Keeping a Pet Puffin Bird – Is It Legal or Illegal?

So you want a pet puffin huh? They are cool and unique birds but would a puffin as a pet be a good idea?

In this article, I provide you with all the information you need about pet puffins. Information like whether pet puffins are legal or illegal, where puffins live, what their habitats are like, and what they eat.

If you are ready to learn all about puffins, let’s get started!

Can You Have a Pet Puffin?

Pet puffins are illegal to own in most places in the world due to special regulations and legislation. They are considered to be a vulnerable species by the IUCN and are not legal as pets.

Can a Puffin Bird Be a Pet?

Can You Have a Pet Puffin in The United States (U.S.)?

Owning a pet puffin in the United States is illegal. Due to special legislation, puffin birds are considered illegal to own as pets in the United States and many other countries.

These birds are a vulnerable species and should be left alone in the natural environment.

Can You Have a Pet Puffin in Canada?

You can’t have a pet puffin in Canada because it is illegal to own a puffin as a pet. Canada has special legislation and regulations that deny you the ability to have pet puffins.

Can You Have a Pet Puffin in Australia?

Puffins can be found off the Australian coast around Queensland while traveling back to their colony. Pet puffins are illegal in Australia because Australia has pretty strict laws prohibiting wild animals as pets.

Since puffins are considered native, wild animals – they are strictly prohibited as pets.

Can You Have a Puffin as a Pet in The United Kingdom (UK)?

The UK has laws in place regarding wild animals and birds that live or visit European countries. To keep a wild animal as a pet, you have to follow certain requirements and get special licenses to ensure it is being kept responsibly and safely.

You can learn more about keeping exotic animals as pets in the UK by clicking here.

Pet puffins are not listed as exemptions and there is no identifying legislation specifically for keeping a pet puffin in the UK, so it is best to check with your local government and wildlife officials to get an accurate answer as to whether pet puffins are legal or not in your area of the UK.

Are Puffins Good Pets?

Puffins appear to be tame and mostly non-aggressive birds. A pet puffin might sound like a good idea since these birds don’t appear to be dangerous, or too aggressive, and they aren’t timid or scared when around humans.

However, having a puffin as a pet is not a good idea because puffins are seabirds and live at sea for most of their life when it isn’t the breeding season.

If you live close to the sea, then maybe that is a different discussion, but puffins don’t seem to be that interested in training.

A pet puffin, like many other bird species, will not be able to be potty-trained properly and will defecate wherever and whenever it wants.

Puffins are wild animals and are used to their environments and habitats.

To take one from the wild and attempt to turn it into a pet would be devastating for the bird and would likely be a terrible experience for you as well.

Puffin Physical Details

Puffins are short, stocky seabirds with bright orange bills and feet in the spring and summer. But they shed those bright colors and have duller bills and feet in autumn and winter.

Baby pufflings are born weighing just a few ounces while adults have an average weight between 1 to 1.5 pounds (450 to 680 g).

Male puffins tend to be slightly larger than females.

Puffins have a wingspan between 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61 cm) and grow to be between 8 to 15 inches (20 to 38 cm) tall.

Puffin Bird Behavior & Temperament

Puffin Behavior

Let’s take a look at different aspects of a puffin bird’s behavior, characteristics, and temperament.

Are Puffins Aggressive?

Puffins are not as aggressive as some of the other bird species, but they have their moments of aggression. Males tend to be more aggressive than females.

Aggressiveness in puffins has been observed for the usual behaviors, which include territorial disputes and mating season.

Are Puffins Dangerous?

Puffins are not dangerous to humans. They don’t show aggression toward us and are usually more curious about us than anything else.

However, any bird may be unpredictable around its nest. But puffins appear to be non-aggressive and shouldn’t be feared by humans.

Are Puffins Docile?

Puffins don’t appear to be scared easily and they are curious birds. They appear to be tame for the most part, but they are still wild animals and will act like wild animals.

Are Puffins Affectionate?

Puffins are affectionate to one another when in mated pairs. They will show affection by rubbing and tapping their beaks. Everything with the puffin bird is about the beak.

Are Puffins Friendly?

Puffins aren’t friendly but rather curious when it comes to humans. They aren’t as aggressive as other bird species and tend to be tamer.

Puffins don’t appear to be afraid of humans, so you can actually get very close to them.

However, this doesn’t mean they are inviting you into their space, so you should still respect their space and give them distance.

Are Puffins Solitary?

Puffins are not solitary. They are very social birds that usually breed in large colonies. During the breeding season, a colony can consist of over several thousand birds.

Are Puffins Territorial?

Puffins are territorial but not as much as other bird species. They will protect their territory and become more aggressive during the breeding season. Males are more territorial than females.

Puffin Diet

Since these birds spend most of their time at sea, it is only natural that their diet would consist mainly of fish.

What do Puffins Eat?

The puffin diet almost always consists of small fish that are no longer than six inches in length.

Fish that puffins eat regularly include capelin, cod, hake, herring, sand lance (sand eels), and sprat.

Puffin Habitat

These birds are sea birds and don’t spend a lot of their time on land. Their habitat is mainly in or around big bodies of water.

Puffin Habitat In the Wild

Puffins mainly live at sea unless it is the breeding season. During the breeding season, they only stay on land for a few months before heading back out at sea.

When they are spending their few months on land, they prefer locations close to the sea such as islands and coastlines, where they start breeding colonies.

Puffin Habitat as a Pet

Having a pet puffin would be difficult because these sea birds basically live at sea. If you don’t have the sea in your backyard, it will be hard to satisfy a pet puffin.

