it with someone else when you go on vacation. If you go somewhere for a long period of time, you will have to take it with you.
- He needs daily flight exercises, so he has to have enough space in his cage for this. Otherwise, it will have to be taken out of the cage so that it can fly, but first, you have to train it.
- Since they feed on animals, you have to have a place in the house where they can be kept whole. Also, owls do not like viscera, so they must be removed before giving it to them.
- You may be lucky to have an owl that is very affectionate, but as a general rule, it is an aggressive bird.
- During mating season, they make continuous night 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 raptors they may be the target of these, so keep that in mind when hosting one.