The unsustainable use of wildlife increases the risk of species extinction. In biodiversity-rich Indonesia, information on the scale of wildlife use is limited and requires further study. To address this, we explored the potential of text messaging (short message service; SMS) surveys to investigate levels and spatial patterns of domestic wildlife use, using songbird keeping and shark consumption as case studies because of their widespread occurrence in all 34 Indonesian provinces. We sent 340,000 messages for each survey during October–November 2018 and incentivized responses with a mobile data package as reward. We obtained survey response rates of 1.4% (songbird ownership) and 1.5% (shark consumption). Our results revealed an estimated 175.7 million songbirds being kept by 35% (80.4–86.6 million) of the Indonesian population and 33.5 million people (14% of the Indonesian population) to have consumed shark products in their lifetime. We identified hotspots of songbird ownership in several provinces in Java, corroborating previous findings, and new ones in the North Sumatra province, for example. The provinces of Maluku, Aceh and East Nusa Tenggara had the highest numbers of reported shark consumers per 1,000 people. Responses indicated a wide variety of shark products being consumed, highlighting the need for in-depth research to understand the explanatory factors behind these practices. These findings demonstrate the potential of SMS surveys to be a cost-effective approach for conducting large-scale studies on wildlife consumption patterns over a short period of time.