Peacocks are among the most beautiful birds in the world! They are known for their long, colorful, and extraordinarily patterned feathers! Did you know that they are often kept in captivity or as pets? Caring for these incredible birds may be difficult if the carers don’t know enough about their anatomy, behavior, and diet. What if we told you poop could say a lot about a peacock’s health?
Let’s take a closer look at what peacocks are, what and how they eat, and what their poop looks like! As a bonus point, we’ll share some fascinating peacock facts that will blow your mind!
What are peacocks?
There are three peafowl species, each with its color pattern. Before going into more details about peacock color variation, it’s worth mentioning that female peacocks have a neutral plumage that lacks detailed tail feathers. Male peacocks have a much more vibrant plumage color pattern.
One species is called the blue or the Indian peafowl. It is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is vibrant blue, with a large tail covered in eye-like spots. These spots resemble the beans with blue eyes added on bracelets worn for spiritual protection. These spots on the peacock’s plumage are called ocelli.
Another peacock species is the green peafowl of Southeast Asia. Its plumage is similar to that of a blue peacock.
The last and the only African species is called the Congo peafowl. This bird is native to the Congo Basin. Congo peafowls are somewhat different from the Asian species, as they are significantly smaller and of brown or grayish colors.
There are also hybrids between the Indian and green peafowl. These are called “Spaldings.”
These color patterns are the most common but not the only ones. Peafowl can have unique patterns, such as:
- Solid-wing pattern
- White-eye pattern (when the ocelli don’t have a black but a white spot).
Other color variations include purple, opal, charcoal, taupe, peach, and jade.
What do peacocks eat?
Peacocks are omnivorous animals. They are opportunistic eaters, so they’ll eat almost anything. However, they prefer grains, seeds, leaves, insects, or worms. They can feed on cooked food in captivity, such as bread or rice.
Here’s a list of what peacocks eat:
- Grains, such as oats and corn
- Insects, such as crickets or cicadas
- Small reptiles, such as small snakes and lizards
- Small mammals, such as mice
- Cooked rice
How do peacocks digest the food?
Like other birds, peacocks have two stomachs. One is called the proventriculus, and the other is called the gizzard. The gizzard helps grind the food, while the proventriculus is extremely acidic and helps digest the food. Peacocks often swallow pebbles stored in their gizzard to sustain the digestive process. The pebbles help grind the tough pieces of food.
Because peacocks are opportunistic eaters, they’ll eat almost anything they stumble upon. This behavior is associated with death caused by ingesting “foreign bodies” that end up in the proventriculus. These foreign bodies make the birds lethargic, dull, and anorexic, eventually causing their death.
What does peacock poop look like?
Peacock poop can be of various forms, sizes, and textures. This depends on what they’ve eaten. The poop can be brown, black, dry, tough, or soft. Healthy peafowl poop may have several white spots. Their droppings don’t have a specific standard form – they can be round, oval, sausage-shaped, or bean-shaped.
Poop says a lot about a peacock’s health. If it is watery, white, yellow, green, reddish, or has other weird markings and things, it means the peacock has parasites or other diseases. Moreover, the parasites can sometimes be spotted in peacock poop. In this case, the animal should be taken to the veterinarian immediately!
Is peacock poop poisonous to dogs?
If a dog eats peacock poop, you shouldn’t be too concerned, especially if the peacock is held in captivity and taken good care of. However, it’s advisable to either check with your vet or, if it’s not possible, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and its feces because peacock poop may sometimes contain bacteria and worms that can affect your dog’s health.
A study based on 258 peafowl fecal samples showed that adolescent peafowls were prone to carrying Cryptosporidium spp., a microscopic parasite that causes the cryptosporidiosis disease, and E. bieneusi, which can cause severe or chronic diarrhea. However, suppose you know that the veterinarian regularly checks the peacock. In that case, you shouldn’t be too worried, as the risk of their poop being infected with Cryptosporidium spp. and E. bieneusi is low.
Another study based on 143 peafowl fecal specimens showed that 50 tested positive for Blastocystis, a parasite colonizing human and animal intestines. The risk of your dog getting Blastocystis after eating peacock poop is higher.
Incredible peacock facts
- Peacocks are known to eat young cobras. In Sanskrit, their name means “killer of snakes.”
- Peacocks are not born with colorful feathers. It takes approximately three years for a peacock to get its natural feather colors. That’s the time when they become sexually mature.
- Peacock males use their incredible feathers to find a mate and “conquer” it! That’s why their colors are fully visible when they become sexually mature.
- Peacocks can be completely white! Imagine what an angelic beauty! These birds have leucism, which is a genetic mutation that causes pigment loss. These peacocks are born yellow and become white over the years.
- Since the peafowl is native to India, it has great cultural significance there. In Persia and Babylonia, it is considered the guardian of royalty. Moreover, this animal symbolizes immortality in Greek mythology because it doesn’t decay after death.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Anna_Brothankova
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