All About Dogs

Did Pirates Keep Pets?

September 18, 2022

Ahoy buckos!  Tomorrow, September 19th, be speak like a scurvy pirate dayThe amazing Kitsune is quite fond of this ‘holiday’, mostly because his people talk funny and act silly, and he gets to wear his pirate costume!  Talk Like a Pirate Day is a silly holiday that we like to try to remember to celebrate.  I wanted to post something about Talk Like a Pirate Day, but wasn’t quite sure how to tie it in with pets.

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 animal that comes 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 did!

Pirates and Parrots

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.

Monkeys, Cats, and Dogs, Oh My!

Apparently pirates had a flare for the exotic (who would have thought) and also commonly kept small monkeys.  More common type of 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.

So Pirates, Most Likely, Did Keep Pets!

pirates petsWhile there are not actually written accounts of pirates keeping pets on their ships, they most likely did.  These pets would have included everything from exotic parrots and monkeys, to the more common cats and dogs.  Exotic pets were thought to be favored as status symbols, and because they could fetch a pretty doubloon through the exotic pet trade.  Sailors, in the days of pirates, considered a cat aboard ship to bring good luck.  Cats, and dogs too, would probably be expected to help protect food stores from rats.  Dogs may have been used for hunting while ships were docked.  And, of course, even by pirates, pets were more than likely appreciated for their companionship. 

I may like to dress my dogs like pirates, but I doubt they’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, after all!

pirates pets

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