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Keeping Owls as Pets: Is It Legal?

Owning a Eurasian eagle-owl is legal in certain states in the U.S.

Owning a Eurasian eagle-owl is legal in certain states in the U.S.

The idea of keeping an owl as a pet must have come from the absurdly popular Harry Potter series. Many have grown up fantasizing about having their very own Hedwig (a snowy owl in the story). We all know that large parrots are owned as pets across the nation, so what about raptors? Can you keep an owl as a pet, and if so, how do you care for one?

This article will cover the following topics:

  • Which type of owls you can legally own in the U.S. and U.K.
  • The challenges of owning a pet owl
  • What they eat
  • Habitat needs
  • Cost of owning one
  • The difficulty in handling a pet owl
  • Where you can buy one
  • Their lifespan
  • How to become a falconer
  • Ways to show your love for owls that don't involve owning one
In the United States, you cannot own a snowy owl—or any other native owl—as a pet. They are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

In the United States, you cannot own a snowy owl—or any other native owl—as a pet. They are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Can You Have an Owl as a Pet?

Many websites state that it is illegal to own an owl as a pet, but they are only partially correct.

People can own various owls in the UK, but in the United States, you cannot own a snowy owl—or any other native owl—as a pet. They are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under the same law, you cannot even possess one of their feathers without a permit from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

Permits for native raptor possession are issued only for educational purposes and for falconers. The process of becoming a legal falconer is exceptionally complex and requires training, so this is certainly not casual pet ownership. Other native owl owners are professional animal educators and nature center affiliates, so without this standing, you won’t be able to possess any native raptor.

Non-native raptors are perfectly legal, however, in states that don’t specifically prohibit them. In the United States, the most commonly available exotic owl species that requires no permits is the Eurasian eagle owl—one of the largest owls in the world. The speckled owl is another species but is rarer.


Do Owls Make Good Pets?

Owls certainly aren’t good pets for the majority of potential bird owners, including those interested in other raptors.

For people who are used to keeping parrots, perhaps expecting that they could keep an owl (especially a Eurasian eagle-owl) in a large macaw cage in their house, they should be turned off to the idea of keeping these animals when they learn about their requirements in captivity. Relative to their (already large) size, they need an extremely large outdoor enclosure for adequate welfare (or indoors, if you really do have that kind of space to dedicate).

Here are some more challenges you'll encounter as an owl owner.

  • Taking vacations can be difficult: Owls are creatures of habit and like to have a routine. A disruption of this routine is very stressful for them. In addition, they may become aggressive to another caretaker—not to mention the challenge of finding someone qualified and willing to watch them.
  • They can be destructive: You might come home to find pillows ripped to shreds or your wood floor all torn up.
  • They are high maintenance. These raptors require daily feeding, cleaning, and attention. Owls that can fly need to be exercised often or housed in cages that are big enough for them to fly around.
  • Don't expect them to be cuddly. Owls have still retained their natural instincts, and, unfortunately, snuggling with others isn't one of them.
  • It could be hard to find a vet. It's important to find someone who specializes in properly caring for pet owls, which can be difficult given how much there is to know about their health and needs.
  • They'll likely disturb your neighbors all night long. Remember that owls are nocturnal, so they'll be active while you (and your neighbors) are trying to sleep.

On the flip side, one benefit of owning an owl is the ability to satisfy your desire to own something unique and interesting. In addition, learning about a different species by caring for it and being able to get close to it on a daily basis is an experience that most people won't have in their lives.

Here's an example of what owl pellets look like.

Here's an example of what owl pellets look like.

What Do Owls Eat?

Strangely enough, many websites describe how extremely unpleasant it is to maintain an owl as a pet because you have to feed it numerous carcasses. Yes, owls are purely carnivorous and their owners must stock up on dead rodents and thaw them every day.

However, this is not really that uncommon given the popularity of snakes and carnivorous lizards that also require frozen-thawed rodents. Due to the reptile trade, there are endless places to obtain frozen rodents, chicks, rabbits, and even pigs, to feed an owl in bulk. You may need to purchase a separate freezer to accommodate it all.

Owls produce owl pellets which are regurgitated fur and bones that they will leave all over the enclosure. Owls also defecate a lot and this, plus the pellets, obviously must be regularly cleaned. Their feces are said to be particularly runny and smelly.


What Kind of Caging Do Owls Need?

