Crows and Ravens as Pets: Do They Make Good Pets?

Crows and ravens as pets

Crows and ravens make intriguing pets for bird enthusiasts, but owning one comes with unique considerations. As intelligent creatures, understanding the dynamics of keeping crows and ravens as pets is essential.

Classified as migratory birds native to the United States, these birds are protected by the law, making it illegal to buy a pet raven or crow without proper permits. 

In this article, we will delve into everything you need to know about keeping crows and ravens as pets, from their taming potential to the legalities and alternatives to consider.

Can Crows and Ravens Be Pets?

Child feeding a crow

Owning ravens and crows is not like having a typical pet. The American crow and the common raven are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which means you need special permits to keep them as pets.

The process of obtaining these permits can be quite complex, involving a demonstration of your ability to provide proper care and a suitable living environment for the bird. 

Moreover, ravens and crows require significant attention and mental stimulation, as they are highly intelligent and can get bored easily.

Building a bond with a raven or crow takes time and patience. Hand-raising them from a young age can increase the chances of forming a strong connection. 

These birds can learn to mimic speech and perform simple tasks, but they are not like domesticated pets like dogs or cats and can display unpredictable behaviors.

10 Reasons Why Crows and Ravens Don’t Make Good Pets

There are essential cons to know before considering crows or ravens as pets. Considered exotic pets, they have unique needs that make them challenging to keep in captivity. 

Let’s explore the reasons why ravens do not make good pets to understand the responsibilities and potential difficulties involved in owning them.

1. Ravens and Crows Are Wild Birds

Two ravens perched on a branch

Unlike domesticated animals, crows and ravens are wild animals. They have evolved to live and thrive in their natural environment, where they can fly freely, interact with other birds, and find food to survive.

Captivity restricts their natural behaviors and instincts, leading to stress, frustration, and behavioral issues.

2. Intelligence and Boredom

Crow side view

Crows and ravens are intelligent creatures that require mental stimulation. Their intelligence is often compared to apes and dolphins in problem-solving abilities.

In captivity, without proper enrichment, they can get bored very easily, leading to destructive behaviors. 

This boredom can manifest in various ways, such as feather plucking, self-harm, or engaging in destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or tearing apart toys.

3. Legal Restrictions

Three ravens on an open field

The Migratory Bird Act protects ravens and crows, making it illegal to keep them as pets without special permits. Keeping one illegally will incur fines and imprisonment.

Obtaining a permit is not only time-consuming but also requires a demonstrated ability to provide appropriate care for these complex creatures.

4. Lifespan and Commitment

Crow eating chocolate

Both ravens and crows can live up to 30 years in captivity. Owning one is a long-term commitment that requires significant time, effort, and resources for their care and well-being.

Many people may need to fully understand the dedication needed to care for these birds throughout their lives, resulting in neglect or abandonment when the novelty wears off.

5. Attention and Care

Raven approaching a human

Ravens require constant attention and care due to their complex needs. This can be demanding for most people, especially those without experience in bird care.

Proper care includes providing a varied and nutritious diet, maintaining a clean and spacious enclosure, and engaging in mental and physical enrichment.

6. Cage Size and Space

Raven perched on human hand

Ravens are large birds, even larger than crows, so they need ample space to fly and exercise. Providing an appropriate cage and space for them can be challenging, especially in a typical household.

Standard bird cages are insufficient; they require aviaries or large outdoor enclosures that can mimic the natural environment and offer enough room for flying and exploration.

7. Dietary Requirements

Crow being given food

Maintaining a proper diet for ravens and crows can be tricky. Their dietary needs can include various foods, and their nutritional requirements must be met to ensure their health.

They are omnivorous and require a diverse diet that includes various foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, insects, and meat.

8. Social Interaction

Raven bonding with someone

Ravens are social animals, often living in family groups and forming strong bonds with other members of their flock. Keeping one as a pet deprives them of natural social interactions, leading to stress and loneliness.

