Can You Own An Owl In California?

Owls are majestic creatures that many people dream of having as pets. But can you legally own an owl in the state of California? The short answer is yes, but with restrictions.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about the rules and regulations around owning an owl in California. We’ll cover the permit requirements, approved species, housing standards, and more. With the right preparations and permits, you can legally own one of these fascinating raptors in California.

California Laws on Owning Owls

California has strict laws in place when it comes to owning owls as pets. These laws are designed to protect both the owls themselves and the native wildlife population. It is important for potential owl owners to be aware of these laws and requirements before considering bringing an owl into their homes.

Native Species Protection

One of the key reasons for the regulations on owning owls in California is to protect the native species. California is home to a variety of owl species, including the iconic Great Horned Owl and the Western Screech Owl.

These owls play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance and biodiversity of the state’s ecosystems.

In order to protect these native species, it is illegal to capture, possess, or sell any native owl species in California without the proper permits. This means that if you come across an injured or orphaned owl, it is important to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who can provide the necessary care and assistance.

Permit Requirements

If you are interested in owning an owl in California, you will need to obtain the appropriate permits. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is responsible for issuing these permits and regulating the ownership of owls.

To obtain a permit, you will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary knowledge and experience to properly care for an owl. This may involve completing a training course, providing documentation of suitable housing and facilities, and demonstrating your ability to provide the proper diet and veterinary care for the owl.

It is important to note that these permits are not easily obtained, and the CDFW carefully evaluates each application to ensure the welfare of the owls. Owning an owl is a significant responsibility, and the permits are in place to ensure that only qualified individuals are able to care for these birds.

Approved Owl Species

Even with the proper permits, not all owl species can be owned in California. The CDFW maintains a list of approved owl species that can be kept as pets. This list includes non-native species such as the Eurasian Eagle Owl and the Barn Owl.

It is important to research and understand the specific needs and requirements of the owl species you are interested in owning. Different owl species have different dietary needs, housing requirements, and behavioral characteristics.

For more information on California’s laws and regulations regarding owning owls, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: It is always recommended to consult with the CDFW or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before considering owning an owl in California.

Housing and Care Standards

Owning an owl in California comes with certain responsibilities, especially when it comes to providing proper housing and care. The following guidelines outline the standards you should meet to ensure the well-being of your owl.

Enclosure Size and Design

The size and design of the enclosure for your owl are crucial factors to consider. Owls need enough space to move around comfortably and stretch their wings. The enclosure should be large enough to accommodate their natural behavior, such as flying short distances and perching.

It should also be secure and predator-proof to prevent any potential harm to your owl.

Proper Diet

Feeding your owl a proper diet is essential for their health and well-being. Owls are carnivorous creatures, and their diet primarily consists of small mammals, birds, and insects. It’s important to provide them with a varied and balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

Consulting with a veterinarian or a professional owl expert can help you determine the best diet plan for your owl.

Regular Veterinary Care

Just like any other pets, owls require regular veterinary care to ensure their overall health. It’s important to find a veterinarian who specializes in avian medicine and has experience with owls. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite prevention are essential to prevent any potential health issues and ensure the longevity of your owl’s life.

Enrichment and Training

Providing enrichment and training opportunities for your owl is crucial for their mental stimulation and overall well-being. Owls are intelligent creatures that require mental and physical exercise. Interactive toys, perches of different heights, and opportunities for flying and hunting can help keep your owl engaged and happy.

Additionally, basic training can help establish a bond between you and your owl, making it easier to handle and care for them.

It’s important to remember that owning an owl is a significant commitment and should not be taken lightly. Owls are wild animals, and their needs are different from those of domesticated pets. Before considering owning an owl, it’s essential to thoroughly research and understand the laws, regulations, and care requirements specific to your area.

Consulting with local wildlife authorities or organizations can provide valuable guidance in this regard.

Purchasing a Pet Owl

Owning an owl as a pet can be an exciting and unique experience. However, before diving into this endeavor, it’s important to consider several factors. This article will provide you with valuable information on purchasing a pet owl in California.

Find a Reputable Breeder or Rescue

When searching for a pet owl, it’s crucial to find a reputable breeder or rescue organization. Owls are wild creatures that require specialized care, so it’s essential to ensure that the owl has been raised in a safe and healthy environment.

Research online for breeders or consider contacting local wildlife rescue centers for information on available owls for adoption.

A great resource for finding reputable owl breeders or rescue organizations is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website. They provide a list of licensed breeders and rescues in the state, ensuring that you are making a responsible and legal choice when purchasing a pet owl.

Cost Considerations

Before purchasing a pet owl, it’s crucial to consider the cost associated with owning one. The initial cost of acquiring an owl can vary depending on the species and the breeder. On average, the price of a pet owl can range from $500 to $5,000.

Additionally, ongoing expenses such as proper housing, food, veterinary care, and permits should be taken into account.

It’s also important to note that owning an owl requires a significant time commitment. Owls are intelligent creatures that need mental stimulation and social interaction. Therefore, it’s essential to dedicate time to train and bond with your pet owl.

Special Equipment Needed

Owls have specific needs when it comes to their living environment. They require a spacious aviary or a large cage with enough room to fly and exercise. The enclosure should also include perches, branches, and hiding spots to mimic their natural habitat.

Additionally, owls need access to clean water for bathing and drinking.

Feeding owls can be a unique challenge as they require a diet consisting mainly of whole prey, such as mice, rats, and other small animals. Owls also need a varied diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian or an experienced owl owner to determine the most appropriate diet for your pet owl.

Lastly, owning an owl in California requires obtaining the proper permits. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulates the ownership of owls and other wildlife species. Before purchasing a pet owl, make sure to check the specific permit requirements and obtain the necessary licenses to ensure compliance with the law.

Owning an owl can be an incredible experience, but it’s important to approach it responsibly. By finding a reputable breeder or rescue, considering the costs involved, and providing the necessary equipment and permits, you can create a safe and suitable environment for your pet owl.

Alternatives to Owning an Owl

Visit a Raptor Center

If you’re fascinated by owls and want to learn more about them, visiting a raptor center is a fantastic alternative to owning one. Raptor centers are dedicated to the rehabilitation and conservation of birds of prey, including owls.

They provide a safe environment for injured or orphaned owls to recover and eventually be released back into the wild. These centers often offer educational programs and opportunities to observe these majestic creatures up close.

Volunteer at a Wildlife Refuge

Another great way to satisfy your owl obsession without owning one is by volunteering at a wildlife refuge. These refuges play a crucial role in protecting and preserving natural habitats for various species, including owls.

As a volunteer, you can contribute to the well-being of these magnificent birds by assisting with their care, monitoring their behavior, and participating in research projects. It’s a rewarding experience that allows you to make a positive impact on owl conservation efforts.

Consider Another Pet Bird Species

Owning an owl may not be feasible or legal in California, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the companionship of a pet bird. There are numerous other bird species that make excellent pets and can provide similar entertainment and companionship.

Popular options include parrots, canaries, and budgies. Each species has its own unique characteristics and care requirements, so be sure to do thorough research before bringing one home. Remember, owning any pet comes with responsibilities, so make sure you are ready to provide the necessary care and attention.


Owning an owl in California can be an incredibly rewarding experience with proper preparations. By following all laws and regulations, providing excellent care and housing, and working with reputable sources, you can legally own one of these amazing birds of prey. Consider all factors carefully before taking on the responsibility of an owl companion.

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