What do owls eat?
Owls are not ordinary pets, and not everyone owns an owl. Therefore, when you ask someone if I own an owl, what would it eat? Probably the other person won’t know too. So, to help out all owl lovers, we have designed this article. What do owls eat? Where to find their food? What diet will jeep their plumage and bills healthy? All your questions will be covered in the information given below.
Owls food & hunting
What do owls eat? The odd question, right? But yes! Many people love to have them as pets, and therefore they have sorted out what will be their best diet. In their natural environment, owls are predators and not prey. This phenomenon explains that owls have that instinct to kill and then eat. Their menu majorly includes the small mammals(Not larger than their size), invertebrates; lizards, insects, snails, spiders, crabs, worms, some reptiles; snakes, a few species of amphibians and turtles too.
However, the species of the owl plays a significant role in determining their diet. Insects make up most of the diet of Screech and Scop owls; on the other hand, Barn owl relies on small rodents like mice, voles, and shrews for their food. The larger species of owl cannot nurture appropriately on a diet that consists of snails and insects; therefore, they have to eat large animals like birds, rabbits, hares, foxes, and even ducks.
Owls are incredibly adaptive animals, and they can easily mold in the environment in which they live. For example, African and Asian fish owls are experts in capturing and feeding upon fish. Owls are not picky eaters, and they literally will munch upon anything, as they are predators, so owls do not miss the opportunity and like to eat whatever they find. However, some species may have some food preferences.
How do owls capture their prey?
Owls have a lot of gifted, and mesmerizing weapons that make them excellent predators. Owls have brilliant eyesight that enables them to see even in low and dim lights. Some owls are also able to detect anything, even in the total dark, and they do this by just using their sense of hearing. Their sense of hearing is quite strong and provides them with a direction which aids them in finding the camouflaged prey. In addition to these qualities, an owl can silence its flight because they have specialized wings that can reduce the voice of air flowing over their wings. In this way, they can catch their prey without even alarming them. Not only this, but this quality also helps them to detect and listen to the victim even when they are in flight mode.
Most of the species of owls fly from perch to perch to locate their prey and then they simply jump upon them. Owls capture their prey by jumping upon them and opening their wings at the last moment. In this way, the victim couldn’t even sense them.
While other species fly over on the land pieces for scanning and locating the prey, when they find their prey, they will keep on flying over it until they get that golden moment to capture them. They do this by finishing their stream-lined motion and pushing their talons forward to catch the prey.
However, every owl has its style of capturing the prey, and they also use different techniques for different types of prey. The owls that prefer fish to eat may glide over the water, or they may dip through it to capture the fish. Some species of owls also dive in the water to grab water snakes, and frogs, etc.
Once the prey is in their grab, it is hard to getaway. Owls eat away smaller prey immediately, while the larger ones are carried through the talons. Some of the owls may protect their leftover food in order to save it from other predators, and the process is called “mantling”.
When there is spring, there are a lot of opportunities and options for owls to capture the prey. Therefore in such loaded conditions, the owls save their prey in their cache. The caches can be their nest, tree hole, and a branch etc. At the places where the temperature becomes very low, the stored prey can become frozen, and the owls cannot eat it in that way, therefore to make it edible the owls have to sit on them so that they can feed their food.
Feeding barn owls
What do owls eat? In their natural environment, the barn owls mainly feed on small mammals like rats, voles, shrews, etc. usually they do not pierce their prey and eat them as a whole. It is way better to provide them small but whole prey rather than giving them small chunks of meat of larger animals. Gooey insects like snugs and snails are not preferable; however, little birds and frogs are much better.
Almost all the things that a cat loves to eat are appropriate for owls as well. However, you have to keep in mind that there should be no chemicals, pesticides, and fungicides used on the prey.
Common food to buy for owls:
Usually, the food of owls is dead cockerels. Cockerels are a side product of the poultry industry. They are an excellent option as they are less expensive, low in fats, contain high protein, and provide your owls with all the necessary vitamins which their bodies cannot make automatically.
Dulls which are also called dead chicks can also be given to your pet owl. However, in urban areas, it may be challenging to find an incubator that contains such an abundant amount of dulls. You have to make sure that chicks are stored in Carbon dioxide and not in chloroform or carbon tetrachloride. Moreover, do not over freeze chicks in your home refrigerator because prolonged freezing can result in bacterial growth.
