Peacocks as Pets: Guidelines and Tips
Peafowl are commonly known as peacocks, although that is actually the name for only the male of the species. Females are peahens. Differences between male and female peafowl are quite obvious as they display strong sexual dimorphism. Males have beautiful bright blue and green tail feathers, whereas females are not as bright. There are actually three different species of peafowl, the blue or Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus), the green or Java peafowl (Pavo muticus) and the Congo peafowl (Afropavo congensis). Peafowl have been kept in gardens and parks by humans for centuries, and like all animals they require specific care if you want them to stay healthy and happy.
Regardless of which one is your favorite, in this AnimalWised article we'll go over some guidelines and tips you should consider if you want to keep peacocks as pets.
Can you keep green peacocks as pets?
Green or Java peafowl are native to Southeast Asia, including the island of Java. It is recognizable for its bright green, blue and bronze feathers; unlike in the case of blue peafowl, male and female green peafowl look quite similar.
The wild green peafowl lives in tropical forests, and as a species they do not respond well to the cold, so we recommend much thought and consideration before researching how to adopt one. This species can be more aggressive than the blue peacock, and in captivity males must be kept separate on account of their fighting spurs.
Due to habitat destruction, the green peacock is an endangered species. As such, we don't recommend keeping them as pets at all. In fact, you should check your country's legislation to ensure you're not taking part in illegal animal trade.
Here you can learn more about where do peacocks live.
Can you keep blue peacocks as pets?
The blue or Indian peafowl can be seen all around the world, as it has been introduced to many countries to decorate parks and gardens. This peacock has its origins in the Indian subcontinent, and it is India's national bird.
If you want to keep peacocks as pets, this is the species for you. The blue peafowl adapts to colder countries, and it's tamer and less aggressive than its green cousin. Blue peafowl are about 100 cm (40 in) long, and males have a long tail of up to 2.25 m (90 in). Both sexes have crests; the female's is brown, while the male's is greenish blue.
There are color variations of the Indian or blue peafowl, including the white, black-winged or black-shouldered and pied varieties.
Another problem is that peacocks can become aggressive, especially during mating season. They are very territorial and may attack. While a healthy adult should be able to evade them easily, small children can be seriously harmed. Peahen are very protective of theirs and will attack if they think someone is trying to invade their nest.
Where can you keep peafowl safely?
Coyotes, dogs, and foxes are the chief concern for people who keep free-ranging peacocks and peahens. Tree houses are the best bet if you want to shield these animals from predators. A hen house is also a good idea, though care should be taken to safeguard the hen and the eggs. Peafowl require a large area to roam about, so you will need to provide plenty of space if you want to keep peacocks as pets.
These birds can be adventurous, and to nip the wandering spirit at its bud it may be beneficial to feed them larger amounts of food at night so that they return. Underfeeding is another problem whereby peafowl may look for food elsewhere and alarm neighbors, so make sure your bird is well fed.
What kind of housing do peafowl need?
A minimum of 25 square m (80 square ft) per bird is essential to prevent disease, fights or injuries to the birds. For a male peacock, you need a pen that is large enough for him to display his feathers without harm or injury. Domestic peafowl should be kept in pens at least 2.5 m (7 ft 10 in) in height or more, as they should be able to fly and fan their tails with ease. The loud shrill cry of the peacock can be disruptive to neighbors unless you have a large pen for the bird spanning acres.
The best place to keep peafowl is in a wooden shelter, as in a barn or a snug shed. The roosting or nesting area should have warming light and a straw bed. Wooden roosts are the best choice to keep the birds from the cold in low temperatures. Muddy or wet conditions can cause tail feathers to break or even cause diseases.
Chicken wire can keep peafowl safe from predators and secure their freedom too. The entire pen should be safeguarded not only against raccoons and foxes but smaller pests as well. This is one of the most important aspects of keeping peacocks as pets. If you don't have the space, you will need to think of another animal to adopt. They cannot be kept indoors.
What temperatures do peafowl need?
Peafowl are hardy creatures that can withstand extremes of temperature from the torrid Indian heat to the dropping temperatures of American northwest. However, be sure to protect your pet peacock from the cold, especially if it was bred in a tropical climate.
If you are raising peafowl chicks, make sure you keep them in a heated area for 4 to 6 weeks after hatching. Keep the temperature over 35º C (95º F) and lower temperature by about 2º C (5º F) every week. Check your pet peafowl's body language to see if they are comfortable.
What is the best diet for peafowl?
Always keep fresh water for your peafowl; you can use a trough hanging from a roost as long as it's low enough for them to reach. For younger peafowl, use shallower water troughs to prevent accidental drowning. For the peafowl's food, use hanging dishes to prevent mice from eating the grain.
Adult peafowl should be fed two handfuls of mixed grain every day. Feed stores stock grain mixtures for peafowl, and you can also use game bird feed, such as that given to turkeys, chickens or pheasants. This should incorporate half or two thirds of their diet. Most pet stores will not have this feed available, something else we need to consider when keeping peacocks as pets.
5 to 10% of a domestic peafowl's diet should be peanuts or sunflower seeds. Supplement this diet with green vegetables like cabbage and kale, and give your pet peafowl bread or fruit as a treat. Never give peafowl bones, as they may choke. Here you can learn more about the dietary habits of peacocks.
Worming peafowl is essential to keep them healthy. Use diatomaceous earth with the food or a herbal worming product for best results.
Peafowl chicks should stay at least two months with their mother, but if you're raising orphaned chicks you can use baby bird formulas. Their diet should be high in protein for at least three months. As they get older, protein content should be lowered or your pet peafowl may develop leg problems.
What specific care do peafowl chicks need?
Caring for a pet peafowl's chicks is similar to caring for young chickens. Peafowl chicks must be placed in a brooder till their feathers appear. Use a covered shelter, and ensure that the chicks are not mixed with the adults until they have matured. We might think keeping peacocks as pets is easy when they are chicks, but remember they can grow to be a very large size for a bird.
Peafowl chicks should have access to feed and clean water. This is something you need to consider when feeding any type of baby chick.
Caring for a pet peacock's health
Health check-ups are very important when you adopt a pet peacock, and preventing common illnesses is essential. You will have to deworm your peafowl once every two months; widespread deworming products include:
- Ivermectin cattle wormer
Check for external parasites, such as lice, mites, and chiggers. Poultry tends to suffer from infections caused by protozoan single-celled organisms such as coccidiosis, histomoniasis, and leucocytozoonosis. Some infections impact the white blood cells, which can cause anemia.
There is no established vaccine schedule for peafowl, as they are not popular pets or farm animals. Avian pox is a concern, as is blackhead disease. Always ask your vet for advice on how to prevent and treat diseases.
You can keep peacocks as pets, as long as you routinely check all aspects of their care, from the state of the bird's coat and feathers to their digestion. You must ensure that your pet peafowl remains a healthy, happy bird from the inside out.
While many people keep peacocks as pets, they are not tame animals. They can attack and will not likely enjoy interaction. These are only some of the issues concerned with keeping wild animals as pets, something we explain further in the video below:
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