Ravens are creatures who are quite popular in fairytales and urban legends. In some cultures, they are regarded as symbols of bad omens. In mythology, they are known to be messengers for the gods. Regardless of which version of the story they hear, some people have shown enthusiasm and desire to have a pet raven of their own.
Ravens are highly intelligent animals, which makes them appealing as pets for the more adventurous pet owners. However, they are also wild animals that thrive in their natural habitats. They also exhibit behavior which could differ significantly from the behavior of domesticated pets like cats or dogs and their fellow feathered cousins like parakeets.
This is just one of the reasons why ravens do not make good pets. If you need more convincing, we at The Furry Companion have compiled seven reasons why a pet raven is a bad idea.
1. Ravens are considered wild animals.
Wild animals belong in nature for a reason. They are part of a big ecosystem, fulfilling roles that are essential to keep it balanced. Ravens are critical members of the ecosystems they belong to. It is not uncommon anymore to keep wild animals as pets, but it is strictly regulated for various reasons. One primary reason is that wild animals, in general, behave differently from their domestic counterparts.
Ravens, especially those who grew up in the wild, behave according to how they learned to survive in their natural habitat. Sometimes, this behavior can be challenging to manage and understand. At worst, a wild pet raven might frighten small children and startle even most adults. The wild provides the type of environment that ravens need to survive, which is not easily replicated in captivity.
2. Ravens have a nasty bite.
Ravens are physiologically built with their natural diet in mind. Most of the time, ravens are omnivorous, which means they eat both fruits and meat equally. Because of this, their beaks are built to be able to peck at fruit skin and to tear off flesh at the same time.
Thus, raven bites can be quite nasty when provoked. It can even crush smaller bones upon impact. Usually, ravens have no business biting humans. But they can get quite aggressive when prompted, and a warning nip in the finger is highly possible if you’re not careful.
If a raven bites you, it is not impossible to pry their beaks open and escape, but it is also inadvisable. The best course would be to wait it out and let the raven let go on its own. Steer clear away from raven nests because ravens tend to be more aggressive when it comes to their nests.
Be cautious when dealing with ravens and their beaks. As much as possible, wear protective gear when handling your pet raven, especially when they are still new in your care. This pair of Safety Bite-Proof Work Gloves from Amazon is the perfect safety measure against nasty raven bites.
3. Ravens are not suited for solitude.
As highly social creatures, ravens are not satisfied with single living. This means that if you want to get a raven of your own, it’s more appropriate to get pet ravens (as in, plural) than risk the loneliness of one pet raven.
Ravens are creatures who move naturally in packs. Social interaction is a vital part of a raven’s life. Being part of a group means that they have a place in their social order. Taking away a pet raven to live alone can be detrimental to their health. Most ravens live together in pairs and fly together for a long time. At a certain age, they also tend to group with other ravens of similar age.
For ravens who are bred in captivity, it is possible for them never to experience this naturally-occurring phenomenon of group dynamics. However, the inherent instinct of territoriality and the need to mate are still relevant aspects of their lives. If you truly desire to keep a pet raven, you have to be prepared to stretch your budget. You will have to accommodate at least two pet ravens to keep each other company.
4. Ravens need a lot of space.
In terms of living space, ravens are naturally territorial. They hate sharing their space with anyone, both human and animal alike. They tend to become hostile to perceived “intruders” and are wont to attack using their nasty bites. Like other territorial birds, ravens love to fly long distances to survey over their “domain.”
Aside from their natural territorial issues, ravens are large birds who need large areas to fly over. They need enough space to stretch out and exercise their wings, and a small cage will not do. If you are interested in keeping a pet raven, you must invest in a vast space to keep your pet raven from feeling suffocated. You must also be ready to cater to their territorial tendencies, and be prepared to stay away from their domain if you’re unwanted. “Captivity causes stress to the animal and good quality of life for a wild animal in a cage is often impossible to provide,” Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand, DVM points out.
5. Ravens can be quite nosy.
Life with a pet raven can get disorderly. Ravens are highly intelligent creatures, as we’ve mentioned before, and their intelligence often breeds an insatiable amount of curiosity. Pet ravens on the loose often find themselves snooping around, whether inside their owner’s house or even in the trash.
The result of a raven snooping around is often a considerable mess scattered everywhere. They will overturn containers and cups at any height, as long as their attention is piqued and their curiosity unsatisfied. Similar to magpies, ravens are also quick to be attracted by particular items like keys and jewelry. Once they set their sights upon a particularly loved piece, they will try their best to hide it from prying eyes. If you are not too keen on cleaning up after your pet raven, perhaps they are not the best fit for you.
