Peacocks are one of the most strikingly beautiful animals on the planet and are famous for their iridescently colourful feathers that make up some 60% of their total length. Peacocks are large birds with a 1.5m wingspan, and they surely need a large dose of nutrients to keep their plumage in check, so what do peacocks eat?
Peacocks are non-fussy omnivores and will eat most plant foods such as seeds, grains, berries, vegetables and fruits as well as insects, arthropods, small lizards, snakes, frogs and rodents. They require a high-protein diet to keep their feathers healthy and generally have strong appetites.
A pair of peacocks foraging for food on the ground
There are three species of peacocks; the Indian peafowl, Green peafowl and Congo peafowl. The word peacock refers to a male peafowl from any of those species, whereas peahens are female peafowl. Peacocks are best known for their famously impressive plumage. Not only are the feathers themselves extremely long, but the colours are exceptionally bright and iridescent. Peafowl are ground roaming birds, and though they’re perfectly able to fly, they can’t fly long distances.
Instead, peafowl much much prefer walking, which is why they’re pretty easy to train to not fly off when kept as pets. They forage most of their food from the ground, too, and as large birds, peacocks require substantial and diverse diets.
Read on to find out more about what peacocks eat and other interesting facts about peacock diets!
Peacocks - male peafowl - are omnivores and are not known to be fussy eaters. With their short, sharp and powerful beaks, peacocks can hunt a variety of small animals including lizards, snakes and rodents. They’ll also hunt and eat arthropods such as centipedes, millipedes and scorpions as well as all manner of insects. Berries, seeds, grains, plants and flower petals are all readily consumed by peafowl.
Maintaining all of that plumage requires some serious energy and nutrition, hence why peacocks require a high-protein diet that includes meat, primarily from insects. Whilst small insects are consumed readily by any wild peafowl, they aren’t afraid of hunting and killing small snakes, rodents, arthropods and frogs.
A male Green Peafowl foraging in the wild
The most important features of a peacock’s diet are nutrient diversity and quality. These are not simple birds, and they’re relatively large too, which means that their dietary requirements are pretty demanding. Legumes and vegetables are a firm favourite of peacocks who will happily munch upon ample beans, peas and leafy greens.
Berries and fruit provide a sweet dose of vitamins, whereas meat such as dried mealworms and larvae is also essential for added protein. Whilst it’s generally not necessary to feed a captively bred peacock rodents, amphibians and lizards, they will eat meat kitchen scraps.
Peacocks have a stable diet all year round as they don’t migrate or stray too far from their territories, so long as they feel safe. Plenty of nutritious protein-rich foods keep peacocks at their healthiest. Peafowl are hardier than people tend to think they are, but they still need to be kept warm and well-fed in colder winter climates.
A peacock during the winter
Since they spend a lot of time foraging on the ground, peacocks are wary of any predators that share their territories, including snakes. With their short, powerful beaks and large, sharp talons, they’re very capable of killing snakes.
In fact, in India and Sri Lanka, peacocks are used for King Cobra pest control! Peacocks aren’t pushovers in the wild - they have to survive some quite perilous conditions in their Southeast Asian, Central American and Central African jungle habitats.
Despite looking very well-to-do and prim-and-proper, peacocks are quite aggressive and are ready and willing to fight, especially when something or someone threatens their young. They can deliver a nasty peck with their strong necks and have powerful talons for defence, digging, foraging, and gripping snakes and other animals whilst they eat them.
They certainly can, if they can catch them, that is. Peacocks are non-fussy omnivores and will eat pretty much whatever they can get their beaks into, including rodents. Rats are agile and tend to be alert to danger, but if they did find themselves face to face with a peacock, then you’d fancy this large bird to have the upper hand!
Peacocks will eat from your hand
Bread is not strictly bad for birds, but it’s also not particularly good for them either. If birds are overfed on bread, then they’ll not be encouraged to consume the more nutrient-rich foods that they need to be healthy - not too dissimilar to humans then! Peacocks certainly need a protein-dense, nutrient-rich diet. Since they aren’t fussy eaters, they’ll probably appreciate a wide choice of food that changes throughout the week.
Baby peacocks - or peachicks - are weaned by their mothers until they’re able to forage themselves. They’ll probably choose softer food whilst they’re still growing and avoid confronting and eating snakes, lizards and larger insects until they’re a bit bigger.
In captivity, peachicks are often fed game bird mixes, as peafowl are from the same family as many game birds such as pheasants. Peachicks are omnivores from the outset and will likely consume a lot of soft insects such as larvae and ants. Peachicks grow fairly quickly and are quite large when they hatch, about the size of a fully-grown quail, but they’ll take over 2 years to reach maturity. Peacock feathers can take some 4 years to fully grow.
Baby peacocks (peachicks) foraging for food
Peacocks are omnivores and certainly eat meat. Meat provides the peacock with the protein-rich diet it requires to maintain its magnificent plumage. The meat staple of a peacock’s diet is insects but they’ll quite happily eat small lizards, rodents and frogs.
Peacocks, like other birds, only ever need to drink water. Birds that consume vast quantities of insects or other water-rich foods don’t need to drink much, if at all. Peacocks are quite large birds, though, so they will need their own clean water supply as they won’t stay adequately hydrated from their food alone.
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