Can You have an owl as a Pet in Canada?

In the past few years, exotic animals such as wolves, owls, tigers, etc., have been priced as pets. This is largely due to movies and tv shows like Harry Potter and game of thrones. However, most of these animals are illegal as a pet. So, can you have a pet in Canada?

No, you can’t keep an owl as a pet in Canada. It’s illegal to buy, sell, or trade an owl in the country. Even if you have a permit to keep owls as pets, they don’t make the best pets due to various reasons such as being carnivorous, messiness, need for space and constant care, and nocturnal habits.

However, there are some countries where you can keep owls as pets, such as Japan and the UK. This article discusses owl ownership in Canada and whether it’s advisable.

Canadian Laws on Owl Ownership

Owl ownership is completely outlawed in Canada. Buying, selling, or trading is illegal. It’s even illegal to have any bird of prey, whether it’s dead or alive, in your possession without the right permit. Before obtaining such permits, they’ll need to show adequate knowledge about owls, the species, and Strigiforme life history.

Thus, on most occasions, the only set of people who can get permits to have owls in their possession are trained and licensed individuals. And they can only have them in their possession in a rehabilitation facility for education purposes, as part of breeding programs, or in the case of certain species that can be used for falconry.

Given all these conditions, it’s only in rare cases that you can keep an owl, and you’ll need to get training and a license to do that.

Why You Shouldn’t Keep Owl as Pet

Even if owls are legally allowed to be kept as pets, it’s not advisable to keep them. While they may look glamorous in movies like Harry Potter, owls are wild animals in real life and will act as such on any occasion. Here are reasons you shouldn’t get an owl as a pet.

1.   Owls are Carnivorous

Owls are wild animals that enjoy hunting for their food. Keeping one means you have to feed them raw meat every day. While it might sound easy to thaw frozen meat and feed it to them daily, it’s a Herculean task as you won’t just have to feed them. You’ll also have to clean up the leftovers. Owls also don’t eat just any kind of meat. They prefer whole animals such as rodents and guinea pigs. Apart from the difficulties of getting these animals from commercial sources, storing them right next to your frozen foods isn’t exactly enjoyable.

Beyond the challenge of feeding them, there’s the bigger challenge of cleaning up after them. Owls are known to be messy eaters. They tear their prey into shreds before they eat the bits. This is largely due to their natural hunting instincts. You’ll have to deal with cleaning up all this mess after each meal. As natural predators, they have violent tendencies, especially when it comes to food, and you might find yourself at the receiving end while offering them a meal. This is why it’s only training and licensed individuals that can keep them.

2.   Owl Require Space

When you think of birds, you might imagine a cage enclosure will do. But that’s not for owls. Owls need as much space as possible, which means you’ll need to have a special aviary built for them. You should build such aviary with strong wire or metal because owls have sharp talons which will dismantle any wood objects. Owls aren’t indoor animals. Even if you’re able to tame one, letting it fly around inside your home puts your furniture at great risk. It could shred them within hours.

Owls also need regular baths so that they can stay clean. This is an instinct for hunters because dirty feathers will make noise during flight, thereby betraying their presence to the prey. Clean feathers are always silent, and owls naturally bathe during the day. If you’re planning to have one in captivity, you’ll need to provide a big bowl or bath pan filled with water and change it regularly.

When you consider all these, you realize that the best place to keep owls in a domestic setting is an outdoor aviary. This means you won’t be able to bond properly as a pet. But owls can react negatively to being ignored once they’re familiar with human presence. So, you’ll have to find a way to balance spending time with it outdoors even though it doesn’t offer much in return.

3.   Nocturnal Habits

Owls are mostly active at night, and this is when they do their hunting and mating. Keeping one as a pet means you should be ready for disturbance complaints because they make a lot of noise during the night, especially in the mating season. Your owl in an outdoor aviary will hoot at its loudest during the dark hours, and no one enjoys their sleep being disturbed.

4.   Owls are Very Messy

Owls eat only meat and poop a lot. They can defecate just about anywhere. Due to the meat diet, you can expect their feces to contain digested meat waste which can smell very badly. Not only that, but they also regurgitate pellets of undigested feathers and bones. Even though birds are generally messy, owls are exceptionally so. Keeping means dedicating yourself to about 10 – 15 years of cleaning excrements, feathers, regurgitated pellets, and more. Nothing about that sounds fun.

5.   Owls Require Constant Care

All pets need care and attention. But it’s easier for some than others. You can easily find a pet sitter or boarding facility for some pets, such as dogs and parrots. With owls, it’s highly unlikely to get someone who’ll feed it and clean up all the mess that this dangerous bird could make. Thus, owning an owl might limit your travel options and remember, owls live long too.

In Conclusion

Keeping an owl as a pet is illegal in Canada, and you’ll need a permit to have one in your possession. But even if you can get the permit, it’s not advisable to have them as pets for various reasons.

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