  • Owls and other birds of prey are kept in what’s called a mew. These are essentially completely enclosed, large, outdoor, wooden enclosures. The sides should be composed of slats that allow in some light and air but are not too far spaced apart as to cause discomfort to the animal and potentially be accessible to outdoor animals.
  • Birds of prey actually prefer the closed-in nature of these somewhat dark enclosures because it helps them feel secure. The windows of the room should be barred for the bird’s comfort.
  • Weathering yard: This is a large, open flight cage that can be attached to a mew. It is composed of wire mesh, chain link fencing, or netting.
  • Perches can be wooden or made out of rope. In terms of their placement, they shouldn't be so close to the wall as to ruffle the bird's tail if they're facing forward.
  • There are many different ways to design mews and weather yards, as well as different substrates that work for different areas. The best substrate to choose is one that can be efficiently cleaned frequently since owls produce a lot of waste.

How Big Are Eurasian Eagle-Owls?

Eurasian eagle-owls have a wingspan of up to six feet, so this can provide some reference as to how large their mew and weathering yard should be for them to be comfortable. Some experts recommend having a pen that is a minimum of 20 feet. In addition, they can weigh four to eight pounds and take on large prey such as foxes and young roe deer in the wild.


This article is only meant to provide general information and isn’t a comprehensive pet owl care guide. If you are really interested in getting a Eurasian eagle-owl or any other higher-maintenance pet, conduct more thorough research and consult with other owners with experience in owl husbandry as well as zoos and sanctuaries.

What Is the Cost of Owning an Owl?

Note: These are just approximate costs since they will vary greatly based on where you live.

Type of ExpenseApproximate Cost

About a month's worth of food (about 200 mice)

$40 (or less if bought in bulk)

Annual wellness exam

$45-$300 (varies tremendously based on your area and how experienced the vet is with exotic animals)

Annual fecal exam


Construction of cage

$300+ (It's likely going to be upwards of $1,000 if you buy a cage)


How to Handle a Eurasian Eagle-Owl

As one of the largest owls in the world, and perhaps the largest, precaution is obviously needed when interacting with this massive bird. Eurasian eagle-owls in comparison to other birds of prey are not very social with handlers. This is why experience with training other raptors may be necessary to handle them.

People who are interested in this species—or other owls—might want to consider practicing falconry techniques such as teaching them to fly freely and returning to their owner. This would allow the animal to receive sufficient exercise and be a better companion animal, which benefits the owner too. An explanation of falconry and recall training exceeds the scope of this article, but it involves motivating the bird to return for food by keeping it at an appropriate weight. In fact, weighing owls constantly is extremely important for their long-term health. This will ensure they are being fed enough while being exercised.

People who are interested in this species—or other owls—might want to consider practicing falconry techniques such as teaching them to fly freely and returning to their owner.

People who are interested in this species—or other owls—might want to consider practicing falconry techniques such as teaching them to fly freely and returning to their owner.

Where Can You Buy a Eurasian Eagle-Owl?

These birds are regularly listed on websites where falconers advertise birds. Raptors For Sale is a site that I trust. A Eurasian eagle-owl will usually cost around $3,000. If a site is trying to sell native owls in the United States, that should be a red flag since those raptors are illegal to own unless you have the proper permits and licenses.

What Is a Eurasian Owl's Average Lifespan?

Eurasian eagle-owls can live around 20 years in the wild but up to 50 years in captivity. Do you want to possess a large bird of prey and stock up on frozen small animals for potentially half a century? This includes getting someone to care for your bird if you go away and securing a veterinarian willing to see them if needed. This is an important factor to consider. Other owls have long lifespans as well.

Many people, unfortunately, get a pet owl only to realize a few years later that it's not a good fit. It's important to note that finding an alternative home for them can be very challenging. Releasing them into the wild is basically a death sentence. Territorial and native habitat requirements are species-specific, and natural foraging tendencies may have been faded due to habituation and domestication—leading to displacement, starvation, potential disease (including introduction), the distribution of native wildlife, and death. In the U.K., it's illegal to release a barn owl that's been in captivity. And it could be difficult to find a bird sanctuary willing to take your pet since many are at capacity.

What Diseases Could Affect My Pet Owl?

Here are some diseases to watch out for when owning an owl.

  • Metabolic Bone Disease: can result from the deficiency of vitamin D, an absolute calcium deficiency, or an inappropriate calcium:phosphorus ratio
  • Avian Tuberculosis: The organism is ingested by the host, causing lesions in the intestinal wall. Unfortunately, the disease is chronic.
  • Pododermatitis or Bumble Foot: This disease is primarily a problem of captive raptors. Risk factors include improper size and shape of perches, poor sanitation, trauma, puncture wounds from prey or self-inflicted by talons, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Pox: There are at least 32 species of pox viruses that cause disease in a wide variety of avian species. Mosquitoes and other blood-sucking organisms may play a major role in transmitting this disease.
  • West Nile Virus: The West Nile typically affects juvenile raptors and some of the best ways to protect your owl from it is to cover outdoor facilities with mosquito netting and use USDA-approved carbon dioxide mosquito traps.
  • Aspergillosis: It's one of the most frequently encountered mycotic diseases in avian species and one of the most devastating diseases of raptors.
  • Candidiasis: This organism commonly affects the gastrointestinal tract and results in either plaque-like lesions on the tongue, pharynx, and crop or a deep-seated infection of the gastrointestinal tract with or without oral lesions.
  • Trichomoniasis (Frounce): These infections are seen in captive raptors fed a diet of freshly killed pigeons.
  • Hemoparasites: A type of parasite frequently observed on blood smears of raptors.
  • Lead Poisoning: This is an intoxication resulting from absorption of hazardous levels of lead (generally from lead pellets) into body tissues.

