Barnaby Owl

Barn Owl

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Other

Gender: Male



Friendly with owner


Friendly with family






Song-vocal quality


Mimics sounds-words




Easy to feed


Easy to clean and maintain habitat


Barn owls


0216, South Africa

Posted Apr 27, 2015

I am not entirely convinced owls make good pets, or even if one should attemt to tame it, but all things considered, I regard Barnaby, a barn owl, to be a pet of sorts.

I am not even sure how I got him- at least, I never consciously thought about getting an owl, and if truth be told, in South Africa it is illegal to keep them. However, about two years ago we suffered from a major rat infestation of my area, and Barnaby must have heard about it, because one day he just arrived, and took up residence in Sarah, the donkey queen's barn.

I am certain however, that Barnaby did not eradicate the rat plague by himself, but he has never left my property for more than a few days at a time; not even during winter, when there is a general scarcity of rats and mice. Perhaps the fact that I set up a white mouse breeding operation (for his sole benefit) during the first winter of his occupancy may have something to do with this, but somehow I do not think so. In fact, I do not think he needs me or my mice, since I very seldom see white fur in the balls he regurgitates. Whatever the truth of him needing me or not happens to be, I enjoy his company, which is always dignified, and totally devoid of the silliness and frivolity the chickens display when I try to have a conversation with them.

Neither of us have tried to approach the other, and we both prefer to keep our distance, lest we each think less of the other. Speaking for myself, I like to think that I take care of him, even if only in the smallest degree, but I am not certain Barnaby sees it that way. There is something about him that makes me feel silly in his presence, but being the wise bird that he is, I am also sure he is too refined to publicly disabuse me of the notion that I could possibly be of any use to him.

Thus, owls as pets? I do not think it is possible, and based on my observations of, and experience with Barnaby, I am convinced that being kept would be demeaning to the owl. Frankly, I find the idea of keeping owls as pets ill-considered, and I strongly disapprove of the notion.

However, for those with the inclination, or abilty to try and fathom the depths of an owl's soul, I would suggest spending some time at rehabilition centres for owls and other birds of prey first, before deciding one way or the other. Whatever you decide though, make the right decision for both yourself and the bird.

Image credit: JennyKS

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