When talking about cute and agile animals, seals will come up in that list. These are primarily fast swimmers that most people like, and, understandably, some might want one as a pet.
You need to know many things about seals and their habitat to understand how it would work if you had one as a pet. So let us jump right into it and learn all there is to know about seals;
Can You Have A Pet Seal?
Yes, legally, you can have a pet seal. This will only happen if you have all the facilities and space needed to keep the animal comfortable.
You would need a pebble beach, a large saltwater pool for the seal to swim in. You would also need a steady supply of fish to feed the seal. Get a seal from a wildlife organization or zoo.
Seal Diet And Habitat
When planning to get a pet, you need to consider where you will keep it and what it will eat. Accounting for these two factors will ensure that the pet is healthy and happy in your home, and the same applies to seals.
1. What Do Seals Eat?
Primarily, all seals eat fish. They are good divers and swimmers thus can catch and eat fish. They have big eyes that allow them to see underwater while they hunt.
They also have whiskers that allow them to detect the slightest movement on water and find their prey. They eat cod, flatfish, among other available species depending on seasons.
Some of the bigger species, such as the elephant seal and leopard seal, eat octopuses and penguins. These are all skills that are picked up after the nursing period is done.
2. Where do seals live?
Seals are found along most coastlines that are cold, but most of the population is in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. They are marine mammals, but they spend a lot of time on land. They are more adapted for life in the water.
On the ground, a seal moves at around 2km per hour, but in the water, they can swim at up to 35km/hour. This means that they need ample space for swimming and playing since they are acrobatic swimmers.
Types Of Seals
Seals are known for their unique body structure and energy. They are diverse, amounting to 32 different species that differ slightly from each other. They are sea mammals but spend a lot of time on land. Here are some common types of seals;
1. Gray Seals
These seals are generally located in the North Atlantic Ocean, and they mostly live in colonies along the coast. Their diet is mainly fish, but they can eat anything they will find, from lobsters to octopuses.
They consume an average of 56kg of food every day, and they are currently endangered since they are being hunted for meat, oil, and skin, especially in the US. Hopefully, this species will recover, and the conservation status will change.
2. Harp Seals
They are found from Canada to Russia. They are some of the most abundant animals on the planet, with a population of approximately 7.5 million worldwide. Their pups have a white coat that changes color as it grows.
This is an option for a pet since the conservation status is the least concern. The hunting of pups is banned, and the market for seal products dropped.
3. Harbor Seal
These are seals commonly found in temperate and arctic regions. They have silver, grey, or brown fur, and they have v-shaped nostrils.
These are solitary animals that don’t form communities; thus, it is a good choice for a pet.
The mothers are then sole providers for their young, and they give birth once a year. They are not under threat of extinction; thus, no conservation laws protect them.
However, the killing of seals is generally illegal in most countries, including the US, unless the seal threatens fisheries.
4. Fur Seal
They got the name because of the thick fur they have. Males are generally larger than females, and they hold territories that comprise about 40 females. They can be found all around the Pacific Rim, from Japan to California.
They can live up to 25 years and feed on fish such as herring and squid. They are good swimmers but not deep divers.
Initially, humans widely hunted them for their pelts, but they are making a comeback due to conservation efforts.
5. Leopard Seal
These are some of the enormous seals on the planet today, growing up to 11.5 feet long. This is also a very aggressive seal species, and it can attack humans.
The good part about them is that they hang upside down and sing while underwater. The only natural predator for these seals is the Orca, and at times the elephant seals.
They mostly live in areas inhospitable to humans, such as deep in the arctic, where it is freezing. They eat fish, but at times, they can eat penguins and others.
6. Elephant Seals
These are the largest seals on the planet and are classified as northern and southern elephant seals.
Southern seals are bigger than northern seals and in both cases males are bigger than females. Their color differs depending on age, season, and gender.
They have short front flippers with nails. Moreover, they molt once a year, and they come to the land for this.
They are good divers and eat fish, penguins, octopuses, crustaceans, and squid. Females hunt in the open oceans while males hunt on the ocean floors.
Amazing Facts About Seals
Yes, seals are mostly cute, but what are other amazing facts you need to know about them? If you have a pet, you need to understand all it is capable of to know what to expect. Here are some crucial facts about seals.
Seals can sleep underwater
This seems like a ridiculous claim, but it is true. They sleep underwater, but they have to wake up to breathe and then go back to sleep. They can open and close their nostrils so that water doesn’t go into their breathing system.
They are well adapted for extreme cold
Seals have a thick layer of fat under their skin which has a thick fur coat. This makes them survive in the cold temperatures of the Arctic and Antarctica.
They use their whiskers to search for fish while underwater
They move their lips, thus moving their whiskers to search for fish. They have a keen sense of smell, but they shut their nostrils while underwater.
Female seals can use the sense of smell to identify their young
Each baby seal has a scent that is familiar to its mom. When in a large group, as seals often are, a mother can smell out her pup during feeding time or protect it.
Threats To Seals In The Wild
Suppose you want to keep a pet seal, then you must have some love for seals. This means that you need to know some of the factors that threaten their population so that you can help save some. Here are the biggest threats to the current seal population;
Several seal species are considered vulnerable or endangered. This is because of the high amounts of hunting that happen in the sea.
Seals are hunted for their skin, meat, and oil, which have significantly reduced their population.
2. Lack of food
This is caused by both increased fishing activities and the destruction of seal habitats. As the Arctic ice melts, the food available to the seals keeps reducing, and the population gets thinner.
Overfishing has also left little food for wild animals, including seals leading to starvation.
3. Global warming and Pollution
These are the biggest problems in marine life, especially those that live in the Arctic regions. Global warming has caused the melting of ice caps, destroying the habitat for seals and reducing their food levels.
The increase in temperature also increases the number of predators going after seals, thus messing up the food chain, which could cause extinction.
Oceans are flooded with pollutants that poison the seals leading to death and population reduction.
If you have all the requirements, you can keep a seal as a pet. However, it is essential to know that seals are primarily social animals, and you can’t just grab one at the beach.
This would be unkind, like taking a child from its parents. The best thing to do is adopt a pup or rehabilitate a wounded seal by going through the correct wildlife organizations.
Seals are beautiful creatures that could be fun to be around, but they have a strong and unpleasant scent.
Hunting seals is prohibited in the US and only allowed if the animals threaten fisheries. Global warming, pollution, and illegal hunting have damaged the seal population, and some measures need to be taken to protect those remaining.