Do Peacocks Have Spurs

Do Peacocks Have Spurs? (A.K.A. Kicking Thorns)

Yes, peacocks do have spurs. Much like other members of Galliformes, which are heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds, peacocks have spurs on the rear of their legs just above their back claw.

Peacocks are male peafowl, and much like roosters which are male chickens, peacocks will use their spurs as defensive weapons should the need arise.

If you’ve been wondering what that sharp thing is sticking out from the back of a peacock’s leg and what it’s used for, I can explain!

What Are Spurs?

Spurs are part of a peacock’s leg bone and stick out from the rear of their legs just above their back claw.

They are covered in keratin, which is a type of protein that is also found in a peacock’s beak. Keratin is also part of our nails, hair, and skin, and is a very durable material.

Spurs look like small spikes and are often referred to as ‘kicking thorns’. They vary in shape and size, but there is no mistaking a spur – especially if you get up close.

Just be sure not to get too close, spurs are pretty sharp and are dangerous weapons!

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Why Do Peacocks Have Spurs?

Peacocks and other birds like chickens have spurs primarily as a way to defend themselves.

Spurs are quite unassuming weapons, and most people are not aware they’re there and what they are used for.

They are situated just above their back claws and point out backward, and sometimes just look like an extra toe or a claw.

So, unless you’re familiar with spurs and what they’re capable of doing, you’re forgiven for not knowing that they can be used as weapons.

But make no mistake, a peacock will use their spurs to cut, slash, and pierce anyone or anything they feel threatened by.

Don’t assume you’re safe because their spurs stick out backwards, either.

Peacocks do not turn around and fight backward. They actually charge forward, flap their wings, and will lift their legs, and lead with their spurs.

Can Peacocks Harm Humans With Their Spurs?

Peacocks are capable of harming humans, yes. It’s rare to hear about a peacock attacking someone, as generally speaking, peacocks are not aggressive – but it does happen.

If you’ve been somewhere like a zoo or another communal area where peacocks are roaming free, I’m sure you’ll be warned not to touch or feed them.

It’s hard not to be intrigued or fascinated by peacocks, especially when they are spreading and shaking their feathers and creating a magnificent display.

Seeing them spread their feathers also typically means one of two things; they are either trying to attract a mate, or they feel threatened.

You have to remember that they are territorial birds that are adept at surviving in the wild. If they perceive you – or anything else to be a threat – they will lash out.

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Do Peahens Also Have Spurs?

Peahens, which are female peafowl, also have spurs. Their spurs are typically smaller and not as sharp as a peacock’s spurs, but they still have them.

The good news is that peahens are nowhere near as aggressive as peacocks. In fact, I’ve never heard of someone being charged or injured by a peahen.

This doesn’t mean it’s not possible though. You should still process with caution when peahens are around, especially if they have peachicks nearby!

What Kind of Claws Does a Peacock Have?

Peacocks have very similar feet to roosters. Technically speaking, peafowl have both toes and claws.

They have four toes, and each toe has a nail or a claw on it.

If you watch a peacock walking, you’ll notice 3 toes sticking out from the front of their feet and one facing backward.

This creates a good base for balancing while giving them a light-footed walk in case they need to spring into action in a hurry.

As you can probably imagine, a peacock’s claws are incredibly strong. They use them to grip onto a branch while roosting, as well as digging into hard ground, and getting a hold of prey.

Just like a peacock’s beak and spurs, the last thing you want is to come into close contact with their claws if you’re to avoid injury.

In Summary

If you’ve ever wondered what those thorn-like things are on the back of a peacock’s leg, you now know – they’re called spurs.

Like most things in nature, spurs play an important role for peacocks. Spurs are used as defensive weapons and can do some serious damage.


Image creditsPhoto by Stephanie LeBlanc on Unsplash

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