Are trained turkeys really the stupid?

Published31 October 1999

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You are watching: What would happen if a turkey looks up when it rains


Domesticated turkeys room so doing not have in intelligence that they will certainly look up in ~ falling rain till they drown.

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Stop united state if did you do it heard this one before.


My grand told me that tamed turkeys are so stupid that, upon feeling the very first drop of rain, they will certainly look up in ~ the sky, fascinated. Castle will continue looking right up right into the rain, v their mouths open, until they drown.

First the all, this id as defined is based upon a pair of false premises:

Turkeys perform not look increase in order come “see” rain. Turkeys, like most birds, perform not have binocular vision (i.e., the capability to emphasis both eye on the exact same object); they have eyes set on opposite political parties of your heads, a function which offers them a greater field of vision and also thus allows them an ext effectively clues potential predators. (On the various other hand, bird of prey such together the owl require to have the ability to focus on your targets, and also they as such have both eyes collection in the former of their heads to carry out binocular vision in ~ the expense of a more minimal field that vision.) The notion that a turkey make the efforts to watch something above its ar of vision would certainly tilt that head behind is one anthropomorphization — a turkey’s eyes point sideways, so even if a turkey tilted that head backward, it would still it is in looking come its sides, no up. A turkey attempting come look in ~ something over the plane of that normal ar of vision will certainly tilt that is head party (not up) in order to carry one eye come bear on everything it’s trying come see.

The concept that a “dumb” pet would it is in fascinated by something as mundane as rain is one more anthropomorphization. The ide of “fascination” requires a level of intelligence that also the smartest turkeys carry out not possess. Pets of this order react to a phenomenon such as rain in one of two very straightforward ways: If they don’t mind it, they neglect it (as ducks do); if castle don’t favor it, they seek shelter indigenous it.

Nonetheless, this legend does have actually a pair of marginally-related elements of reality to it:

domesticated turkeys are not have to “stupid,” but since they have actually been bred in bondage for so many generations, they absence the survival an abilities of their wild cousins: castle weak, they’re fat, they’re not agile, they can’t run an extremely fast, and also they can not fly. Every one of this provides it more daunting for castle to survive on their very own in an unprotected environment, so as soon as something inexplicable occurs (such as a storm), they tend to panic. Frightened residential turkeys will commonly run as ideal they deserve to until they with a corner or fence or part other obstacle to progress, but even climate they may continue their efforts to escape, piling onto each other and possibly suffocating those in ~ the bottom that the heap.

Most trained turkeys are increased in confinement for the first several weeks of their lives, so it takes some time for them to become changed to life in an outdoor environment. If young turkeys conference rain during their first couple of days outdoors, before they’ve “figured out” exactly how to live in the environment, they deserve to be much an ext vulnerable to accidents precipitated by scare or inexperience.