Many sellers prefer to sell to owners who have some experience with birds of prey. In general, it is a good idea to become familiar with them before seriously considering purchasing one because there might be aspects of their care that you will deem to be too much to handle.

Particularly with Eurasian eagle-owls, they are large birds that could cause harm with their beak and talons, and they require a dedicated owner to commit to their welfare in captivity. Understanding and learning how to train them is important, however many people have a natural affinity for animal training techniques and can be self-taught as long as they are willing to continue learning from experienced people.

How to Become a Falconer

Since 2012, a state falconry permit is the only thing required to be in compliance with federal regulations—you no longer need a federal permit as well.

1. Inquire With Your State About Falconry Permit Requirements

The first thing you'll want to do is check with your state's licensing office to see what is required in order to obtain a permit. It's important to note that falconry is prohibited in Hawaii. Also, the minimum age for having a permit is 12 years old, but some states require you to be older.

2. Read More About The State's Regulations and Level of Care Required

The state will send you a list of materials that includes information on caring for these raptors. You'll want to seriously consider if you're ready to put in the work. It would also be a good idea to reach out to a local or state falconry organization, if possible. They may be able to also send you some in-depth literature on regulations and other pertinent information.

3. Find a Sponsor

Every new falconer needs to have a sponsor for at least the first two years. New falconers are called apprentices and serve under either a general or master class falconer. Some potential sponsors will require you to hunt with them for a year before agreeing to be your sponsor. You may also be required to take a hunting safety course.

4. Pass the Written Exam

You must pass the written exam with a score of 80% or higher in order to obtain your permit and license. The exam consists of questions designed to test your knowledge of birds of prey, raptor biology, health care of the birds, laws, and more.

Your sponsor will oversee the construction of your facilities to house your raptor since there are strict legal requirements. These facilities will be inspected by someone from your state wildlife agency. This person will also inspect all of your equipment.

6. Submit Application for Approval

You must have all of the necessary permits and licenses before acquiring your first owl.

Love Owls but Don't Want to Own One?

If you're not ready to make the commitment of owning an owl, there are other ways you can show your love for these raptors.

Symbolically Adopt an Owl

There are nonprofits around the world that let people symbolically adopt an owl. There's even one in the United Kingdom, The Owls Trust, that will give you free entry to meet your owl. While this mainly consists of donating money to help pay for the care of the owls, it's a great way to support an animal you love. In return, you'll usually get a photograph, a stuffed animal, and/or a certification of adoption.

Volunteer at an Owl Sanctuary

If you're lucky enough to live near an owl sanctuary, like Owl's Nest in Tampa Bay, Florida, you can look into volunteer opportunities. Do a Google search to see if there are any sanctuaries nearby.

Become a Docent

If you want to hang out with owls (and other animals) while educating others about these wonderful creatures, look into volunteering as a docent. Docents are volunteers who dedicate their time to help develop and produce materials and either visit classrooms or lead tours at a museum or zoo to teach people about various birds and animals. Look into any local museums, zoos, and sanctuaries to inquire about opportunities.

If you're unable to find opportunities like the ones suggested above, you could get a realistic plush owl—like those made by Hansa.

Questions & Answers

Question: What species of owls can I own in Ohio?

Answer: Non-native owls, but the typical species is the Eurasian eagle owl.

Question: How old do you have to be to get your licence?

Answer: For a falconry license, the age varies by state. It is usually between 12-16 years old.

Question: Do you have to have a permit to keep an owl as a pet?

Answer: Native owls require falconers permits or various licenses for educational/exhibitor purposes. Non-native owls (Eurasian eagle owls) do not require permits in states where they are legal.

Question: What is the cheapest price to buy a Eurasian eagle owl?

Answer: Owls are expensive and their upkeep is also expensive. They are not good pets if you are looking to save money. Lower-priced animals might be older and harder to manage.

Question: Is it legal to own a Snowy Owl in Snohomish, WA?

Answer: Snowy Owls are native birds. They are only legal with falconry permits.

Question: I found an injured Barred owl and know of our local orginizations or Fish and Wild life. I'm in Kentucky, what do I do?

