What is the first thing you think of when you imagine a pirate? You probably picture a tough looking guy wearing tattered clothes, a bandanna and maybe an eye patch. He may even have a colorful parrot on his shoulder. Now the question is, did pirates really have parrots as pets on board the pirate ships with them? Not much is known about whether pirates actually kept animal companions on board with them during their pirate ship adventures. Historically, some evidence that cats and dogs were kept on board has been documented which indicated they were used to help keep rat infestation issues under control. As far as parrots go, some people speculate that parrots were kept on board as entertainment to keep boredom at bay during long trips at sea. They may even had been used as bargaining tools since they were considered exotic pets if needed. Continue reading below to learn more about pirate pets at sea.
Parrots as Pirate Pets
The most probably beginnings of the existence of parrots on pirate ships was related to the trade of parrots as exotic animals. Parrots were initially brought to ancient Greece back in the year 385 BC, and the trade of live parrots became common practice soon thereafter. There was a well established business in the trade of exotic animals during the golden age of piracy (including parrots) as royalty in Europe was enthralled by the parrot’s ability to speak and interact with humans. The most exotic animals were considered more valuable, and we all know that pirates love anything of value that could translate into money or gold! As many pirates often idealized the lifestyle of royalty, pirates took a liking to owning an exotic animal since it was considered a status symbol of the wealthy. Plus, a parrot’s naturally easy going social behavior made it a good companion to pass those lonely days on the open water. Parrot’s have an innate ability to learn tricks, speak and interact with humans which is unusual for most birds, so they became even more popular and sought after.
Cats and Dogs as Pirate Pets
Some historians believe that cats and dogs also joined pirates on their adventures on the open seas in addition to parrots. As cats and dogs have been living amongst humans for thousands of years, and it is likely they served the same purpose to pirates as they do today in modern times. Cats and dogs have long been a great companion for humans, and while on board they could help eat any unwanted mice that could threaten precious food supplies on board. A good mouser cat on a sailing ship would have been very important to help prevent loss of food rations that would be impossible to replace until the ship reached dry land. In addition, it is common knowledge that pirates were very superstitious and some seaman actually considered a black cat on board to be good luck. Legend was that as long as the cat was well fed and kept safe from harm, nothing would happen to the ship. On the flip side, there was a belief that if a cat was thrown overboard, a bad storm would soon form which meant bad luck was on its way.
What you think about pirate pets…if you were a pirate, would you have preferred a parrot, cat or dog to keep you company?