You may have heard about certain poultry birds like chickens, guineafowls, and pheasants eating snakes. Then you see a peacock, and you might wonder if they can do the same.
Do peacocks eat snakes? Peacocks do eat snakes. Peacocks have an aversion to snakes and small reptiles generally so they will attack snakes when they can. If they kill such snake, they might eat it. At first, it might seem odd that peacocks eat snakes. However, the fact that many other poultry birds do the same makes it less strange.
Knowing that some snakes can be venomous, you might be wondering what happens if a peacock eats a poisonous snake. We will discuss this and much more in the rest of this article.
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Do Peacocks Eat Snakes?
Peacocks do eat snakes. They strongly dislike the slithering reptiles. So, anytime one shows up in their territory, they will attack it.
Typically, while trying to harm a snake, a peacock will grab it by the neck and shake it violently until it dies. Once the snake is finished off, the peacock may then decide to eat it.
The act of eating snakes is called ophiophagy. Thus, peacocks are ophiophagous birds.
Do Peacocks Keep Snakes Away?
Peacocks do keep snakes away. They just never want any snake in their territory. So, if one comes around, they will deal with it accordingly.
In India, particularly ancient India, the Rajas raised peacocks in their palaces. This was their way of keeping cobras away and killing them. In fact, the Indian name for peacocks, Mayura (meaning the killer of snakes), epitomizes their snake repellent habits.
Do They Eat Poisonous Snakes?
Peacocks eat poisonous snakes. As stated above, they were raised by Rajas to fend off and kill cobras. Of course, cobras are venomous. But the venom in these snakes does not appear to affect peacocks when they eat them.
Peacocks can eat rattlesnakes. Although rattlesnakes are venomous, peacocks can consume them without issues. However, if the rattlesnake is contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses, the peacock may be affected.
Are Peacocks Immune to Snake Venom?
While some ophiophagous animals like mongooses can tolerate some amount of snake venom, peacocks cannot. Peacocks are not immune to snake venom. However, they typically are very good at avoiding snake bites.
Peacocks attack snakes by grabbing their heads then shaking them violently until they die. With their heads restrained, the snakes cannot bite the peacocks. So, the venom never gets to the peacock.
Besides their mode of attack, peacocks have strong claws, scaly feet, and thick feathers. These features protect them from a bite when they are in a fight with snakes.
Can a Peacock Kill a Cobra?
Yes, a peacock can kill a cobra. Historically, cobras are one of many snakes peacocks used to fend off in ancient India.
In fact, beyond consuming relatively small cobras, peacocks have been recorded to eat king cobras – the longest venomous snake in the world.
11 Other Interesting Things Peacocks Eat
Being omnivorous, peacocks can eat both plant matter and animal matter. Hence, they feed on food items like grains, flowers, seeds, and grass. But they have a high protein requirement, so you may find them preying on many other animals.
Some of the other interesting things peacocks eat include:
- Their own eggs
Animals That Prey on Peacocks
Some days, peacocks are the predators. Then on other days, they can be the prey. While peacocks can handle their own against some of the most dangerous snakes, the following animals prey on them:
- Jungle Cats
Other Birds That Hunt Snakes
Peacocks aren’t the only birds that hunt snakes. Many birds of prey also hunt down and eat snakes.
The following birds of prey hunt snakes:
Eagles, especially snake-eagles, bateleurs, and serpent-eagles, are excellent at hunting snakes. They swoop in at a snake they intend to eat, then fly away rapidly.
While in the air, they tear off the snake’s head as it wriggles. This way, they don’t get bitten. Their feet are covered in thick scales, so it isn’t easy for a snake to bite them.
While vultures can hunt snakes, they do not commonly. They are not as excellent at hunting as other birds of prey. So, most times, they settle for snake carrion.
Ospreys primarily prey on fish. But on occasion, they go after snakes. Owls, on the other hand, are opportunistic. So, if they come across a snake, they might just eat it.
Other birds that hunt snakes include:
Peacocks do eat snakes, like many other poultry birds. They have been noted to consume rattlesnakes and cobras – even the king cobra.
While they are not immune to snake venom, they hunt snakes in a way that allows them to avoid a bite. They typically go for the head, yank it violently, then swallow the dead snake.