9. Aggressive Behavior

Raven while eating

As wild birds, ravens and crows may exhibit aggressive behaviors towards humans or other pets, particularly during breeding season or when they feel threatened. 

This makes them unsuitable for households with children or other animals.

10. Species Conservation

Group of crows in a nest

Capturing and keeping ravens or any wild birds as pets can contribute to the decline of their populations in the wild. Many species of ravens are already facing habitat loss and other threats. 

Removing them from their natural habitat can disrupt the ecological balance and hinder conservation efforts.

While the idea of owning a pet raven or pet crow may seem intriguing to a bird enthusiast, the reality is that these birds are best appreciated in their natural habitat. 

Their unique qualities and behaviors are best observed through bird watching, allowing them to thrive in the wild and contribute to the natural environment.

What Is It Like to Have Raven as a Pet?

Owning a raven as a pet can be an extraordinary experience for bird enthusiasts seeking an intelligent and interactive companion. 

Ravens are highly intelligent creatures and are often compared to parrots in their ability to mimic human speech and display problem-solving skills. However, before considering a raven as a pet, there are essential factors to understand.

One of the key aspects to consider is the age of the raven. Raising a young raven from an early age can help in developing a strong bond and trust between the bird and its owner. 

An adult raven, on the other hand, may come with pre-existing behaviors and may take longer to adapt to a new environment.

Ravens are incredibly curious creatures, and their inquisitive nature can make them fascinating companions. They enjoy exploring their surroundings, solving puzzles, and engaging in mentally stimulating games.

Like any pet, a raven requires time, effort, and dedication. Daily interaction and mental stimulation are essential for their well-being. 

Socializing them and providing opportunities for flight can contribute to their overall happiness.

While pet crows and ravens can be great pets for the right owners, it’s crucial to understand the level of commitment and attention needed to care for these highly intelligent birds properly. 

Owning a raven can be a rewarding experience, but it is essential to be prepared for the responsibilities and challenges that come with having such an extraordinary bird as a companion.

Is It Legal to Own a Crow or Raven?

Crow side profile

If you want to get a pet raven or crow, it’s essential to understand the legalities involved. 

In the United States, these birds fall under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act since they are birds native to the United States. This means that without a permit, it’s illegal to keep them as pets.

The MBTA was enacted to protect migratory birds, preventing their capture, sale, or possession without proper authorization. Owning a pet raven or crow without a permit is considered a violation of this federal law.

While there may be exceptions for licensed wildlife rehabilitators and those with breeder permits, for the general public, keeping a pet raven or crow is not legally permissible. 

It’s essential to respect these birds’ protected status and appreciate them in their natural habitat.

How to Get a Permit to Own a Crow or a Raven

If you want a pet raven or a crow, you’ll need to obtain a permit to do so legally. These birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and owning them without a permit is illegal. 

Here’s how you can proceed with the process:

  • Research Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations concerning pet ravens or pet crows in your region. The permit requirements may vary depending on your location.
  • Contact Authorities: Reach out to the relevant wildlife or conservation authorities to inquire about the permit application process. They will provide you with the necessary information and forms.
  • Application Process: Complete the permit application accurately and provide any required documentation, such as proof of experience with birds or your intent to house the bird properly.
  • Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators: In some cases, licensed wildlife rehabilitators may be eligible for permits to keep these birds for educational or rehabilitation purposes. If you are not eligible, consider supporting reputable wildlife centers instead.
  • Wait for Approval: Once you’ve submitted your application, patiently wait for approval. The process may take time, so plan accordingly.

Remember, keeping a raven or crow as a pet is a significant responsibility, and ensuring you have the proper permits is crucial to avoid legal consequences and protect these magnificent birds.

Can You Tame a Raven or Crow?