Rodents like rats, mice, and squirrels are best to give to your owls, and they contain the maximum nutrients. It is preferable to provide small to medium-sized rats to your owls. They are also called “weaners.” Mice that you usually catch up in your homes also contain similar nutritional value, but buying mice can cost you a lot of bucks, buying mice will cost you ten times more than buying dulls.
If you are giving your owl, daily chicks in their daily routine with some yummy treats of mice and treats, then your owl won’t need anything else. However, if any of the above things are not available, you should use supplement SF 50, Adexolin and Vionate, these are readily available on the pet shops. Little amounts of supplements are enough for your owl, and excessive doses can harm your owl.
What should be avoided?
Following are the things that you should avoid from giving to your pet owl:
- It would be best if you were very careful while providing your owl with a wild rat because wild rats can carry leptospirosis, and it can get transferred to humans as well.
- Avoid giving pigeons, as they are carriers of a lot of bird diseases
- Hares or rabbits should not be given to the rabbits because they are too big and even if they are chopped there are fair chances of the presence of bone fragments. These fragments can choke up the owl and may prove fatal for them.
- A hunted bird that is killed by a gun should not be given to the owl, and they can cause lead poisoning in owls and any bird.
- Over frozen food, food that is stored for more than three months in your refrigerator should be avoided because Vitamin E levels can drop in them.
What do owls eat in winter at night?
You may be thinking that most of the animals hibernate in colder weather, then how these owls find food? Well, several animal options are available for them.
Several animals like rodents, rabbits, possums, skunks do not hibernate, and also the other animals which are of similar size. Additionally, they are also nocturnal like owls, and they love to forage at night. We just don’t know how many of them are there because we do not notice them being diurnal. However, unlike humans, owls have amazing eyes to see in the dark, and fantastic hearing capabilities which enable them to capture the prey with ease.
Do owls eat fruit?
Owls are pure carnivores. They only rely on animal protein to survive. They cannot thrive on plants or any other fruit stuff. Their primary diet includes small mammals, rodents like rats, mice, squirrels, fishes, and birds.
Do owls eat rabbits?
What do owls eat? Owls mainly munch upon small mammals like mice and rats. In the wild, they may eat hare or rabbit too, but in captivity, it is risky to give them rabbits because they are enormous and even if you cut them into small pieces, maybe a tiny bone chunk can get stuck in their throat, and they can even die due to choking. Therefore it is not advisable to give them rabbits or hares.
What do owls eat in the desert?
Desert owl, also known as Tawny owl. The desert owls inhabit countries like Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and some Arab countries.
Desert owls are not too large and are medium in size with no ears. Desert owls are majorly nocturnal with yellow eyes, and therefore their diet mainly consists of insects, mice, and voles.
What do baby owls eat?
Baby owls can eat anything that consists of meat like mammals, small birds, snakes, worms, etc. Depending on the species of owls, they may show some diet preferences, as some of them like to have fish while others want to have frogs and crabs.
Do owls eat birds?
Yes! Owls can eat birds as they are carnivores. However, small species do not tend to eat large birds as they can choke on them. The question arises whether owls eat birds or not mainly depends on the species of the bird. For example, owls like a screech owl, and scops primarily rely on insects, on the other hand, the large owls like eagle owls prefer to eat large mammals like hares, and birds, etc. So What do owls eat?
What do owls eat in Australia?
Australian owls like other owls eat mainly small or medium to small-sized mammals, birds, and most reptiles and insects. However, sooty owl species prefer mammals that live on trees, whereas others like to eat land-animals.
Do owls eat cats?
Probably! Larger owl species may eat a mammal equal to the size of a duck. On the other hand, small-sized owls cannot eat cats as they are too large for them. However, they may eat small sized kittens.
What I can feed and owl?
Owls are carnivores; therefore, their diet also consists of meat only. Their food ranges from small insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and even large mammals that can be of the size of a duck.
How do owls eat their prey?
All birds don’t have mandibles or jaws to chew their food items. Therefore they have to eat their food as a whole/ swallow it. Small prey is eaten immediately as a whole. On the other hand, they eat small-sized prey in chunks, and then they consume these chunks.