Do Turkeys Have Teeth?

Do Turkeys have teeth? Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner you may be thinking a lot about this unique bird, whether they have teeth, lips, or other features, what they eat, and how they live.

Have you ever wondered while taking a bite into your turkey that if they could take a bite? Birds are different from human beings, therefore, have different facial features and characteristics. 

It is important to know about this bird if you plan to raise Turkey to cook next Thanksgiving.

These birds are of great interest to many people, especially during the holiday season. Each November, there is an increased demand for Turkeys as they feed families and provide sustenance for parties and gatherings.

Luckily, humans can indulge in their favorite dishes with assistance from teeth. It is understandable to think do Turkeys use teeth to eat? How do they chew and process their food? Read on to know and be the most informed person at the dinner table. 

Do Turkeys Have Teeth?

Turkeys do not have teeth, in fact, most birds lack teeth. People assume that turkeys have teeth inside their beaks, however, they could not be more wrong as this unique bird does not have molars.

There has not been a lot of research conducted regarding the oral cavity of turkeys. Therefore, not a lot has been known about the turkey’s mouth and its ability to chew food without teeth. 

As humans, we are fortunate to break down and chew food with our teeth. Humans have 32 teeth whereas some other animals can have over 50 teeth at a time.

It may be surprising for many individuals that how does the bird get so big when it has no teeth.

Teeth or no teeth, turkeys have to eat food to survive. They just consume and digest food differently than human beings. 

Turkey’s diet and method of consumption are different, so, they do not chew like humans.

Birds have evolved and developed different features as per their lifestyle. Birds do not have teeth and lips because they are not needed and would not help much with their survival.

Turkeys are plump birds and their ability to eat food is not affected by the lack of teeth.

They can eat as much and whatever they want without worrying about how it would be chewed. 

Like chickens, turkeys can consume food without any difficulty. Their digestive system works differently than a human and the food gets automatically chewed in the stomach.

You would be surprised to know that they have two stomachs, one of which is responsible for breaking down and grinding food. Turkeys can eat bread and ticks with ease.

turkey-teeth

What Do Turkeys Have Instead of Teeth?

It is quite surprising that Turkeys can break down food without any assistance from teeth.

It may have made many readers think these birds ought to have something as a replacement that helps them chew and grind food.

Their stomach has a component called gizzard that aids in breaking down food particles with grit.

Their mouth is mostly used for engulfing food, the rest of the process begins as the food item enters the stomach.

Turkeys need a lot of grit in their diet to be able to digest food easily. Not just Turkeys, all birds have a gizzard to chew and grind food before it moves to the small intestine. 

All the nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, any food not broken down in the gizzard can not provide any nutrients in the small intestine.

Grit helps with the digestive process and it stays in the gizzard till all the food items are divided into small particles and finely ground to easily pass through the digestive tract. 

Turkeys eat small pebbles to grind food and to compensate for not having teeth. That’s why Turkey is given an appropriate amount of grit in its diet.

Grit is of different sizes, so, feed the suitable size as per their age. If too small, the grit will not be of any help in breaking down food, so, the size and amount should match the bird’s age.

So, that is how turkeys smartly handle having no molars and eating all they want at the same time.

Related Do Turkeys Need a Male to Lay Eggs?

How Do Turkeys Eat With No Teeth?

Turkeys have beaks in place of lips that help break down large food items even before engulfing them.

Once Turkeys find a large piece of food, they repeatedly peck at it and hit it against the ground to convert it into a small size.

In place of teeth, turkeys secrete saliva onto the food to help it break down easily. The tongue pushes food back to the mouth to begin digestion.

The smaller pieces of food are then swallowed and stored in the crop of the bird for a while.

A crop is a balloon-type pouch or area just beneath the neck of the bird. The food and water they eat mix well with the liquids and good bacteria present in the crop. 

According to Science Daily, Turkeys are prey species, so, they can not chew food properly at once, especially when a predator is around.

They gobble, nibble, store, keep moving, grind, and digest food when it is convenient.

All the food stored in the crop trips down to the digestive system and quickly reaches the gizzard. 

That’s how the food is chewed, turkeys keep eating small stones and pebbles during the day to help with the digestion process. 

Can Turkeys Bite?

Since turkeys do not have teeth, it is out of the question that they can bite. They can cause injury by using their beaks to peck you.

Turkeys are well-known to attack people and other fellow birds but there is no need to worry as they do not have teeth to bite.

They will mostly spread their wings and tail to express anger.

Like many other birds, turkeys do not have teeth as well. They do not need teeth to chew food like humans as the “chewing” is done in the stomach of the bird. Therefore, their eating habits are not affected much because of the lack of teeth.

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  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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