Answer: You have to find a licensed wildlife rehabber.


John on August 29, 2020:

Can a Little Owl be kept as a pet? and if so, is it legal in the UK?

Chelsey on August 15, 2020:

This was very informative, though i didn't come here because i wanted an owl. I actually had a dream where i found an owl and curiosity sent me to looking.

Great read, and very to the point. 5 stars. Lol

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 06, 2020:

Isabella LeStrange: They aren't legal in the U.S.

Isabella LeStrange on August 04, 2020:

Is it Legal to own a barn owl in VA?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 01, 2020:

Flying Free: What are you talking about? Many older people keep exotic pets, in fact it's mostly naive millennials giving us crap about it.

Flying Free on August 01, 2020:

Idiot millennials, drowning in the

make-believe world of H. Potter! These aren't pets, they're being held hostage. Selfish and thoughtless.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 21, 2020:

KUzpO In most states non-native owls are legal, as it says in the article.

KUzpO on June 24, 2020:

Um hi, I have some question. I've wanted one for ages. Questions: Do you need license to own any owl; Are non-native owls really legal to own

tyler on February 14, 2020:

can you legally own a barn owl in the state of california?!? i really need to know

Ned on October 13, 2019:

I really want to own an owl, it would be sooooo cool

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 20, 2019:

UK Falconry Center: Escapes, abuse, euthanasia...all things that have happened to different types of pets from guinea pigs, to dogs, cats, to exotics. Calling for 'stricter' laws (presumably you mean bans) because of this is not the answer.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 20, 2019:

Raptor Educator: The main thing that isn't making sense here is that if you think no one will be able to obtain an owl without hunting or education aspirations then there is no reason for you and the alleged other falconers posting to be here. That alone makes me believe your claims are disingenuous and I just don't see the point. I'm still committed to providing truthful information on this topic and will work with anyone who can assist but first they must not attempt to deceive me for their own agendas.

It's true that some animals do not belong in captivity but then I want to know why it is OK for falconers and educators, especially the latter. People tell me I shouldn't keep exotic pets ALL the time, why should I see your complaints as any different? I own solitary predators. It sounds to me that either raptors are like other exotic pets or they are so high-maintenance I question if falconers or 'educators' should be able to own them outside of professional oversight. Which is it?

Yes, I get upset that falconers feel only hunters should be able to own these birds. Either these birds are suited for captivity or they aren't. I think I should have just as much of a right to own something as you would to hunt, even if that means I'd have to undergo training and paperwork, this process should NOT be restricted to people who hunt for pleasure. It sounds like if these birds do so badly in captivity maybe hunters should leave them alone too, and use dogs, ferrets, guns, or go to the damn grocery store.

UK Falconry Center on August 20, 2019:

As someone who’s worked with owls and is in the UK. Please, please, please.. understand that the amount of people who went through falconry courses to be able to receive experience with our hopes that they’d have a good start to falconry, completely took advantage of falconry. We offer to teach individuals the necessary material needed for good raptor husbandry with they hoped that they’ll be able to carry on with the sport but, unfortunately some folks finish their course, buy an owl, and never do anything with owl besides hold it. A barn owl here sells for 50€ whereas an Eagle owl maybe 200€ or less. I have seen so many escapees and abuse cases, I really wish there was a way to stop how easily available these birds are. The Harry Potter craze left so many abandoned owls to die. When your the one having to bring a beautiful owl into the vet to be euthanized because some idiot got tired of the owl and tossed it into the wild only to have it’s legs snapped in a trap. You’d understand why we wish our country would make stricter Laws. Our country does not care about the outcome of captive raptors and it’s devastating.

Raptor Educator on August 20, 2019:

You maybe able to find a raptor available but they aren’t going to sell to someone who doesn’t have experience meaning “educational or falconry”. I feel like you’d have a better grasp and understanding for the ethics side of things if you go out with a falconer in the field and or maybe help someone in education. You could make all the points in the world to justify keeping them as pets but we are not the UK or Japan. We want whats best for these animals in the end. The idea that “If I want that animal, I should be able to have it! No exceptions! It’s my dream!” Is not a very good mindset to have in the animal field consider there’s animals that we can absolutely NOT have. I feel like you get irritated when By the mentioning of falconers. Why is that? They may get to own raptors but the amount of legal paper work and exams they put into being able to keep the birds is a lot and they can have them taken away if we don’t comply by regs. For any animal even certain dog breeds that have very high prey drives, it’s unfair to keep them cooped up. We as people treat wildlife as status symbols and possessions when we need to start putting our wants aside and thinking about what’s better for the animal. Will an owl thrive better with an experienced falconer than can help it hunt? Yes, can an experienced raptor educator use an owl as a tool to help educate the public about conservation? Yes, is it fair for an owl to be kept to the same standards of other exotic pets and be made readily available for people who have not a lick of experience to back them up? No, that leads to neglect, improper diet, poor weight management, and poor husbandry. Can you get experience? Definitely! But if your main goal is to get an owl, your not going to find many folks willing to teach you. You refuse to see that various raptor handlers, falconers, ACTUAL people who have worked with these animals for years, are giving you the truthful answer. You keep finding ways to surpass what everyone is saying. If you really think no one is going to go out of the way to buy an owl after reading this, than what was the reason for making the post at all?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 19, 2019:

