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Did Pirates Keep Pets?

66Ahoy buckos! This day be speak like a scurvy pirate day!  The amazing Mr. Kit is quite fond of this 'holiday', mostly because his people talk funny and act silly, and he gets to wear his pirate costume!  My boys are the talk of the town on a normal day, always attracting lots of attention during walks - so just imagine how many heads Kit turns strutting down the street dressed as a pirate.  Kit is a social butterfly (get it...he's a Papillon!) and just adores all the extra attention.

Talk Like a Pirate Day is a silly holiday that we like to try to remember to celebrate.  I wanted to post something about it today but wasn't quite sure how to tie it in with pets.  I mean...I could have just posted adorable pictures of my little pirates, but Kit is the only one with a costume and I'm pretty sure that's what I've done in past years already.

While trying to think of pirate/pet themed post ideas it hit me...did pirates even keep pets?  Of course when you think of pirates and pets usually parrots are the first animals that come to mind.  After doing a bit of research I found numerous sources that said that although there aren't actually any historical records of pirates keeping parrots as pets, they probably really did.

Via The Dread Pirate Dan, Wikimedia Commons
Via The Dread Pirate Dan, Wikimedia Commons

A pet parrot perched on a pirates shoulder would have served as a status symbol.  The exotic pet trade was alive and well during the time of pirates, and it's likely the colorful birds would have been relatively easy for pirates to come across (whether they bought them or resorted to pirating is another story) as they visited Caribbean ports.

Apparently pirates had a flare for the exotic (who would have thought) and also commonly kept small monkeys.  More common type pets, such as cats and dogs, were probably kept on ships too - but they would be expected to earn their keep.  Besides providing entertainment and companionship, cats and dogs would be expected to help eliminate rats.


Cats seem to have a special place in the hearts of sailors, whether they were honest sailors or pirates.  There are quite a few superstitions surrounding cats on ships including that they can bring luck, predict the weather, and ensure a safe voyage.

Kit may like to dress like a pirate, but I doubt he'd actually enjoy living the life of one.  I'd imagine that life was, unfortunately, often pretty rough for the pets of pirates.  But who knows, maybe there were some tender hearted pirates who liked to pamper their pets.  Life can't be all loot and ale, afterall.


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