They may be able to survive in other bodies of water close to your house, but a puffin would much rather be in the wild at sea than in your backyard pond as a pet puffin.

Pet Puffin Bird Cost

How Much Do Puffin Birds Cost?

There is very little information on the cost of a pet puffin because there is no place I could find where owning a pet puffin was perfectly legal.

You won’t find a puffin bird for sale very easily or legally. Due to this, there are no real cost comparisons available.

That said, if you do happen to live in an area where having a pet puffin is totally legal, it will likely cost a decent amount considering these birds are endangered and not readily available as exotic pets on the market.

Purchase a Pet Puffin

There aren’t any exotic pet bird breeders I found that have puffin birds available for sale. Purchasing a pet puffin will be impossible (on the legal market).

Since pet puffins are illegal in all the major areas, price points are not readily available.

Adopt a Pet Puffin

You can’t physically adopt a pet puffin but you can symbolically adopt one by donating to any of the websites below:

16 Commonly Asked Questions About Puffins

Below are 16 common questions that get asked about puffin birds on a regular basis.

Puffin Bird Common Questions

1. Where Do Puffins Live?

Puffins primarily live at sea and they are known as seabirds. North American puffins nest in wide ranges from Newfoundland to the Northeastern United States while puffins located in Europe nest in ranges from the Brittany Coast of France to Greenland, Iceland, and Northern Russia.

Over half of the world’s puffin population is found in Iceland during the breeding season.

2. What Are Baby Puffins Called?

A baby puffin is called a “puffling” or a “chick”. They hatch roughly 40 days after the egg has been laid.

When pufflings are born, they are about 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall and weigh only a few ounces.

3. How Long Do Puffins Live For?

Puffins have a lifespan of around 20 years in the wild. The oldest living puffin that we know about lived to be 36 years old.

4. Do Puffins Mate for Life?

Puffins do not mate for life but they rarely change mating partners. They almost always stay with the partner they have and will reuse the same nest every year.

While they will rarely change mates, it does happen at times so they are not birds that 100% mate for life.

5. Are Puffins Going Extinct or Endangered?

Puffins are not going extinct and they are not an endangered species. However, they are listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN and their numbers are steadily decreasing.

Estimates currently put the puffin population of adults between 12 to 14 million.

6. How Do Puffins Hold so Many Fish?

Puffins can hold more than ten fish in their mouth at a time. They can accomplish this because they have spiny tongues that help them hold so many fish at once when they press their spiny tongues against the roofs of their mouths.

7. Do Puffins’ Beaks or Feet Change Color?

A puffin’s bill will change color depending on the season. During the breeding season, puffins will have a bright, colorful orange beak but they shed this color for a more dull color when winter approaches.

They also do this with their feet. During the winter months, both their bill and feet will be a dull color and then brighten when spring approaches.

8. What Are a Group or Flock of Puffins Called?

A group of puffins is known by many names, but the most common names are:

  • a burrow
  • a circus
  • a colony
  • a gathering
  • an improbability
  • a puffinry
  • a raft
  • a wheel

9. Can Puffins Fly and Swim?

Puffins can fly for hundreds to thousands of miles depending on the situation. They are also great swimmers because they practically live at sea.

They use their wings to dive under the water and use their feet for stability while hunting for small fish.

10. Do Puffins Make Noise?

Puffins do make noise. Depending on the situation, a puffin will make a grunting or growling sound. Puffins grunt to attract females.

They do this in unison while flicking their head back. In the breeding burrows, puffins can be heard making growling sounds.

11. Is a Puffin a Penguin?

Although both bird species, puffins and penguins look very similar with their black and white feathers, they belong to different bird families.

Puffins belong to the Alcidae family while penguins belong to the Spheniscidae family.

12. How Long Can Puffins Fly?

When out at sea looking for fish to snatch, puffins will fly as far out as 30 miles or more.

They can fly as fast as 55 miles (88 km) per hour with their wings reaching around 400 beats per minute.

Outside of the breeding season, puffins will fly even greater distances for hundreds of miles and can even roam at a distance of thousands of miles.

13. Are Puffins Herbivores?

Puffins are carnivores. They feed on small fish such as capelin, cod, hake, herring, sand eels, and sprat.

14. What Are Puffins’ Enemies And/or Predators?

The Great Black-backed Gull is the most prominent predator of puffins. Other predators for puffins include eagles, foxes, hawks, and skuas.

15. Are Puffins Related to Parrots?

Puffins are seabirds and are not related to parrots. Although both bird species sport fantastic colors, they are not a part of the same family.

Puffins belong to the Alcidae family while parrots belong to the Psittacidae family.

16. Where Do Puffins Go in The Winter?

North American puffins will migrate to two different places in the winter. Their first stop is Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence (spending about a month there) and their second stop when heading southeast is off the coast of Cape Cod, several hundred miles out from the shore.

Iceland puffins will stay out at sea during the winter and only return to land during the breeding season.

In other areas, most puffins will spend the autumn and winter out at sea and return when it is time to breed, spending a few months on land before repeating the process.


I hope you came, you saw, and you read this article. If you did, you now know that a pet puffin is illegal almost everywhere in the world and maybe even all of the world.

Having a puffin as a pet is not the best option for most pet owners considering they live at sea and don’t appear to be very trainable.

While they are pretty and amazing birds, a pet puffin would be hard to maintain unless you have or live close to a big body of water and can actually “train” your pet puffin to fly away and actually return.

But good luck with that!

I hope you learned everything you wanted to know about keeping pet puffins, along with other general information about puffins in the wild, their habitats, physical characteristics, and their demeanor.

Until next time, have a great day, and enjoy some more good reads here.

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