Please Stop Buying Owls as Pets Because of Harry Potter

It turns out that the neoliberals on Twitter who have yet to accept the results of the November presidential election aren’t the only people obsessed with Harry Potter to a disturbing degree. An estimated 13,000 owls were sold last year in Indonesia’s bird markets, up from a few hundred in the 1990’s. This is according to a study by Vincent Nijman and Anna Nekaris published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation.

While the study is careful to say that we cannot, scientifically, draw a direct causal link between the popularity of Harry Potter and the rise in sales of owls in Indonesia, they point out that whereas owls used to be called Burung Hantu (“Ghost birds”), they are now commonly called Burung Harry Potter (“Harry Potter birds”). That’s a pretty good indication that people are buying owls after reading Harry Potter, but before reading the Wikipedia page for owls to find out that they make terrible pets. In 2012, the BBC reported a large increase in owls being left at an owl sanctuary due to people learning this lesson at the height of Harry Potter’s popularity.

The U.K. Barn Owl Trust recommends not keeping a barn owl as a pet, because they will scratch the hell out of you, s**t all over the house and try to have sex with you. And owls are nocturnal, so they’re going to do all that while you’re trying to sleep. Doesn’t sound so fun anymore, does it? I mean, I hope not, at least. If that does sound like the sort of thing you’d enjoy in a pet, maybe talk to a therapist.

Nijman and Nekaris chart the sales of owls in Indonesia in incredible and frankly, extremely boring to anyone who isn’t an environmental scientist, detail in their study. If you’re a fan of mean averages of birds for sale in Bali over the past two decades, this is the study for you, though. This is like hardcore porn for people who are turned on by tables documenting the species of owls being sold in Jakarta, which just on the odds, has to be at least one person in the world, right?

People do crazy things because of their love of Harry Potter. Remember the woman who whored herself out on Craigslist in order to get a trip to The Wizarding World Harry Potter in Universal Studios? I like the part where she says she’s not a slut. It’s technically true because what she actually is is a prostitute. Still, whoring yourself out for a trip to a theme park is a better idea than keeping an owl for a pet, especially if you think getting herpes is better than cleaning owl s**t out of all of your furniture.

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