Can You Own Flamingos as pets?

Can you own a flamingo as a pet? Most likely not. Flamingos are wild animals and it is very difficult to meet all their needs. Additionally, it is illegal in many countries to keep wild animals without a license from the government.

Pet Flamingos

After reading this article you will know why flamingos aren’t a good choice when you decide on a pet. Therefore I will guide you to legislative regulations, care, costs and everything else that is important if you want to keep flamingos as pets.

Is It Legal To Own A Flamingo As Pet?

Flamingos and other native birds like swans are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. [1] That means, that it is illegal to keep wild animals in captivity.

Of course, some exceptions exist for zoos and animal parks. But it is very unlikely that you have everything it takes to get permission as a private person.

Under no circumstances you are allowed to catch a wild flamingo. You have to buy one from a professional breeder which is hard to find.

I recommend choosing a species that is domesticated and more suitable as a pet. You can find appropriate pets at the pet store.

Several birds like parakeets or budgies are relatively low-maintenance and make good pets.

The Right Flamingo Habitat

Flamingo Habitat In Animal Park

I already mentioned that flamingos have very special needs. Even if they are not the right fit as a pet you might ask yourself how you should accommodate these beautiful creatures.

You will need a large fenced-in area with a big pond. Flamingos are sea birds that need a certain amount of water in their habitat to thrive.

Saltwater is also very important as it is the main source of flamingos’ food. But I will come to this later on.

Of course, flamingos will fly away if you don’t implement measures to avoid it. There are mainly three things you can do in this hindsight.

  1. Place a net over the flamingo enclosure. This seems to be the most natural thing you can do, but it is also expensive.
  2. Clipping the flapping pins. Flamingos need these feathers for flying. The procedure itself is pain-free but causes a lot of stress. As flapping pins regrow you have to redo it from time to time.
  3. Clipping the wings. A bone in the wing that is needed for flying is broken through this measurement. It is a permanent intervention and the bird will never be able to fly again. It is drastic but once done, you don’t have to worry about flamingos that fly away again.

Apart from the size and structure of the habitat, the climate has to be warm as most flamingo species live in tropical regions.

Zoos often have the ability to offer an enclosure that protects the birds from cold weather. By this means flamingos can be kept even in cold countries like Canada.

Dietary Needs Of Flamingos

Flamingos are famous for their pink color but did you know that even the pinkest flamingo was born white?

Yes, it is right. Flamingos need up to three years to develop pink feathers, faces and legs.

So why do I mention this fact when this section should be about dietary needs? 

Because the color comes from beta carotene they absorb from their food. 

As I mentioned already above, most of their food sources are connected to water. In the wild flamingos eat a variety of red algae, shrimps, small fish and bivalve larvas.

It is important to cater a balanced diet if you want to have a pink flamingo. If there is any malnutrition the color will fade over time.

As pet flamingos are not common at all there is no such thing as flamingo pellets that contain everything the birds need. This fact makes it unbelievably difficult to meet the dietary requirements.

Social Needs Of Flamingos

Flamingo Group In The Wild

Flamingos can’t be kept alone. Even one or three is not enough.

The birds are highly social and need conspecifics to be happy. Groups in animal parcs typically contain 10 or more individuals.

This is also the number you should aim for if you want to be a responsible pet owner.

Can you imagine what such a large group of birds means to the size of their habitat? Also don’t underestimate what this means to the costs. You better have deep pockets.

How Long Do Pet Flamingos Live?

In the wild flamingos normally live 25 years long. 

That is a little different if they live in captivity with proper care. Zoos report ages up to 50 years regularly.

How Much Does A Pet Flamingo Cost?

Keeping not domesticated animals in captivity is always expensive and there is no workaround. You are not allowed to catch a wild flamingo, so you will have to buy one. 

The price of one flamingo can range between 2500 and 3500 $ and is only the starting point. Have in mind that you will have to buy far more than one bird, so this initial investment adds up quickly. 

Another important point on the list is the habitat. Everything you can buy for other birds won’t fit the size and needs of a flamingo.

You need to build the whole habitat on your own. Including a net that prevents the birds from flying away as well as a large saltwater pond.

As I have already said, there is no such sing as special flamingo food. Be prepared to buy a whole lot of seafood to fill the stomach of your pet.

People often forget that a pet needs to see the vet regularly. Even if nothing is wrong with health, check-ups are required at fixed intervals.

Flamingos are so exotic that it will be hard to find a veterinarian that can treat the animal if something is wrong. Therefore prices will be high if you find the right person.

Are Flamingos Dangerous?

Girl with group of flamingos

There is always a risk in handling wild creatures but flamingos, in particular, are not more dangerous than other species. 

Even though they have strong beaks and sharp claws they are calm and peaceful animals. In animal parks, humans often can directly interact with the birds.

Usually, flamingos don’t like to be petted. If you hold some distance and don’t corner them everything should be fine.

Surprisingly some flamingos can build strong bonds with humans over the years.

Wrapping Things Up

Chances are high that flamingos aren’t the right pet for you. They are wild animals that have special needs most people simply can’t meet. 

It’s also very expensive to get the right setup. Additionally, catching wild birds is illegal in many countries and prices for an individual are high if you find a licensed breeder.