6. Ravens are intelligent—too intelligent.
Ravens are considered as one of the most intelligent birds in existence. In fact, their level of intelligence is up to par with chimpanzees and dolphins, two of the smartest animals out there. In the wild, ravens are known to employ advanced tactical decisions to drive away other predators and intruders in their territories. They are capable of trickery, which is impressive on the one hand but also alarming on the other. According to Susan Orosz, PhD, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Dipl ECZM (Avian), “They are considered the most intelligent of the birds and among the most intelligent of all animals having demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests (European Magpies) and tool making ability (crows, rooks) — skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals.”
These birds have an amazing ability to recognize human faces and associate impressions and feelings toward them. This ability is particularly useful for those who wish to keep pet ravens, but it also has a downside. If negative stimuli are associated with a particular face, ravens are quick to remember and are even capable of holding a grudge. Studies show that this grudge doesn’t just stay with one raven; researchers have determined that ravens also broadcast this “grudge” to other ravens.
Aside from holding grudges, ravens are also capable of being paranoid. In the wild, they pretend to stash their food in one place while hiding the rest of it from other animals. They have visual and aural cues ingrained and learned that signal them when a competitor for food is nearby.
7. Keeping pet ravens need special permits.
As with most wild animals possessed by humans, to keep a pet raven, you need special grants from the government to acquire them legally. If you find an injured raven in nature, you still need to apply for government permits to keep them. While it’s a tedious process at times, the paperwork for acquiring pet ravens is not entirely unjustified.
It is illegal to keep a pet raven primarily because of their transient nature.
Ravens and their bird cousins travel long distances to mate and lay eggs, or to move to warmer areas during the winter. There are existing laws that protect the interests of migratory birds like ravens. Indeed, there will be legal repercussions if you keep a pet raven without the appropriate paperwork and permit on hand.
Aside from protecting the natural order of nature, the legal side of keeping pet ravens is also there to ensure the safety of the general public.
Ravens are by no means small birds. They are one of the most prominent members of the Corvidae family, and their sheer size could be detrimental to some people in residential areas. Unknowing ravens can seriously injure children, and even adults are not entirely safe from minor injuries caused by ravens. “The keeping or rehabilitation of wild birds is regulated at the federal level, and other species are regulated at the state level,” Kristine M. Smith, DVM, Dipl. ACZM and co-authors say.
Applying for a special permit to keep a pet raven is not simple. You will have to prove to the proper authorities that you are capable of taking care of your pet raven. In other cases, proof of your experience in handling birds is also necessary. You will also need to apply for a permit to a nature reserve or a wildlife rehabilitation center for birds to be allowed to house one (or two) in your care.
Despite the reasons listed above, it’s not entirely impossible to acquire a raven and keep them as your pet. If you’re genuinely interested in becoming a pet owner of a raven, there are numerous channels available. As we’ve mentioned, the process of acquiring a pet raven through legal means is long and winding. A lot of permits are needed, and preparations are complicated.
If you’re looking for a quick pet companion with minimal to zero fuss, a pet raven is not the best fit for you. But if you have what it takes to provide and care for a pet raven, it’s up to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you legally own a raven?
It is illegal to own a native raven in the USA. To legally own one, you should get species that are not native and do not migrate to the U.S, an example of which is the white-necked raven that comes from Africa.
How much is a pet raven?
A pet raven can cost around $2,000 to $6,000. Acquiring a raven comes at a great price and so should be well thought of. Apart from that, ravens need specialized care since they are wild animals by nature, which may bear additional expenses.
Are Ravens good pets?
No, they are not good pets. They need a great deal of care and attention, which makes them difficult to keep. Also, they require a good amount of space to fly around because they get bored fast.
Are the Ravens dangerous?
Yes, Ravens are dangerous especially to threats to their safety. Ravens lunge their bills and fly at potential predators. On occasion, humans can get attacked when they are too close to the nest.
Can you befriend a crow?
In general, crows and humans have a healthy relationship. It is possible to befriend crows because they are smart enough to remember humans especially if you feed them on a regular basis.
Can Ravens be tamed?
Ravens that were born in captivity are docile especially towards their caregivers. They are still wild animals by nature so it’s important to still take precautions when dealing with them.
Can I buy a crow?
It is illegal in the US to keep crows as a pet because they are considered as a pest. If authorities find out that you are keeping crow as a pet, it is most likely to be confiscated and killed and you will be penalized as well.
How long do pet ravens live?
Ravens can live up to 21 years in their natural habitat. In captivity where they are safe from predators, they can live twice as long.
Patricia is a bonafide lover of both cats and dogs. She’s a proud fur mom to three hyperactive but sweet dogs. In addition to her loving dogs, she wants to have a cat (or three) in the near future. She’s a fresh graduate from university and is currently working as a freelance writer. In her spare time, Patricia relaxes by making creative spreads in her art journal or by drinking tea and reading a book.