Jana worked in animal welfare with abused and unwanted pets. She loves sharing her hands-on experience regarding domestic and wild critters.
Do Peacocks Make Good Pets?
Peafowl allow physical contact with their human parents but often this is more about being tame than exchanging affection. They've been kept since ancient times as domesticated pets, but aren't suitable as pets in the traditional sense. It cannot be house trained, will fail obedience school on the first day and will easily move on to your neighbour's farm if the food is better there.
That peacock owners love their birds isn't in question. There are limitations, however, to how much a peacock can give you in return. That being said, it's very rewarding to cater to peafowl's natural instincts and needs. When these are met, the birds blossom and there's nothing more satisfying than watching a healthy flock browsing the garden.
Peacocks and Peahens: A Bunch of Peas
Technically, only the male is called a peacock. The female is a peahen. When referring to the species, one might exclaim, “My, those peafowl over there are really stunning!” Did you know that a bunch of these birds together can be called several different things? Collective nouns include a muster, an ostentation, a pride or a party of peacocks.
Why Neighbours Hate Peacocks
It's never really a good idea to keep one of these birds in a suburban area. They need a lot of space, can get over walls (despite the myth that they can't fly), and are very capable of causing damage to neighbours' property. Peacocks also issue loud, shrill calls that increase during mating season. When it's your own pet, hearing it hoot may not be a bother. However, it won't be acceptable for neighbours cramming for a test or trying to get the baby to nap. It's imperative to check your area's by-laws concerning peafowl. In some places, no laws exist, but in other countries or states, they are considered a nuisance in the urban sector and may not be kept.
How to Care for a Peacock
A happy peafowl is one that's allowed to roam. The best setting is rural and it depends on safety factors whether these birds are permanently kept in pens. If living in an area where there are predators capable of jumping a large, clumsy bird, then pens are safest. They must have adequate space in order to avoid causing cage stress or damage to the bird's body. Even free-range peacocks need shelter against the elements. A general rule is to make a shelter big enough so that the bird—tail and all—can make a comfortable turn.
How to Keep Peacocks and Peahens
A single bird can be kept and will mostly get along with other fowl such as chickens and turkeys. For this reason, it makes a beautiful addition to any farm or homestead. However, a single bird's not always ideal. Peafowl thrive with their own kind.
When deciding to keep more than one, experienced keepers might suggest you don't make them all male. In fact, it's often best to restrict the party to a single male and a few hens. This is sad news because let's face it, the boys are the pretty ones! What's more beautiful than having four (or ten) peacocks fanning their magnificent tails all over the garden? The problem with male peacocks is that they're territorial, and they compete for the ladies. Peacocks can and will fight each other. Peahens are less aggressive and peacefully co-exist.
What Do Peacocks Eat?
The good news is that peafowl will eat almost anything. This doesn't mean that their diet can be a slap-dash affair. These birds require a lot of protein in order to maintain health, growth and their feathers. As omnivores, they eat grains, green vegetables, seeds, chicken feed as well as more “meaty” things like worms, grubs and bugs—natural browsing is a favourite activity. A game bird feed mix can also be given. Fresh water needs to be available at all times.
Become an Expert
Should you fall in love with the idea of keeping your own muster of peafowl, then don't settle for the basics. Learn everything on the subject before buying your first peachick. Teach yourself how to raise a baby, follow the laws in your area and the neighbours must be taken into account. Expand your knowledge on what shelter, diet and safety measures must be maintained. Educate yourself about peacock first-aid, diseases and common injuries.
Unfortunately, it's not a good idea to obtain this pet and learn as you go. The peacock is an exotic species. A first-time owner must arrive with knowledge, a suitable environment, be able to carry expenses and a certainty of lifetime care. Peacocks have incredible longevity and have hit the half-century mark in captivity. Even in the wild, they can easily grow as old as twenty years.
Did You Know?
- Male peacocks produce infrasound with their tails, likely to communicate territorial boundaries with other males and charm the females. The sound is inaudible to humans
- Peafowl fight snakes
- There are three species—the green, Indian and Congo peafowl
- A genetic mutation called leucism is responsible for all-white peacocks, but they are not albinos
Questions & Answers
Question: Is it true that peacocks have an instinctive connection to the area where they hatched?