Owl Handler: This is a fine start and I would be happy to add some of this information to the article if you can give me some links to verify this information, however I am still not convinced that owls cannot be pets because a lot of what you're saying doesn't make sense.

Owls are self-destructive: Other captive birds have this problem in captivity yet you have said owls are harder than macaws.

Hunting: Why is hunting more important to owls/raptors than it is for felids (servals, tigers, sand cats), canids (fox, wolves, hunting dogs), and other captive predators (genets, mink, coati)

Keeping in mind I own two of these listed animals.

Owls are solitary: So are many other captive animals such as genets, small felids, kinkajou, serval, ect. Solitary animals can adapt to life with humans just fine and in some cases even enjoy human interaction.

Oil is bad for feathers: Since you didn't make mention of any special differences from other birds I'm going to assume this is not an issue for a captive bird that won't be hunting.

Don't get an owl unless you are hunting or teaching: How does teaching the public all of the sudden mean an owl is not suffering from captivity? This has to be the most bizarre claim of animal ambassador keepers. These animals don't hunt, so are you claiming this is cruel but a little education validates it? Do your birds suffer if you can't fly them as often as they do in the wild, but according to your human schedule whenever you feel like hunting?

'No need for permit' breeders: I have seen these ads and they appear to be willing to sell to the public, which contradicts the claim that you or someone else made that I won't be able to find a raptor. I feel some of the falconers in these comments are just fibbing because they WISH no one else could get a bird except them. I had someone tell me it's not even legal and cite a Texas law as their source. I don't think spreading incorrect information is the best way to go about persuading people from getting owls.

I honestly don't think you have to worry about an epidemic of people buying giant eagle owls. This article is all about providing truthful information and if you have something to contribute that would be great.

Owl handler on August 19, 2019:

All in all owls aren’t made to be pets and because other countries have laws that allow people to get away with it, the US has a strict mindset on what’s best for raptors. Plus I would not try to make an enemy with falconers. They are lifelines when it comes to raptor emergencies. If they try to explain why something is a poor idea then it’s probably a poor idea. They’re aren’t just hunters either, some are vets, rehabbers, educators, conservationists, breeders, you name it. Falconers have the most knowledge on the health, upkeep, and husbandry of raptors than anyone and their views and advice should be taken seriously. If they say “owls are not pets.” They have the experience to back it up.

Owl Handler on August 19, 2019:

The reason for seeing an over abundance owl always kept as “pets” in the UK is simply due people saying they want to get into falconry, getting the necessary paperwork and required education, and then throwing away the falconry part in order to obtain the owl which isn’t fair to the owl because although these animals remained perched and energy saving, the mental stimulation of hunting helps them live healthier lives because they are doing what they should be naturally doing. Owls and even other raptors in captivity are known to be destructive towards objects and themselves from damaging tail feathers, purposely flying into enclosure barriers, pulling out leg feathers, turning frustrations on keepers, and even becoming overweight and lazy. Most people in the UK feed their birds chicks which isin’t a very nutrient packed diet, raptors require and benefit more from natural quarry than low calorie chicks. Owls also do not like interaction despite the videos you may see, people breed imprints for the purpose of education and falconry so handlers have a somewhat human associated bird to use for demonstrations but people have abused this and try to make them as companion animals. Imprinting alters how the owls see us and giving anyone the chance to own an imprint leads people to believe these birds are naturally cuddly and seek human attention. Another issue is, is that the UK is full of escapee owls due to people who buy these animals as pets, they are far harder than a macaw and people simply toss imprints into the wild to die from starvation or become invasive species. Another thing is although falconers do touch their birds, it’s far less than a pet keeper is going to be touching them. Our oil on our hands are not feather friendly. Also are also slow learners meaning they rely heavily on instinct. That means if an owl grabs you, it will not let go or put two and two together, you WILL have to have someone pry an owl off you and I’ve had it happen. I was crying. Next thing is, coping and making your own anklets! If you don’t know how to do either own your own, owning and owl is probably not best. There may be countries that don’t put the owls best interest at first but in the US we try hard to do what is ethically right for these animals. If they aren’t hunting or being used to teach the public about conservation, then what’s the quality of life for the owl? There’s passionate people who would love to have a pet owl but instead of owning one, they do things to help conserve them like work with them at organizations like I do. Working at a facility is legit like owning one in a sense, you are responsible for their upkeep like husbandry, feeding, weighing, medical work, all that stuff. The moment we start to say “I Want to have” we immediately are throwing aside what’s best for the owls. Unfortunately owning birds of prey is a privilege, reputable breeders will only sell to educational groups and falconers because they know their animal is going into the right hands and will not be treated as a pet. If you see a breeder saying “no need for permits! Not covered under MBTA” the breeder likely only cares about the money vrs the owl and the health quality of the owl sounds pretty iffy from someone who puts money before ethics (many raptors that are sold careless may already have bad temperament or genetic health issues.) if you really really want an owl then become a non profit educator, (it’s actually pretty simple) most breeders are very keep on conservation so I’m sure they’d be willing to sell to those who have prior experience and want to do what’s best for the owls. We have several organizations who have EEOs.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 18, 2019:

