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What do peacocks eat?

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What do peacocks eat 1
Peacocks eat snakes, frogs, mice and insects.

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key point

  • Peacocks are omnivorous birds of the pheasant family.
  • They are opportunistic and will eat whatever is readily available, but their diet is usually mostly plant-based and includes some insects, worms, reptiles and mammals where possible.
  • Peacocks are excellent predators, known for being able to kill young cobras.

The male peacock is one of the most showy birds in the world. They love to show off their vibrant iridescent colors and gorgeous tail feathers that glisten in the sun for all females to see. The tail feathers appear to play a role in the courtship process. The physical characteristics of tail feathers, including their length, symmetry, and even the number of terminal "eyespots," are thought to convey important information about a male's health and vigor to potential mates. That's because they seem to require a lot of energy and nutrients to maintain properly.

The peacock is a member of the pheasant family; there are two Asian species, the Indian peacock in the Indian subcontinent and the green peafowl in Southeast Asia, and one African species, the Congo peacock. The omnivorous diets of these three animals are broadly similar, but differ in several important details. This article will cover some interesting facts about what they eat and how they get their food.

A quick note on term usage: Males are often called peacocks, while females are called peacocks. The whole group is called peacocks. However, for this article, peacocks will be used for both males and females.

What do peacocks eat?

Peacocks are best described as opportunistic omnivores. They like to eat a variety of different foods, including grains, grasses (such as bamboo), berries, leaves, figs, seeds, flowers, insects, worms, and small reptiles and mammals. They also sometimes attack cultivated crops such as tomatoes and peppers. Their diet depends only on what is available at that time according to the season and location. For example, the Congo peacock's diet was more likely to consist of oil palm and African breadfruit. In the Indian state of Gujarat, peacocks like to eat the berries of certain sea buckthorn plants. Different eating patterns can be found across the spectrum.

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Like many birds, peacocks are especially well suited to a plant-based diet. To break down food, they have a special organ called the gizzard near the digestive system. This organ helps them grind tough foods from grains and other plants. Peacocks will swallow pebbles and deposit them in gizzards to assist in the grinding process.

In the wild, peacocks are diurnal foragers. They sleep in large groups at night, usually hiding in tall open trees, and then divide into small groups to forage in the morning. They usually take a mid-day break to preen while comfortably resting in the shade before returning to feed one last time before nightfall.

During the non-breeding season, peacock foraging groups usually consist of equal numbers of males and females. Once the breeding season arrives, however, foraging teams consist of a harem with a single dominant male and multiple breeding females; other males are left to forage together in singleton groups.

Peacocks are thought to play an important ecological role by regulating the populations of snakes, lizards, insects and other common animals. This helps prevent any one animal from dominating the ecosystem.

What grains do peacocks eat?

Peacocks like to eat a variety of different grains, including oats, wheat and corn. Since they are opportunistic feeders, they are not very picky about what they eat. Peacock farmers often add to their bird diets some poultry feed designed for turkeys, chickens, etc. However, peacocks generally require more protein than other poultry, so carbohydrate-rich grains should be limited.

What do peacocks eat in the wild?

©iStock.com/AlexeyVis

Wild peacocks feed on grains, berries, leaves, insects, and other items designed to replicate their natural omnivorous diet. Peacocks in captivity can live for a long time (some reports suggest as much as 30 or 40 years), because they do not have to worry about starvation, predation, and disease. However, problems can arise if they are sedentary. Wild peacocks have to move around constantly looking for food, but in captivity they usually expect food to come to them. As a result, they may develop gout and kidney problems that shorten their lives.

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What do peacocks eat in winter?

Peacocks don't have a specific winter diet, but they sometimes cope with the changing seasons by turning to different food sources. Because wild peacocks are native to the tropics, they don't experience the same food shortages in winter as they do in temperate regions. However, for domesticated peacocks, it is recommended to increase protein intake during the cooler months.

How do peacocks eat snakes?

Peacocks seem to view snakes as a natural threat, not just a food source. As soon as these birds see a snake, they will peck and attack the snake on the ground, whether the snake is poisonous or not. They are revered for their ability to eat young cobras, so much so that their name means "snake killer" in Sanskrit (a South Asian language).

What does the little peacock eat?

Unlike many other types of birds, baby peacocks are highly mobile from the moment of birth and can forage for food on their own. They only take a week to fly. Many baby peacocks follow their mother for the first few weeks of life and eat mostly adult food. Once they learn how to forage properly, they are almost completely independent.

The Complete List of Peacock's 10 Favorite Foods

A peacock's diet is long and varied. It is difficult to list specific species. Instead, they can eat almost any type of food listed in the following categories:

  • whole grains
  • berry
  • Leaves
  • Grass
  • flower parts
  • insect
  • worm
  • snake
  • lizard
  • small mammal

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peacock with feathers spread
peacock with feathers spread

© iStock.com/Anna_Brothankova


about the author


Emily is an editor and content marketing specialist for five years. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where you can regularly encounter anything from elk to black bears to otters. Over the years, she has raised livestock, small animals, dogs, cats, and birds, and this is where she learns most of her knowledge about animals of all kinds, and what makes her a pet groomer and pet store manager. She now has three rescue cats and two high-need Pomeranian mixes to shoulder her love and attention.

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