Ravens are fascinating creatures. They have a mystical quality about them that can seem otherworldly, which is why they’ve been the subject of so many myths and legends over the years.
Ravens are highly intelligent, and if you have the chance to train one properly, they can be an absolutely amazing pet. They’re a good choice for people who want a bird but don’t want another parrot or macaw, since these birds are really best suited to life in captivity if you keep them indoors and give them lots of toys and human interaction.
But…there’s a butt. You can’t “officially” have a raven as a pet, as it’s illegal without a permit. The lines are very blurry, though. As long as you aren’t sticking a raven in a cage, is it really your pet? Or just a friend who visits you often?
Or you can just get a permit and have a raven as an actual pet. It’s going to take a while to train one, though.
In this article, we are going to see how you can have a raven as a pet, and how to train one, so it becomes your best friend.
Ravens as Pets: The Good and the Bad
Keeping a raven as a pet is not in any way easy. You cannot just grab one out of the wild, put it in a cage and expect to be friends with it for life. It will not happen.
You have two options here: you can either buy an already-trained raven from someone else. Or raise your own baby raven until he or she is ready for training.
The first option is easier and requires less time invested on your part. However, it can cost you a significant amount of money to get the bird. Anywhere from several hundred dollars up into the thousands, depending on what kind of training it has received.
But…there’s also another downside here: if you are purchasing a trained raven, there’s no guarantee that the bird will be good with you. And you still need a license to keep it.
Ravens are not like parrots or other pet birds, — they rarely bond to humans right away and treat their owners as part of the flock. If this were a songbird, it would sing for its owner starting one day one. But if you buy a raven, it’s going to take months of bonding before you can even touch the bird without him or her flying away.
It might never come back and that is why people get so frustrated with them. They’re expecting their new pet to be like what you see in movies or on TV shows where trained birds will sit on their owner’s shoulder and do tricks.
Ravens are not like dogs or cats where you can simply put an item of clothing on your body and they will understand it’s just something fun for experimenting with: if you want a raven, put in the work.
Make sure that you will do this before getting a raven—don’t think one day that your bird is going to sit on your shoulder while riding around on your bicycle like all those movies shows. It doesn’t work like that.
But if you are up for the challenge and want to own an incredibly intelligent pet with a huge personality, then ravens can be perfect! They’re not as common as other pets either, so they truly stand out from all the rest—especially because their intelligence is almost unmatched by any other bird species.
What You Need to Know about Ravens
Okay, so now that you know whether it’s a good idea to have a raven as your pet…you need to know what requirements and responsibilities come with owning one.
Make sure that, if you are getting one as an adult (and thus already fully grown), that you have the time needed to spend bonding with it every single day. It will require more work if you want to get it to behave well around humans.
This is especially true for baby ravens, who are much more likely to bond with their owners and become great pets. If they don’t have the training that a fully-grown bird would have had prior, then expect them to take some significant time before accepting your presence.
If you want a raven as a pet, don’t just grab the first baby one that you see out at your local bird store. Do some research about them first and even talk to someone who has experience with owning these birds — otherwise it’s going to be really difficult for both of you if this is your first time with owning a raven.
So, what are the requirements of having one as your pet? Here’s an extremely quick list:
- Ravens need to be kept in large cages with lots of room for perching and flying around.
- Provide fresh water at least once every day — if not twice! (or three times if you live somewhere super-hot.
- They will require fresh food daily as well. This means their cages have to be cleaned every single day so that they don’t contract any diseases or become ill.
- Ravens are incredibly intelligent and need lots of enrichment activities throughout the day in order for them not to get bored. If they’re bored, they’re going to get into trouble.
- If you have other pets in your household, it’s important that the raven is introduced slowly and carefully so as not to scare or harm them.
- Ravens are very loud birds, so if you live in an apartment building…you’ll probably want something else for a pet.
- Ravens are incredibly strong, so if you want one, get ready to spend a lot of time training them how to behave around humans. They’re not like dogs who will be friendly with everyone they meet. Ravens can become very territorial and protective of their owners (especially adult birds) making sure that nobody else gets too close.
- Ravens are incredibly difficult to train, and you’ll probably find that by the time they’re fully trained, it’s about time for them to move on out of your home. They can be hard pets to handle, but if you want a challenge, then this is definitely one.
- Ravens don’t enjoy living alone. They will bond with one owner and only that person, so if you have to leave them alone for a long time, it’s going to be difficult because they’re likely going to get into trouble.
Editor’s note: Ravens can live up into their 40s (ONLY when captive, wild ravens usually live up to 15 years) which is pretty impressive for any bird species, really.
Training a Raven: 3 Steps
Now, let’s speak about the actual training process.
Raven training is a slow process that takes months to get through. The result can be absolutely amazing if you’re willing to put in the time and effort required. The bird will learn how to follow your commands and become loyal. They’ll even start showing affection back towards you like any other pet would.
There are some downsides to training them too, especially for getting the bird itself. Training requires a lot of time and patience on your part as you have to work with the raven every day so he or she can learn how to trust you and what behaviors will earn him or her treats.
