I’ve previously blogged about pest control pets such as mosquito loving toads and rat catching dogs but a visit to a local rescue center introduced me to the Little Owl. As the Little Owl perched on its branch and peeped at me wearily I read the placard clipped to its cage which described how the Little Owl was kept as a pet in kitchens in the 1800’s because they were so clever at catching cockroaches.I’m not too sure if a Little Owl could be introduced as a pest control measure within a kitchen today but it would certainly be great to encourage them to nest outside. An analysed regurgitated pellet from a Little Owl contained 2000 crane-fly eggs and 342 earwigs but Britain’s smallest owl also enjoys mice, small birds, bats, frogs, beetles, moths, caterpillars and insects generally.
By 1960 the Little Owl could be found in every county in England and Wales but in recent years there has been a decline due to habitat loss of old trees and hedgerows. The Little Owl is just as at home in a town park as the countryside so long as there is enough food to plunder, so if you spot a Little Owl in your town it might be picking off the local cockroach population at night.
All the Little Owls in Britain originated from just 18 which were released in England in 1888. Today there are an estimated 6,000 pairs in the UK. Little Owl’s are laying their eggs right now and the young fledge in June or July. To encourage the cockroach munching Little Owl into your area try introducing a nesting box.