Member of US Fish & Wildlife: This article says nothing about it being legal to keep native owls, it very clearly states that is illegal. If someone tells me they got the idea to go eat rocks from this article I'll shrug my shoulders because that information doesn't exist just as much as the idea that it is OK to keep natives doesn't. It has nothing to do with me.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 18, 2019:

Rehabber John: I see nothing in this law that pertains to someone not being able to own an exotic owl. Falconry law doesn't apply to the general public, nor would it prohibit a falconer from obtaining an exotic bird of prey. Furthermore, this law appears to be a state law in Texas. It is not Federal. States can enact their own laws so if raptors aren't legal in TX, that is one thing. Most exotic pets are illegal in certain states. That is completely different.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 18, 2019:

Owl handler: I would love to talk but how can I talk on Instagram? That site is insufferable for discussions. You should write your information here. I'm interested in real information about raptors as pets, not hunting animals. They are freely kept that way in the UK, so what behavioral problems exist and can you provide an example of poor welfare in captivity? Why do their feathers become damaged while this isn't the case with other birds? I've seen falconers petting their birds before. As other birds are kept as pets (some issues do exist with this as well) I would like to know the differences. It sounds like you are coming from the perspective of a hunter over a pet owner, so is it possible that there is some bias present over how they can be maintained?

Rehabber John on August 14, 2019:

You do know under

§65.267. Permit Privileges and Restrictions apprentice falconers can’t own imprints right? exotic owls you see in captivity are imprints meaning that Eurasian eagle owl you may want, you will not be able to legally possess. If an apprentice is unable to have imprint raptors, it also means that a person of the general public will also be unable to obtain one or even a bird of prey in general. These are just how the regulations are. Imprints are available to educational organizations, zoos, and general/master class falconers but that’s it.

Owl handler on August 14, 2019:

Actually this was posted on a falconry forum and it got very heated in there over this so they are likely different individuals. Hopefully I can explain this clearly. The reason most individuals shouldn’t be owning owls is for the fact that they’re highly regulated, you need to know more than just exotic bird care in order handle these birds. The truth is, is that they aren’t pets for a majority of reasons, owls are solitary and do not seek human affection and even petting these owls can damage feathers due to our oils, they’re highly stressed animals that need the experience of a falconer vrs any old average Joe, the weight management for raptors is a lot different to weight management of other animals because a falconry is just a whole different thing altogether. The owls you see in videos are imprints (likely in the UK or japan) where laws are downplayed and many inexperienced people abuse these birds or decide to keep them only to remain their entire life without hunting, struggling with behavioral problems, and bad conditions. Unfortunately it’s harder to explain all of this in one comment but if you’re interested in discussing more I’d be glad to talk. My Instagram is thedirtygauntlet . :)

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 14, 2019:

Exotic Raptor Breeder/Falconer: I suspect these comments are coming from the same person. I've had people pull that crap on me several times, unfortunately Hubpages has taken away my ability to see the IP address of the poster. So I won't waste my time responding to your other comments 'Exotic Raptor Breeder/Falconer-Memver of US Fish & Wildlife-General Falconer.

Tell you what, why not we have ourselves a little bet. If I can't find a seller willing to sell me an exotic owl then I will write a retraction. And if I can, you can stop spreading your BS on this page.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 14, 2019:

Member of the North American Falconry Association: You devoted a small paragraph to telling me 'owls aren't pets' yet you're missing one very important piece of information: WHY?

WHY is it OK for an educator or hunter and not someone who just wants to be around a falcon? What ethics are you talking about? I'm completely willing to listen being inexperienced to this topic.

I am, however, experienced on the topic of exotic pet ownership and the screwy mental gymnastics people display when they arbitrarily decide something can't be a pet.

