Wild Birds

Can You Have a Kiwi Bird as a Pet?

One of the most common questions Googled about Kiwis is whether they can be kept as pets. The answer is a straight no – but in this article, I will share some ways you can meet and see them.

Kiwi birds are the most recognizable national symbol of New Zealand, but can they also make for good pets?

Contrary to what a lot of people think, these unusual birds cannot actually be kept as indoor pets.

Not only are they incredibly shy and flightless, but they are also endangered species.

They require specific habitats and diets to ensure their survival.

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at the reasons why it is not legal to keep a kiwi bird as a pet.

I will also discuss the importance of protecting kiwi birds in their natural habitat and explore ways you can support the conservation efforts.


Can You Have a Kiwi Bird as a Pet


Can Kiwi Birds Be Kept as Pets?

Kiwis: An Endangered Species

Kiwis are an iconic bird species. Native to New Zealand, their numbers have dwindled in the previous decades due to a variety of threats.

Predation and the destruction of habitat by humans have drastically cut down their population.

With only an estimated 68,000 kiwis left in the wild, it has become a major conservation concern.

Kiwis are currently classified as ‘at-risk,’ and ongoing efforts are needed to protect them from decline.

Fortunately, dedicated organizations have been established to provide protection both in the wild and in captivity.

Their effort is ensuring that future generations get to experience this beloved bird for many years to come.

Where Do Kiwi Birds Live?

Kiwi birds are native to New Zealand, where they live on both the North and South islands.

They prefer temperate forests and shrublands made up of native trees.

However, they can also be found in coastal regions.


Kiwis are nocturnal birds and are not suited to becoming pets.


Kiwi habitat is primarily forest understory, so these birds can be hard to spot.

They are nocturnal creatures and spend most of their time foraging among leaf litter and searching for food.

They hide in burrows during the day or tuck themselves into a hollow in a tree trunk when frightened by predators.

Sadly, cats, ferrets, and other introduced species became the biggest threat to Kiwi chicks and quickly resulted in the decline of Kiwi populations.

Conservation efforts such as using traps for predatory animals have been effective in allowing their local populations to recover and thrive once more.

Can You Buy a Kiwi Bird Anywhere in The World?

Due to their popularity and cultural significance, Kiwis are a much sought-after pet in many countries around the world.

However, it is not possible to buy a live Kiwi bird anywhere in the world.

They are under protected status since their population is under threat.

However, you can purchase stuffed toys, figurines, and replicas of this bird (and the unique Kiwi eggs!) from many stores or online outlets.

These provide an ideal way for those who wish to own a piece of Kiwi memorabilia without impacting any wild populations.


Their dwindling population has meant that they are protected almost everywhere.


Can You Own a Kiwi Bird in the US?

No, it is not possible to own a kiwi bird as a pet in the U.S. either.

However, there are ways for enthusiastic avian lovers to have a very close encounter with these adorable flightless birds.

A popular option is to visit one of the mainland United States zoological parks and Kiwi sanctuaries that are home to them, such as the San Diego Zoo.

You can observe them from behind the glass and learn more about their behaviors.

For those looking for more hands-on experience, there are several nonprofit groups in New Zealand.

These are dedicated to conservation and preservation efforts that offer “adopt-a-kiwi” programs.

Through these programs, participants can sponsor kiwi birds.

You can provide necessary resources such as food and protection while keeping tabs on their progress.

Some even get sent regular updates or photos!

Would Kiwis Make For Good Pets?

Kiwis would not make good pets even if they were available in abundance!

They require a specialized diet, unique habitat, and environment and are incredibly sensitive to human contact.

Moreover, Kiwis are nocturnal birds that feed mainly on insects in the wild.

This makes it difficult for pet owners to replicate their natural diet in captivity, and on top of that, it would limit contact to only nighttime, which would be frustrating for the owner.


While they can form strong bonds with caretakers, kiwis are generally not very fond of human contact.


Additionally, kiwis are used to long stretches of open space and thick vegetation.

Kiwis require plenty of space to roam free. All of this makes them among the more difficult exotic birds to keep as pets.

Lastly, while they can form strong bonds with their caretaker – kiwis aren’t particularly known for their ability to interact with people.

They do not respond well to close contact with humans and can become easily stressed when handled.

This makes them an unsuitable choice for those wanting a cuddly pet.

What To Do If You Encounter A Sick or Injured Kiwi?

If you encounter a sick or injured kiwi, the best thing to do is try to contact your local wildlife rescue.

If that isn’t possible, follow the tips outlined by The Kiwi Conservation Club.

Before attempting to do anything with the kiwi, ensure it’s not in immediate danger.

Once it’s safe, take steps to ensure the kiwi is kept chilled and has access to fresh water.

This will help reduce its stress levels until it can get professional aid.

It’s important for your own safety that you keep a safe distance when handling an injured animal.

Never try to pick up a wild bird unless absolutely necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do Kiwi birds last?

On average, a Kiwi bird can live between 15-20 years in the wild with proper care.
The birds found in captivity and managed by conservation programs typically have much longer lifespans of up to 25 years or more.
Factors such as predation, habitat loss, pollution, and disease all contribute to the shorter lifespan of kiwis living in their natural environment.
Although kiwis are one species that is highly protected against extinction and provides valuable benefits to New Zealand’s ecosystems, it is still extremely difficult to keep populations sustainable due to their slow reproductive rate and short life spans.

What do kiwi birds eat?

Kiwi birds are mostly ground-dwelling omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.
They primarily feed on earthworms, lizards, cicadas, beetles, centipedes, spiders, moths, grasshoppers, and other small arthropods.
They may include fruits such as berries and seeds from native New Zealand plants or introduced species.
Having no teeth, kiwi birds use their bill to probe the soil for their food. They sometimes forage in shallow pools of water for frogs and aquatic insects as well.

Are kiwi birds aggressive?

Kiwi birds are generally known to be quite shy and passive creatures, yet they can become surprisingly aggressive when it comes to protecting their territory.
The male kiwi is particularly sensitive to unknown intruders and will respond with loud warning calls and physical behavior such as inflating its throat and charging the intruder.
Generally, though, if you respect the boundaries of a wild kiwi bird and keep your distance, it is unlikely that you will encounter any aggression from them.

Can Kiwi birds speak?

Kiwi birds are not capable of speaking like humans, unlike parrots.
Instead, they produce a variety of loud and distinctive vowel-like noises for communication.
In addition, some vocalizations have been found to be specific to certain individuals, making them function similarly to ‘names’ within a group.
Different calls have also been identified in various Kiwi species, used under different circumstances, such as territorial defense and courtship displays.

Wrap Up

Kiwi birds are beautiful and charismatic creatures.

Due to their endangered status, it’s illegal to keep a Kiwi bird as a pet in most countries.

Therefore, if you wish to observe a kiwi bird up close and admire its quirky features, support your local conservation organizations or visit a dedicated sanctuary instead.

Although it might seem like a fun idea to have a pet kiwi at home, it’s important to remember that wild animals belong in the wild!


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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