Can You Keep Chickens as Indoor Pets?

Do you love chickens but lack outdoor space? You have seen photos of chickens with diapers living indoors online. But do chickens make good house pets?

Jul 3, 2023By Kim Anisi
can you keep chickens as indoor pets

Chickens are usually kept in a coop overnight and let out in the mornings to roam in a garden or field. They return to their coop to lay eggs, get out of the rain, seek shade from the sun, or feel safe.

Most of the day, chickens will scratch the ground to look for bugs, take dust baths, roam around, and keep themselves entertained in their own little ways. But what if you have no garden and still want to keep a chicken?

Will a chicken be a suitable indoor pet?

Is It Healthy to Keep Chickens Indoors?

chicken and cat

Chickens aren’t more or less likely to infect you with a disease than any other pets. The problem is that chickens are masters of looking healthy even when something’s wrong with them. You may not be aware that you are handling a sick animal.

A chicken with salmonella or E-coli will often not show any physical signs. These are two diseases that can be passed from chickens to humans very easily, although a chicken is not a huge health concern for a healthy person. Someone with an immunocompromised system, however, should not keep chickens indoors.

Is It OK to Have Just One Chicken?

chickens dust bathing

It depends on the circumstances, but the answer is generally no. Chickens are happier in a group of at least 5. Chickens are social animals and can become lonely, bored, and even depressed when kept on their own for too long.

Of course, sometimes keeping just one chicken might save that chicken's life, for example, an injured rescue hen or a rooster who'd otherwise end up in the pot. So if you plan on keeping a single chicken as an indoor pet, you must be willing to be their constant companion.

Can I Have a Pet Rooster in the House?

crowing rooster

Roosters are misunderstood by many. People often abandon them, dump them in the woods, or make them meet an early end. The egg industry kills billions of roosters yearly when they are just one day old.

Animal rescues often try to find homes for roosters, because, let’s face it, life as an indoor pet is preferable to abandonment or an early death.

So yes, you can certainly have a pet rooster. They can be surprisingly gentle and intelligent. In fact, hens and roosters are both pretty clever. You may have to keep the rooster in the dark until 7 or 8 am, however, as your neighbors may not like early crowing!

Should I Get Chicken Diapers for My Indoor Chicken?

sitting chicken

Chickens poop a lot. Fortunately, healthy chicken poop is smaller and more “pleasant” than a cat or dog poop. It shouldn’t smell much. If it stinks or is very runny, then something’s not quite right.

Chicken diapers are usually an excellent solution for indoor chickens and their bathroom needs. They aren't expensive, and there are some neat styles. You will, however, need to empty and clean them regularly.

Your only other option is to constantly clean up after your chicken, wherever he poos!

Where Does a House Chicken Sleep?

rooster and hens

Most chickens love to roost on something during the night. You have various options to provide a suitable night perch for your chicken. You could get a small indoor coop. A small, pretty enclosure that fits your decor also gives a chicken a place to retreat to during the day and maybe lay eggs.

You could also wait and see where the chicken goes during the first day in your house. Chickens like to find a safe spot before it gets dark. Your new pet might already have a preference.

Many people who keep chickens indoors let them sleep in the bathroom as this is an easy place to clean in the mornings. A safe option would be to get a suitably sized pet carrier with a small water trough for the night. The carrier would safely contain the chicken. If it is a rooster, you could also put a light blanket over the pet carrier, so he won't start crowing at 4 am!

Chickens and Other Pets

indoor chicken and cat

It may be hard to believe, but chickens can get along with many other pets. This depends on how well-behaved and social your other pets are, though. Some dogs want to chase chickens, and some cats try to jump them. On the flip side, a chicken may eat your pet mouse. Your dog and your house chicken could become best friends. Your cat might let your chicken eat from their food bowl without concern.

Predicting how your other pets and an indoor chicken will get along is tricky. In my time with chickens, I've seen a variety of interactions between chickens and other animals. Some went well, some not so much.

You must introduce your pets to each other carefully and always supervise them until you are 101% sure nothing will happen. Chickens may seem harmless but can seriously harm cats or dogs if they feel cornered and threatened.

Final Thoughts About Chickens as Indoor Pets

Orpington rooster

It’s so easy to fall in love with chickens, but loving them also means having their best interests in mind.

Keeping chickens indoors for an extended period is not the best idea. Chickens should ideally only be house pets temporarily, e.g., when injured or sick. Of course, a chicken with a long-term health condition can be better off living indoors. However, an ordinary, healthy chicken will be happier in a flock with outdoor access.

Kim Anisi
By Kim Anisi

Kim currently works with birds of prey, dogs, cats, and some horses in Scotland. Her other big love is gulls, ravens, and chickens – which started during her time as a bird rescue volunteer in New Zealand. You'll often find her stalking animals with a camera, or walking dogs, including Ivory, her Golden Retriever.