I really hope that arrogance is not your only reason for your comment. I don't think anyone's 'cultural heritage' is more valid than my own pursuit of happiness. There's this crazy idea that I should have equal rights regardless of your feelings.

Let me know why you think I am not entitled to the same rights as you.

General falconer on August 13, 2019:

I myself have a Eurasian eagle owl but bringing up “finding a sponsor” just to own an owl is absolutely ridiculous. I can tell you first had nobody will take you on as an apprentice if you only want to own an owl because that portrays falconry in a bad light. I’ve hunted and flown several birds and finally wanted an imprint owl. Owning raptors is by no means a right. It is a privilege and it’s why the regulations are very heavy in terms of owning or even working with them. In the end, breeders are not breeding these as pets, they are breeding these birds for falconry and education and it’s vital you understand that.

Member of US Fish & Wildlife on August 13, 2019:

I can tell you off the bat that your information you’re providing is literally fueling the general public into to keep illegal imprints they find either injured or fallen from the nest.. it’s a shame misleading articles like this exist. The people who do get eagle owls either have prior experience or are falconers but, are not kept as pets. I’d recommend talking to falconers and they can explain why these animals are not pets and can further educate you on the dangers of promoting them as such. Have a good day.

Exotic Raptor Breeder/Falconer on August 13, 2019:

As a breeder or exotic owls and a falconer. This is a crock of shit. Obvious the original poster is not aware of what is expected of someone getting into falconry. I’ve bred Snowies, Eagle Owls, Spectacles, Barns, and Scops for over 20 years and I can tell you, breeders like me, and others in the US will not sell to anyone who isn’t a general/master falconer or educator. An apprentice may not own any imprint of any sort, this includes exotic imprints. Also a falconer will not take on a apprentice who’s only in it for a pet owl. Your comprehension is ridiculous.

Member of the North American Falconry Association on August 13, 2019:

Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but experienced raptor handlers, falconers, and even vets pointed out that your article portrays owls as pets. Owls are not pets and yes, you can buy exotic owls, worked with plenty but no breeder will sell you one unless you’re a falconer or educator. Falconers will not take you as an apprentice if your main goal is to get a “pet owl” that’s just a slap in the face to falconers and educators. Your information is clearly incorrect and I’d recommend working along side educators or falconers to better understand ethics because you do not have the knowledge, experience, or mere understanding of laws and ethics surrounding raptor ownership. Threatening to “ban” a cultural heritage sport just because you can’t own an owl as a pet is absolutely childish. There’s some animals that you can’t keep as pets and you need to accept that.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 11, 2019:

Falconer/Raptor Educator: I think you are a joke if you actually believe that hunting is an acceptable freedom for people to have but pet keeping is somehow some degenerate activity. If we lose them as pets I will be the first person pushing legislators to ban falconry. Your comment is reprehensible.

Falconer/Raptor Educator on August 11, 2019:

Very poor poor advice as to make a whole article regarding the keeping of owls as pets. They aren’t pets. No sponsor will take you in if your goal is to own an owl. That makes falconry, falconry apprentices, and sponsors look like jokes. We only have these animals to hunt with them. Please took encourage stupid ideas to the general public about owning exotic owls because the last thing we need is people keeping them as pets.

Lifemanship on August 06, 2019:

AJ, if you want a burrowing owl in your life, move to Pahrump NV. Some people have them living in their yards in the semi-rural areas. Of course you can't steal a fledgling and keep it as a pet, but you could observe them when they emerge from their burrows. You might luck out and get a family of quail, too. Owl fans used to do an annual burrowing owl count. Maybe they still do. The people involved with that might know which properties have resident burrowing owls.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 27, 2019:

Dr. Rob Adamski, I'm disturbed by your message because you are an 'exotic pet veterinarian'. Are your clients aware that you believe that they are 'negligent', 'unethical', and 'reprehensible'? You may 'only' see clients with reptiles, pet birds, traditional pet rodents, ect., but would you like to explain to me the substantial difference between a pet parrot, which has the mind of a toddler, constantly demands attention and enrichment, and can live 15-80 years? Not to mention that these birds are frequently re-homed and have their own issues in captivity. The answer is that YOU CAN'T. Did you read my article? As far as the legal issues go, the article clearly states that all native owls are strictly illegal unless you have a falconer's permit.

So if someone decides to take a wild owl as a pet, how is that my fault? The article also clearly states how difficult it is to care for an owl. Pretty much the only legal owl that you can find in the pet trade without importing new species is a Eurasian eagle owl. Do you think it sounds likely that even 1% of my readers will consider buying a large owl like this, when I clearly state what it takes to own such an animal? And if someone decides they want to build a large enclosure and take on this challenge, more power to them. People like to keep exotic pets and I own many so-called wild animals as well. None of my information is incorrect or 'unethical'.