This is such a laborious process that some people give up and abandon their raven—only to have the bird fly back towards them days later, angry and upset.
There are several steps involved in this training, so make sure you read carefully and take everything one step at a time, as it is crucial that your raven understands what each command means before moving on to more difficult ones.
Step One: Associate Desired Behavior with Food
The easiest way to get your raven’s attention is by offering food as a treat. This means that if he or she does not do what you want, then there will be no reward—and this is something they understand right away.
For example, if you are trying to teach him how to land on your arm and he doesn’t do it, then there will be no food reward.
This is a very simple process where you hide the treat somewhere on your body that only your raven can see—such as in one of your pockets or inside of a backpack that you’re wearing. Then all you have to do is wait for him or her to land on your arm.
If they do not land, then you need to go back one step and ask them to simply perch somewhere — usually the top of their cage or a nearby table will work fine for this task.
Step Two: Perching on Your Arm
Now that your raven knows how to find treats by landing on an object, it’s time to move on and teach them how to perch onto your arm in a more permanent way.
Start by putting the treat under one of your fingers, then ask him or her to land—if they don’t do this for you, then go back all the way to step one where they were simply required to sit on some object and wait for a treat.
Once they are sitting on your hand, then ask them to perch onto the same spot where you’ve been hiding treats. This is usually one’s wrist or forearm area. Do not expect them to understand right away that they require it of them to stay there. They won’t be able to grasp what that means.
So what you’ll need to do is try to perch your arm gently against a nearby wall or table, then hold it there for several seconds — if they stay on top of your hand without flying away somewhere else, then allow them to take the treat from underneath one’s finger as this will be a sign that they followed your command.
Step Three: Heel Training and Maintaining the Perch Position
Now that your raven knows how to perch on top of your arm, it’s time to teach him or her a new behavior — one where they actually walk alongside you as if they were another pet dog! This will be difficult for them to understand at first, so be prepared to spend some time working on this in order for them to grasp what they are supposed to do.
You’ll need the same treats as before and your raven should know how it is required of him or her to perch onto one’s arm. If not, then go back again until he or she understands where their treat is located.
Now, ask your raven to perch onto your forearm—this is where the leash will be attached later on. Once they are sitting there, then put a treat underneath your finger (which you should still have thanks to step two). Then slowly begin walking around while holding them in place with their feet slightly touching the ground.
The Required License
The Migratory Birds Act of 1916 decreed that only licensed wildlife rehabilitators could own migratory birds that are native to the U.S.—including ravens.
The requirements and process to get a license to keep a raven as a pet varies by state. And it’s entirely banned in some of them. In some states, it is allowable to keep a raven as long as you have an appropriate license, permit or certificate.
In addition, there are also often laws that restrict how many other types of birds can be kept on one’s property. Keep that in mind if you think about getting a raven as your pet!
Same goes in Texas. Review your state’s legislation and websites to know if you can legally own a pet raven.
You’ll need to meet specific requirements to get the permit.
The Alternative: Making Friends with Wild Ravens
This is a viable alternative to outright owning a pet raven. You don’t need any permit, and you can save yourself the headache of training a raven. Plus, you won’t need enormous cages, or have them call for you every other minute.
How do you make friends with wild ravens?
The first thing you need to do is find a place with many ravens. This will help if they see that you’re not there to harm them or eat them—and it means that the likelihood of one approaching you is higher than well.
The area around farms is your best bet. The more isolated from humans they are, the better.
Then you need to make sure that your body language is inviting—open arms with palms visible. Ravens are intelligent birds and will interpret what you are trying to communicate.
Have treats on hand as well for them if they come close enough, but keep some distance between yourself at first so it’s not too overwhelming for the bird.
And then, it’s just a matter of being patient! Ravens are not domesticated animals and will never be so – but you can get them used to your presence until they feel comfortable around you. Just because ravens have a poor reputation does not mean that they are out to hurt you.
But be careful, they are way stronger than their size suggests. Their beaks, in particular, can hurt you badly. Don’t make any sudden movement, or hint at trying to do anything weird with them.
It will take a lot of time and patience, but if you do it right, you can have an amazing animal as your friend! They love being around people who aren’t afraid to show their affection for them, so be the brave one in this situation.
Yes, you can own a pet raven. No, not any kind of raven, only non-native species. Plus, you’ll need a license.
Ravens are among the smartest birds. They are also very social and can become attached to humans if they spend time with them. But training them takes a lot of time and patience. Plus, you’ll need enormous cages to hold them in. And, since they are super social, they can get very noisy, as they’ll call for your attention.
The alternative is befriending wild ravens, which is easier than you think. Just make sure that the area around has many of these birds, so one will come close by itself. Then try to communicate using open arms and making yourself look big while having treats available. It will take a lot of time and patience, but if you do it right, you can have an amazing animal as your friend!
Always check your state’s regulations, as you can’t have a pet raven in some of them. And check what it takes to get a wild pet permit. You’ll need proof that you can care for the animals. Also, it’s worth reminding you that a captive raven can live for up to 40 years. It’s definitely a long-term commitment.
Ravens have the potential to become your greatest friends, provided you treat them with respect.