The most probably beginnings of the existence of parrots on pirate ships was related to the trade of parrots as exotic animals. Parrots were initially brought to ancient Greece back in the year 385 BC, and the trade of live parrots became common practice soon thereafter. There was a well established business in the trade of exotic animals during the golden age of piracy (including parrots) as royalty in Europe was enthralled by the parrot’s ability to speak and interact with humans. The most exotic animals were considered more valuable, and we all know that pirates love anything of value that could translate into money or gold! As many pirates often idealized the lifestyle of royalty, pirates took a liking to owning an exotic animal since it was considered a status symbol of the wealthy. Plus, a parrot’s naturally easy going social behavior made it a good companion to pass those lonely days on the open water. Parrot’s have an innate ability to learn tricks, speak and interact with humans which is unusual for most birds, so they became even more popular and sought after.
Some historians believe that cats and dogs also joined pirates on their adventures on the open seas in addition to parrots. As cats and dogs have been living amongst humans for thousands of years, and it is likely they served the same purpose to pirates as they do today in modern times. Cats and dogs have long been a great companion for humans, and while on board they could help eat any unwanted mice that could threaten precious food supplies on board. A good mouser cat on a sailing ship would have been very important to help prevent loss of food rations that would be impossible to replace until the ship reached dry land. In addition, it is common knowledge that pirates were very superstitious and some seaman actually considered a black cat on board to be good luck. Legend was that as long as the cat was well fed and kept safe from harm, nothing would happen to the ship. On the flip side, there was a belief that if a cat was thrown overboard, a bad storm would soon form which meant bad luck was on its way.
Credit : Pirate Ship Vallarta
Picture Credit : Google