You're in the wrong field if you're against your clients and I think that is "reprehensible".

Dr. Robert Adamski on May 26, 2019:

As a wildlife veterinarian, it is my professional

opinion, With all due respect, that publishing an article like this is reprehensible. Encouraging members of the public to take a wild animal as a pet not only borders on negligence but raises serious animal welfare and ethical concerns not to mention the myriad of potential legal issues. We deal with the repercussions of beliefs and actions fostered by articles like this on a daily basis when members of the public abandon their “wildlife pets” once they realize they do not make good pets. As an college educated member of society with a background in veterinary medicine you should know better. Shame on you for publishing such an article as this. It is the height of irresponsibility.

Me on May 10, 2019:

I really want an owl!!!!!!!

Brandy on December 17, 2018:

You can love something without being in possession of it.

Angel on October 03, 2018:

Oh my God finally I find good information!!!!

Ayush on May 24, 2018:

Snowy owls rock

Anden on May 09, 2018:

And an English Mastiff can bite with a force of 500psi with it's sharp pointy teeth meant for squeezing the life from human intruders, doesn't stop the general public from owning Mastiff dogs.

Toph on May 08, 2018:

Melissa, the talons of the Eurasian owl are capable of exerting around a very generalized 360 psi of pressure. You probably couldnt squeeze out 100 on a good day. Now combine that with sharp pointy talons meant for squeezing the life from small animals and puncturing vital organs... they're not for the general public.

Kristofer on May 07, 2018:

How much is an owl a little one though because I love owls there so cute

cody on May 04, 2018:

do you have a owl

Ava on March 20, 2018:

Well than how can you become a falconer?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 11, 2018:

Why is using them to hunt or teach so OK but not pet ownership? That's stupid.

Clare on March 09, 2018:

Raptors aren’t pets. Any responsible breeder will never sell a bird to clueless people. No body has any business keeping birds of prey unless you are a falconer or an educator.

bookpaw on February 20, 2018:


anz on January 26, 2018:

I own a northern hawk owl that i rescued from the clutches of a coyote. It was a young bird unable to fly and would have been dinnner for the coyote if i had not stopped this. Anubus the owl lives and travels with my wife and me for the last ten months. Anubus is the best pet we have ever owned and has become the third person in our relationship lol. But seriously we share our house and bedroom with anubus and there is nothing that the two of wouldn't do to keep our bird happy and healthy. Also people should understand that you need to be a self employed person or retired as the bird needs a lot of time spent with it. I would advise against owning one if you cannot provide this. Diet is also expensive. Mice chicken partridge salmon and it all has to be fresh.

savanna on January 13, 2018:

I'm used to thawing dead rodent's and handling bird's and I have outdoor space, so an owl would be ideal.

Heidi on January 06, 2018:

The only Owl that I am interested in is the Sunda Scops Owl.

Carolyn Leigh Brown on December 18, 2017:

The Right kind owl even if it is a toy owl from the wizard if world of Harry Potter

Kaycee on December 07, 2017:

@CS raptors most certainly can be kept as pets, anything is a pet if you own and care for it yourself.

The relationship falconers have with their birds is exceptionally unique, it’s a working relationship... it’s not the same as pet owners for sure. Although, utilizing falconry trainings techniques is a must for owning any bird of prey.

Owning a bird of prey is most certainly not something to be taken lightly. These birds require rigorous care and maintenance to maintain their health.

But, that doesnt make them “not pets”.

CS on November 16, 2017:

I really would never advise anyone to take on the mentality that any species of raptor can be considered a 'pet.' I'm a falconer and I work with exotics as a living. The raptors I work with are not pets, nor are the educational raptors. The relationship one has with a raptor is completely different.

AP on August 02, 2017:

The only owl I want is a burrowing owl, which from what I've seen can be kept in houses, since they live in prairie dog or tortoise burrows and prefer running and hopping to flying. Unfortunately, they're very much a native owl. They are however very common as pets across the pond. This and the federal ban on banded mongooses and meerkats (though I know I hypothetically could have a kusimanse here if I could find one for sale) are probably the two biggest reasons I fantasize about moving to Scotland or Wales.

Kaycee on May 17, 2017:

Owls are very interesting, I'd love to own one someday when I have the money to but both the animal (Eurasian eagle owls are $4,000, like you said, and an enclosure would be $700+) and the owners of them I've talked to say it's around $200 month to feed them.

Thanks for the article!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 14, 2017:

The answers you seek are in the article. It is not a light undertaking.

DawnNyoka on May 13, 2017:

I would love to have an owl for a pet!!! They are just gorgeous!!

How would I go about owning one?

Many thanks,