Recent reports of peacocks attacking humans have caused a lot of people to ask the question: are peacocks aggressive by nature, or was it the fault of the human involved? We look deeper in this article.
There are over 100,000 peacocks in the world. While these beautiful birds with shimmering feathers are native to South Asia (especially India) and central Africa, they have a burgeoning population in Florida as well.
Peacocks are territorial and aggressive birds. There are many instances of them attacking animals and even humans.
We will explore why they can become aggressive, how to keep them calm and some tips to follow if you want to keep them as pets.
Are Peacocks Dangerous?
Yes, peacocks are aggressive and dangerous birds. Despite their beautiful feathers and enticing dance during mating season, it is best to maintain a safe distance from them.
Peacocks are one of the largest species of birds. They can stand up to four feet tall. They are territorial birds with sharp talons and beaks. They fight for food and are protective of their eggs.
Here’s a video depicting how peacocks may attack if you try to touch their eggs:
There are many instances of peacocks showing aggression. They can fly, attack, and have many times taken away food from the hands of unsuspecting humans at zoos.
In fact, some zoos have decided to keep their peacock population in check for this reason.
How Dangerous Can They Be?
Peacocks can stand up straight and up to four feet in height, which gives them an advantage when attacking as compared to other animals like dogs.
They may not have teeth that are as sharp as a dog, but they can peck, scratch and use their flight to jump on their victim. They are strong and can push a person down if they try.
Do They Attack Humans?
Yes, peacocks do attack humans at times. We already talked about their attacks on humans in zoos. Apart from attacking humans, they also attack and eat and destroy crops in fields.
There have been several instances of them attacking cars in British Columbia, Southeast England, and other places
Can they kill humans?
Normally, a peacock would not have the strength to do it, however, there was one freak instance where a peacock was able to kill its owner.
Peacock beaks and talons are sharp, but it’s still difficult for them to kill a human simply by piercing their skin. They do not have teeth, so they cannot bite like a dog.
They weigh about 9-10 pounds, and when they stand straight, they can be imposing up close. However, it’s still not enough to push over a human or hurt them badly, since an average human weighs 130 pounds.
Are They Dangerous to Dogs or Chickens?
Larger animals like chickens and dogs are probably safe around peafowl. The same goes for goats, sheep, and horses.
That said, if a dog or chicken got too close to the peafowl’s nest, they would probably attack.
Peacocks are omnivores. They can eat insects, other birds, and small animals like rodents. Peacocks can even kill snakes. There are several instances where they have hunted and eaten snakes.
On the other hand, if you have a cat around your farm, it is best to keep it away from peafowl babies, because cats will attack them.
Why do they attack?
There are a few things that can irritate peacocks and cause them to attack:
- Invading their space and standing too close
- Trying to pluck their feathers or pet them like other farm animals
- Getting too close to their nest, especially if they have laid eggs
- They are more aggressive than usual during mating season
Lets us understand these in more detail.
They Are Territorial
Peacocks take pride in their territory, just like they do in their feathers. If you are approaching a peacock, be sure to move slowly and not make sudden moves.
It is best not to feed a peacock even in a zoo. They will see you coming too close as a sign of aggression, or sometimes try to snatch food from your hands if they become impatient.
If you feel that the peacock is showing signs of aggression (we will discuss some of these later), step back. Slowly move away without causing any alarm.
They Protect Their Eggs
During the early years of their lives (up to the fourth year), peahens lay very few eggs. Even afterward, they lay only 5-9 eggs a year. So they are very protective of their eggs.
Try not to go near their nest because they will become nervous and feel threatened. Since peacocks are protective, you won’t find them wandering too far off their nest. It is hard to reach their eggs at all.
Stay Away During Mating Season
Like most other animals and birds, the mating season is a time when hormones are impacting their behavior.
Approaching peacocks when they are showing off their trains because they are likely in their mating season. Be especially mindful of male peacocks during mating.
Just like us, they don’t like others disturbing them when they are wooing a female!
Don’t Pluck Feathers or Try to be Too Friendly
People sometimes think of peacocks as friendly birds, but the fact is peacocks are not particularly friendly.
They can construe you coming too close, trying to touch their feathers or pluck them, and trying to pet them as aggressive behavior. Peacocks may attack in such situations.
It is best to keep small children away from them because peacocks will think of them as easy targets.
How to Tell if a Peacock Is About to Attack?
Please keep a strict vigil for these signs when approaching a peacock:
- If the peacock starts to move towards you or starts tilting its head, it is a sign of aggression
- Peacocks also make a low, growling sound. They can also strut their feathers.
- Peacocks can also run towards you or try to jump on you if they are close enough.
If you find a peacock exhibiting any of these signs, back off. However, make sure not to run or take your eyes off them.
How to Keep a Peacock From Becoming Aggressive?
It is important to make sure that you keep your peacocks calm and controlled at all times.
Apart from ensuring that you don’t do any of the things mentioned in the previous sections, here are a few things that can keep them happy:
- Give them lots of space. They love to roam around, so make sure that they are in a large, open space. You can cover their pen if you fear them flying away.
- Make sure none of their predators or large animals approach their pen.
- Give them lots of mixed grains for food and plenty of water. A full peacock is a happy peacock.
- If they seem to be in pain or are dull and unresponsive, take them to an avian vet.
Can You Keep Them As Pets?
There are a few things to take care of if you plan to keep peacocks. Their hygiene, covering their pen, and keeping children away are important things to remember
Peacock droppings need to be cleaned regularly as they can cause salmonella poisoning. Regular cleaning also keeps their pens neat and clean.
Peacock droppings are a good source of fertilizer, but make sure to wear boots and gloves when spreading them. You should change these immediately after spreading the droppings.
Keeping them enclosed
While peacocks love to roam around and should be given lots of space to move, they can also fly away from their pen.
While they cannot fly long distances, they can fly over fences. You would need to cover their pen so that they cannot fly out, or else put in high fencing.
Children are not safe around them
Children are prone to make sudden movements and can try to come too close to peacocks just to see them up close.
As we mentioned before, peacocks don’t like this behavior. Therefore it is best that you keep children away as far as possible from their pens.
Tips For Keeping Them as Pets
If you intend to keep a pet peacock, it’s best that you get them on your farm early on. Moreover, peacocks are not very friendly, so make sure that you don’t treat them like other pets.
While peacocks are temperamental, the longer they see you around, the more likely they are to get accustomed to you and to know that you are not dangerous.
You can typically get a peachick at about the third month. At that age, their feathers are yellow.
Don’t treat them like other animals
Be mindful that peacocks are not friendly. You cannot treat them like a pet dog or cat. They don’t like to be petted or even touched too often.
Peacocks cannot be cooped up for long, and can also be pretty noisy at night. You will have to make arrangements so that they don’t disturb the neighbors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are peacocks afraid of?
Peacocks are wary of dogs. They don’t like water and certain types of repellants and mothballs.
Will peacocks attack cats?
Adult peafowls are typically much bigger than cats, so they don’t care for engaging with them. Cats do however attack and even kill peachicks.
Why do farmers keep peacocks?
Peacocks eat a variety of rodents and insects. They are known to eat snakes and can keep snakes away from your farm.
Will peacocks ruin your garden?
Yes, peacocks tend to attack and eat tender seedlings and plants
Peacocks are aggressive, territorial, and prefer to be left alone. While you can keep them as pets, they are not like dogs or cats. They won’t like you coming too close or trying to pet them.