Crow being tamed through food

Crows and ravens are wild birds, and while they can develop bonds with humans, taming them is not the same as domesticating a pet bird. Building a relationship with a raven or crow requires time, patience, and trust.

Both pet crows and ravens need the right environment and proper care to thrive in captivity. 

Socializing them from a young age can enhance the possibility of forming a bond, but they will retain their natural instincts and behaviors.

Attempting to tame them should be approached with respect and understanding of their unique needs and characteristics.

As an avid bird enthusiast, I embarked on an extraordinary journey of taming a white-necked raven, which I named Buck. With patience and dedication, I formed a unique bond with this intelligent creature. 

Buck’s inquisitive nature and remarkable problem-solving skills amazed me. Despite the challenges, the experience of having a white-necked raven as a pet was truly rewarding, fostering a deep appreciation for these birds.

Meanwhile, here is a video to help you tame a wild crow:

Taming A Wild Crow

Do Crows or Ravens Remember You?

Ravens and crows are remarkably intelligent birds, and their ability to recognize and remember individuals is well-documented. 

If you’ve had positive interactions with a curious raven or friendly crow, there’s a good chance they will remember you. Building trust and forming bonds with these birds can leave a lasting impression on them. 

Going back to my experience with Buck, He can recall human faces and associate them with positive experiences, showing signs of recognition even after extended periods.

One such association is his reaction whenever I feed him. Whenever I entered his enclosure, he would talk and utter, “I’m hungry!” which is an indication of him remembering me as the one who gives him food.

Keep in mind that each bird is unique, and their ability to remember may vary. Respect their wild nature and avoid imposing yourself on them. 

Instead, let the relationship develop naturally, and you may find that ravens like these interactions as much as you do.

Alternatives to Crows and Ravens as Pets

Cockatiel on a cage

If you’re interested in having a pet bird, there are wonderful alternatives to crows and ravens that can make delightful companions. Consider these options:

  • Budgerigars (Budgies): Budgies are small and colorful parakeets that are popular pets known for their charming personalities and ability to learn tricks and mimic sounds.
  • Cockatiels: Playful and affectionate, cockatiels are known for their whistles and entertaining antics, making them wonderful additions to your home.
  • African Grey Parrots: Renowned for their exceptional intelligence and talking abilities, African Grey parrots can form deep bonds with their human families.
  • Lovebirds: Lovebirds are small, social birds that thrive on interaction and can create strong bonds with their owners, often displaying affectionate behavior.
  • Canaries: Known for their melodious songs, canaries are low-maintenance and visually appealing pets, bringing joy to any household.

When choosing a pet bird, consider factors such as its size, personality, and care requirements. 

Providing a suitable environment and spending time with your feathered friend can lead to a rewarding and enriching pet ownership experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Crow making noise

Do Crows Make Good Pets?

Crows are highly intelligent and social birds, but they don’t make good pets for most people. 

Their wild nature, legal restrictions, and specific care needs make them challenging to keep in captivity. They are best appreciated from a distance in their natural habitat.

Do Ravens Make Good Pets?

Ravens are incredibly intelligent and curious creatures, which can be captivating to bird enthusiasts. However, owning one as a pet is not recommended for the general public. 

Ravens are wild birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, making it illegal to buy or keep them without proper permits.

Is a Pet Raven Dangerous?

Ravens can exhibit aggressive behaviors, especially when they feel threatened. Their strong beaks and talons can cause harm. 

While they can form bonds with humans, it’s essential to respect their wild instincts and provide them with proper care and respect.

Can You Have a Pet Raven in Illinois?

Owning a pet raven in Illinois requires special permits due to their protected status under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It’s illegal to get a pet crow or raven without proper authorization.

Can You Have a Pet Raven in Texas?

In Texas, owning a pet raven also requires special permits because of their protected status. Without appropriate permits, it is illegal to buy or keep a pet raven.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences about crows and ravens in the comment section below. Your insights might inspire others on their own birdkeeping journey!

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