Area of zoo
Birds of the world arena
Enclosure status
IUCN status
Least Concern
Scientific name
Athene cunicularia
Savanna, Shrubland, Grassland, Desert

Burrowing owl facts

Burrowing owls are the only owl species to live underground, and unlike most owls they are active throughout the day. They nest, roost and raise chicks in burrows which are left by other animals like armadillos or prairie dogs. Living in open areas with few trees, these burrows offer safety from predators and the midday sun. Burrowing owls have long legs, which helps them maintain their burrows and sprint after their prey. Their chicks emerge from their burrows to begin flying at six weeks old.  

Burrowing owl at Whipsnade Zoo

What do burrowing owls eat? 

Burrowing owls eat moles and mice during late spring and early summer, switching to insects such as grasshoppers and beetles later in the year. They have also been known to eat birds, amphibians and reptiles.

Burrowing owl habitat 

Burrowing owls can be found in any area open dry area with low vegetation, like grasslands, agricultural areas and deserts.

Meet our other feathered friends at Whipsnade

  • White-faced Scops Owl with two tufts on it's head and bright orange eyes
    Ptilopsis leucotis

    White-faced Scops Owl

    These owls are able to transform to ward off predators, by either making themselves appear much larger or smaller.

  • Two Marabou storks 'the undertaker bird' at Whipsnade Zoo
    Leptoptilos crumenifer

    Marabou stork

    Known as the 'undertaker bird', these storks gained their unfortunate nickname because of their huge, dark, cloak-like wingspan and diet of rotten carcasses.

  • Ricky the rockhopper penguin at Whipsnade Zoo
    Eudyptes moseleyi

    Rockhopper penguin

    These small penguins pack in a big personality, and Ricky the rockhopper penguin is one of our most famous animals.