What Do Barn Owls Eat – Barn Owls Diet

Among all the owls, Barn Owl is widely found around the globe. There are around 28 subspecies of Barn Owl. It makes its nest in tree cavities, in high cliffs and in caves. Barn Owl is a bird of prey and hunt other birds and animals to feed itself. We have gathered complete information on “What Do Barn Owls Eat” and listed down all the birds and animals that form part of Barn Owls Diet. Furthermore, you will also get to know the amount of food it eat and what to feed it in captivity.

What Do Barn Owls Eat

  • The simple answer to this question is that Barn Owls eat meat.
  • To get meat it hunts other birds and small animals.
  • The major portion of barn owls diet consists of small mammals especially rodents like mice, rats, voles, shrew and lemmings.

what barn owls eat - barn owl diet

1. What Do Barn Owls Eat in the Wild

  • In the wild, the Barn Owls eat:
    • Rodents – more than 75% of the Barn Owls hunt consists of rodents (mice, rats, voles etc)
    • Leporids (rabbits and hares).
    • Shrews
    • Birds
    • Bats
    • Insects
    • Reptiles
    • Amphibians
  • The birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles form very small percentage of the total Barn Owl Diet.
  • Barn owls do not like to eat birds but sometimes they do hunt meadowlarks and starlings.

2. What Animals Do Barn Owls Eat

  • Barn Owls mostly hunt small animals and most of them are rodents. List of animals that Barn Owls eat are:
    • Pygmy mice
    • Jumping mice
    • Deer mice
    • House mice
    • Grasshopper mice
    • Pocket mice
    • Eurasian harvest mice
    • Kangaroo rats
    • Moles
    • Flying squirrels
    • Bog lemmings

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  • Barns Owls eat the young ones of the following animals:
    • Muskrats
    • Woodrats
    • House rats
    • Rice rats
    • Pocket gophers
    • Brown or Norway rats
    • Rabbits
    • Hares

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  • Sometimes barn owls also hunt:
    • Chipmunks
    • Ground Squirrels

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3. What Birds Do Barn Owls Eat

  • Birds are not the favorite food of Barn Owls but they do sometimes hunt the following birds:
    • Red-winged Blackbird
    • Yellow-headed Blackbird
    • Marsh wrens
    • Meadowlarks
    • European Starling

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4. Barn Owls Diet in Different Regions of the World

South American Barn Owl

  • The South American barn owls hunt the following animals in Chile:
    • Oryzomys – a semiaquatic rodent
    • Common Degu or Octodon – a rodent endemic to the Chilean matorral ecoregion
    • Mus – Mouse
    • Marmosa – a small marsupial without a pouch
    • Phyllotis – Andean Lead Eared Mouse
    • Rattus – ship rat, roof rat or house rat
    • Akodon – a South American grass mice
    • Abrocoma – a rodent found in Andes of South America
  • The South American barn owls hunt the following animals in Argentina:
    • Scapteromys – a South American rodent
    • Ctenomys – neotropical rodent
    • Holochilus – semi aquatic rodents or marsh rats
    • Eumops – a type of bat
    • Rattus – ship rat, roof rat or house rat
    • Mus – Mouse
    • Oligoryzomys – pygmy rice rats or colilargos
    • Reithrodon – bunny rat or hairy-soled cony rat
    • Akodon – south American grass mice
    • Calomys – Vesper mouse

European Barn Owl

  • In Europe, barn owls hunt :
    • voles
    • shrews
    • house mice
    • wood mice
    • sometimes they may eat small birds and frogs

African Barn Owl

  • In Africa, the Barn Owl hunts:
    • Mus – Mouse
    • Gerbillus – common gerbils
    • Otomys – African vlei rats or groove-toothed rats
    • Rattus – ship rat, roof rat or house rat
    • Desmodillus -The Cape short-eared gerbil
    • Praomys – a rodent endemic to Africa

Malaysian Barn Owl

  • In Malaysia, Barn Owls mainly hunt Rattus.

Australian Barn Owl

  • In Australia, Barn Owls hunt:
    • Notomys
    • Mus – Mouse
    • Rattus – ship rat, roof rat or house rat

5. What Do Baby Barn Owls Eat

  • The simple answer to this question is that, in the wild the baby barn owls eat whatever their parents feed them.
  • The parents catch small rodents for the baby barn owl to eat.
  • In the nest, a single offspring is fed at a time by the parents. The chicks take turns based on their hunger level.
  • So the baby barn owls eat the smaller rodents of the barn owls diet.

6.  What do Barn Owls Eat in Captivity

  • In captivity, Barn Owls eat:
    • Voles, shrews or mice.
    • Small birds
    • dead day-old chicks
    • blast frozen chicks
    • frozen domestic rats
    • vitamins and mineral supplements

7. How Much Do Barn Owls Eat

  • In one night an adult Barn Owl may eat 2 dead day-old chicks which is equal to the nutrition of 3 voles.

How Many Animals Does a Barn Owl Eat Each Night

  • A Barn Owl eat 6 voles or 6 vole-sized rodents each night.
  • The amount of food they eat each night is equal to 1/3 of their total body weight.

8. What to Feed a Barn Owl

  • Barn owls swallow their prey as a whole instead of tearing it into pieces. So it is better to feed them small animals instead of small pieces of large animals.
  • Voles, mice, shrews, nestling rabbits, moles and small birds can all be feeded to the owls provided that no rat or mouse poisons have been used in your locality.
  • Dead day-old cockerels is one of the best and easily available food item for the captive barn owls.
  • Avoid wild rats as most of them carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
  • Frozen domestic rats and mice purchased from your local pet store is an excellent food item for the barn owls.
  • Avoid feeding the following:
    • Pigeons, as they carry diseases.
    • Rabbits
    • Insects
    • Anything that has been shot with a gun as it may cause lead poisoning

9. Do Barn Owls Eat Cats

  • No, Barn Owls do not eat cats but an ambitious Barn Owl may attack kittens.
  • It is not possible for the Barn Owls to attack an adult cat and lift it up.

10. Do Barn Owls Eat Bats

  • Yes, Barn Owls do eat bats but rarely.
  • According to “The Mammal Society’s National Owl Pellet Survey”, in UK only in rare isolated cases Barn Owl hunted bats.

11. Do Barn Owls Eat Snakes

  • No Barn Owls do not eat Snakes.

12. Do Barn Owls Eat Chickens

  • Barn Owls do not go after adult chickens as they are large for them.
  • They might grab a chick or small chicken but it happens rarely.
  • Barn owls are not considered as threat to chickens.
  • However, in captivity they do eat dead day-old chicks.

13. How Do Barn Owls Eat

  • Barn Owls swallow their prey as a whole instead of tearing it into pieces.
  • They are unable to digest the fur and bones so they throw them out through their mouth in the form of pellets.

14. What Do Barn Owls Eat – Barn Owls Diet Video

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