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Viking Pets – a Menagerie of Animals by Rob Shackleford

Viking Pets – A Menagerie of Animals by Rob Shackleford

Why Vikings?

Who Were the Vikings?

What did Vikings Look Like?

Viking Ginger Connection

Vikings Loved Bling Part 1

Viking Hygiene

Viking Clothes – Looking Good!

Viking Men’s wear

Viking Women’s Wear

Vikings Loved Bling Part 1

Viking Jewellery Part 2

Inked Up – Vikings and Tattoos

Were Vikings Inked?  Part 2

Viking Health

Viking Teeth

Viking Medicine

Vikings at Home Viking Society Viking Thralls Viking Karls
Viking Jarls Viking Women Part 1 Viking Women Part 2 Viking Women Part 3 Viking Villages and Towns
Viking Fortresses Vikings and Cats Vikings Loved Dogs

Vikings weren’t just dog or cat people. Bears, hawks, and falcons were also kept by the Vikings as pets.

Viking pets included hawks and bears by Rob Shackleford
Bart the tame bear

Bears were fairly common pets but hawks and falcons were rare and expensive, being imported from other parts of Europe, so were only kept by nobility and wealthy merchants. The same was true of peacocks. Brown bear cubs would be taken when young and raised by the people of a home to be fully domesticated.

Viking pets included hawks and bears by Rob Shackleford

You did not even have to be rich to own a brown bear (Ursus arctos) as a pet, they were rather common and were then known as “house bears”. In time, these bears became more of a nuisance than anything else and importing them to Iceland was forbidden by law.

Large fines were levied on people who allowed their house bear to get loose and damage someone else’s property. Wild bears were sacrificed just as dogs, horses, and other animals but it seems house bears were given a burial. Prior to interment, the bear was eaten and only its bones were placed in the grave.

Whether this practice applied only to house bears or bears in general is unknown.

Polar bears were also domesticated and scholar Sveinbjorn Rafnsson notes how Norse settlements in Iceland and Greenland were able to export exotic valuables to Europe, including the polar bear.

Viking pets included hawks and bears by Rob Shackleford

People of the upper class such as Kings and the very rich people preferred to have a polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as their house pet. The polar bears started to arrive on the shores of Scandinavia in the 9th century. It was Ingimund the old who brought the very first polar bear to Europe, and he gave the polar bear as a gift to the King of Norway.

Whether the Norse domesticated other wild animals as pets is unknown but certainly possible.

However there is no evidence of the domestication of wolves by Vikings. There are a few tales of Norsemen transforming into wolves through magical means or by wearing animal furs, but there is no mention of Norsemen keeping wolves as pets in the sagas.

About the author:

Hi, I’m Rob Shackleford. I am author of a number of novels, though so far only Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo have been officially published. As Traveller Inceptio looks at the fates of modern historical researchers sent to the early 11th Century Saxon world, Vikings do feature.

Below are the Amazon links for the two novels so far.

In reading my novels, I ask if you wouldn’t mind posting a review and, perhaps, a picture of yourself with my book – either paperback or on kindle. Link to me on Social Media. I most welcome your comments and images.

I hope you enjoy.

Rob Shackleford Traveller Inceptio - a novel by Rob Shackleford Traveller Probo - Book 2 of the Traveller Series by author Rob Shackleford

Check out my web site at

In my vain attempt to attract attention and promote my books – please check out my brief skit video:

I have other Blogs about:

Short Stories

Rob Shackleford - The Coin short story

Travelling New ZealandRob Shackleford and Deborah-Jane Mackay Travelling with Traveller Inceptio on Brecon Beacons Travelling the UKRob Shackleford and Deborah-Jane Mackay house sit Anglesey in Wales India by Royal EnfieldShacklefords ride India - Royal Enfield Bullet

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