Snowy owl

(Bubo scandiaca)




Facts about this animal

The Snowy Owl is 53-65 cm long with a 125-150 cm wingspan. Both sexes are white with dark bars and spots, although these dark markings are more pronounce in females and younger indivuduals. Old males may be pure white. It has feathered feet and its large sharp talons and dull black bill are almost buried in its fluffy white feathers. Females are larger and heavier than males.

Their breeding territory directly corresponds with the distribution of small rodents (especially lemming).

Did you know?
that the eyes of owls do not move in their sockets? To look to the side or to follow a moving object, the bird must turn its head.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Bubo scandiaca
Name (English) Snowy owl
Name (French) Chouette harfang
Name (German) Schneeeule
Name (Spanish) Buho nival
Local names Finnish: Tunturipöllö
Norwegian: Snøugle
Swedish: Fjälluggla
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Snowy Owls breed on the arctic tundra of both Eurasia and North America. In winter it usually migrates south to warmer places.
Habitat In general the Snowy Owl inhabits areas of low sparse vegetation: arctic tundra, open grasslands, prairies, marshes, open fields, and shorelines
Wild population It has a large global population estimated to be 290,000 individuals. Global population trends have not been quantified, but populations appear to be stable. (IUCN)
Zoo population This species is often keep in zoos and breeds with success in captivity.

In the Zoo

Snowy owl


How this animal should be transported

Owls travel best in completely dark boxes. Boxes should be slightly longer than the head to tail length of the bird intended to travel, and wide and high enough for the bird to be able to stand or lie down in comfort without banging its shoulders or head. A well made wooden box with no perches is required, with carpet or some other non slip surface fixed on the floor and a padded ceiling, with air-holes on either side. The easiest type of door to use is an upward sliding door at one end. The door can then be slid up a small amount; the bird visualised before being grasped by the legs, carefully, through the small opening before sliding the door fully open for removal. A handle fixed to the top of the box makes carrying easier.

For air transport, Container Note 20 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The reason for keeping snowy owls in zoos is primarily educational as they are the only owl species adapted to arctic conditions. Snowy owls can also be associated with polar foxes for multispecies exhibits displaying the tundra, but ideally part of the exhibit should not be accessible to the foxes.