Answer: They do not have an instinctive connection with their birthplace. Peacocks do not migrate like other bird species that feel the urge to return to their hatching or nesting sites. However, peafowl can grow very attached to the place where it lives, whether it was born there or not. An interesting point regarding connections that this species might feel; there is plenty of evidence that they imprint on humans. Imprinting in birds is an instinctive behavior that "tells" a baby bird that the first thing it sees upon hatching is its mother.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit
Linda on July 22, 2020:
Would you kindly tell me exactly how much attention peafowl need - feeding, vets etc.
What natural food can they survive on instead of subsidising on bought feed?
Our property is 3.5 acres (1.2Ha), on a panhandle block. The neighbours houses are situated well before the start of our 120 metre long driveway. Our house is set back even further from the end of the driveway (a total of about 150m from the start). From the house the garden fans out and flows down to the creek and bushland (on both sides of the property).The peafowl will be housed at night, at the far extreme of the property. My concern is that "they tend to roam" and could peck the neighbours cars or other items? Are they known to be destructive in gardens? I would like to hand rear chicks, and have heard that it is impossible to sex them when little? I was also under the impression that hand reared fowl would be more inclined to "stay at home"?
Would peafowl need someone to look after them when we go away on holiday? I really fancy the idea of a beautiful bird sanctuary, however, I would like to be responsible about this decision.
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on June 28, 2020:
Hi Tracy. It's a bit hard to say. Each peafowl is different but the important thing is to make sure that they get used to their home or resting place, and that they know that they'll get food from you. Then they'll stick around. My grandmother had peafowl on her farm and they never left, although I must admit, I never asked how long she kept the original ones isolated to keep them from leaving.
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on June 28, 2020:
It's fairly normal to drop tail feathers but keep an eye on the situation. When the loss becomes too much or you're worried, please consult a vet with experience in birds.
Tracy on June 20, 2020:
I have recently added a pair of peafowl to my farm. I have them in a small barn with a large screen door while they adjust. How long before I can let them roam without them leaving?
Janice Cude on June 18, 2020:
My male peacock is losing his tailfeathers. Is this normal? Two
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on May 03, 2020:
Hi there, the best is to take the peacock to a vet. It sounds like a condition known as bumblefoot, but I can be wrong. It's important to get him treatment as soon as you can because a severe infection might damage the foot (or worse).
Akhil on April 22, 2020:
I saw a peacock today and it was suffering with some sort of swelling on its left leg and was unable to walk properly.
Please suggest me on to whom I reach out to ? So that someone can help this cute bird.
For pics of peacock and it’s details, please free to reach out to me.
Arcadia, LA, California.
Cassandra on February 21, 2020:
Can you keep different varieties of peacocks together?
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on October 23, 2019:
Hi Tara. This really depends on where you live. A permit could indeed be necessary, especially should you live in a suburban area. However, most rural areas are less strict. Have a look at your regional laws and you'll find out. Peacocks can be listed within regulations as poultry but most municipalities consider them as "exotic" pets.
Tara boughton on October 20, 2019:
Hi do you need a permit/license to have a peacock?
Sohail anmol on July 24, 2019:
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on December 28, 2018:
Thanks for sharing Jayden. Yes, your grandmother's farm and others like it usually is the best place for a peacock. :)
Jayden lee on December 27, 2018:
My grandma use to have a farm it was small with goats sheep chickens ducks geese guinea fowls pheasants and peacocks and a barn. My grandma's name is kathie ann chumra.
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on December 08, 2018:
Thanks, Teresa! Making an informed decision about a pet is what makes ownership responsible and enjoyable for both human and animal (or bird). :)
Teresa on December 08, 2018:
This was very interesting. I knew nothing about peacocks other than they are beautiful. Now I know I don't want to be responsible for one and should leave it to the experts.
Thank you for the article!!
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on August 12, 2018:
Hi Ellison, my mother also used to visit a farm as a child where her aunt kept peacocks and she said they were beautiful but too loud! :)
Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on August 07, 2018:
Loved this article. You hit all the main points that i think most people wouldnt already know. My farm is surrounded by a school complex and i have had complaints of how loud they are during breeding season from people spectating football games ! Just to give you an idea of how loud they can really be.