Do Crows and Ravens Make Good Pets?

By Cuteness Team

Horror movies often portray them as sinister messengers of doom, but in reality, crows and ravens are extremely intelligent birds with no inclination towards evil. But, would these birds make good pets? The first thing you should understand is crows and ravens are wild animals and should not be expected to act like cats, dogs, and other animals that humans have domesticated for generations. This means that properly caring for a crow or raven will, no doubt, be very challenging — especially for the uninitiated.

Raven
The raven is one of the smartest creatures in the world, and their care is extremely difficult.
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Comparing Corvids

Common raven (Corvus corax).
A common raven.
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The scientific name for the crow family is Corvidae — and birds of this type are commonly referred to as "corvids," according to Live Science. Behavior-wise, there is not that much of a difference between a crow and a raven. Physically though, the differences add up. Ravens are much larger than crows with a four foot wingspan and a 25" height (a crow's height is about 18"). Ravens also differ in tail and feather shape, and have a heavier bill as compared to the sleek bill of the crow. A notable difference is the manner in which each bird flies. Ravens love to soar and glide and show off with their aerial aerobatics while crows will never be seen doing dives and somersaults in the air!

Grabbing Food on the Road...Literally

Side view of a young crow isolated on white
A young crow.
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Corvids are omnivorous birds that eat both meat and vegetation. Some people prepare them meals made from dog food but, believe it or not, a good source of food for a corvid is fresh roadkill because they can actually rend the meat like they would in the wild! In captivity, crows and ravens should have their meals duplicated to closely represent what they'd eat in their natural habitat, if possible. The key here is variety. Corvids will eat practically anything, including bugs, crabs, snails, fruit and even human foods like spaghetti, bread and more, according to Bird Eden.

Permit Required

American Crow
American Crow
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Federal law proclaims it is illegal to keep a crow (or raven) in captivity without a special permit. Keeping a crow, even a rescued baby crow, for any length of time is against federal regulations. If federal authorities are made aware of you keeping a crow as a pet without a permit, the bird could be confiscated and you could be fined. If you find an injured bird, you should call an animal shelter or sanctuary immediately so the bird can receive the best possible care.

The Care of Corvids

Raven in the Tower of London, UK
Raven
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Ravens and crows are extremely intelligent animals and are very difficult to care for, so the decision to care for a corvid should never be made in haste or for the wrong reasons. If you are fascinated by these intelligent birds, you can admire the ones living in your city or if you'd like to have experience helping these birds, you can research opportunities near you to work with corvids.

Volunteer With an Expert

Common Raven on a rock ledge
A raven or a crow should not be kept as a personal pet without proper training and a permit; if you are interested in helping these wild birds, you can learn more from an expert.
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Still interested in taking in a crow? If so, first try looking into volunteering at a bird rehab society like shelters, sanctuaries and aviaries where orphaned and injured birds are taken. At these places, if they are willing to share their expertise and you are able to volunteer, you could learn from proper corvid care from experts. In this way, when people bring the injured birds to these shelters, you'll learn firsthand without actually taking sole responsibility. Best Friends and Animal Help now are examples of resources that actively help injured animals, including corvids. Being a volunteer will expose you to a variety of birds and the more you learn the better you'll be able to understand how to address the needs of various types of our winged friends.

Forget The Cage

Beautiful Raven [Corvus Corax] in flight over scrubland
Ravens are majestic and intelligent creatures, and you can learn more about them at bird sanctuaries.
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Crows and ravens should NOT be confined to cages like a macaw or other parrot. Parrots use their beaks to climb and get around in a cage but a corvid needs room to hop and fly. If you intend to keep a corvid, it is best to construct an outdoor aviary that is secure and safe for your bird. A caged bird is a bored bird — and corvids absolutely require proper mental stimulation. You may consider clipping their wings to inhibit flight but this isn't a good idea because this action will handicap your bird considerably!

Lifespan

carrion crow (Corvus corone)
Carrion crow
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Corvids can live ten to fifteen years, but their lifespans have been known to double when properly cared for in captivity.