Do Turkeys Have Teeth?

For Thanksgiving week, we thought we would veer off our normal informative and professional course to offer you something that is just a little silly and fun.  Have you ever wondered, as you are about to take a bite into your turkey, if the turkey could take a bite of you?  Read on to be the most informed person at your dinner table on useless turkey facts!

No, Turkeys Don’t Have Teeth

Turkeys, like many other birds, do not have teeth inside those beaks of theirs.  They do have a tongue and a hard palate (roof of the mouth), but no lips, soft palate or teeth.  We were shocked to learn what a scarcity of research there has been into the oral cavity of the turkey.  A study published just two years ago finally uncovered the scintillating details of a turkey’s mouth.  These Indian veterinarians were just as dismayed as we were to learn that this topic had yet to be covered.  “Relatively scant scientific information on the gross morphology of oropharyngeal cavity in Turkey prompted the present study.

What Does a Turkey Eat?

Besides rocks, you mean?

Wait . . . you didn’t know that turkeys eat rocks?  Well, they do!  They eat small pebbles to help them grind up their food.  That’s how they compensate for having no teeth.  Pretty smart, huh?

The food goes into their first stomach, where it is softened and deconstructed by gastric acid.  Then it passes into the second stomach, also known as the gizzard, and that is where the pebbles do the grinding.

Back to the turkey diet, though.  Turkeys eat a range of things, depending on their geographical location.  A typical turkey diet might include nuts, berries, grains, leaves, grass, and insects.  Some turkeys eat acorns.  Minus the insects, it sounds like a nice Thanksgiving cornucopia centerpiece, doesn’t it?

How Does a Turkey Digest Its Food?

Since turkeys don’t have teeth, they swallow their food whole.  (Doesn’t that make you even more thankfulfor your teeth?!?)  They also do not digest their food immediately.  They have a flavor-saver known as a crop (or as country folks like to say a “craw”).  Turkeys can store food in the craw until they are ready to digest it.  Watch this gross video to see some hunters explore what’s in their recently-killed wild turkey’s craw.

Other Fun Turkey Facts

  • Only male turkeys gobble.  Male turkeys are actually called gobblers.  Females are called hens.
  • If you gobble at a turkey (a male one, we now know), it will gobble back at you.
  • A few years ago, police were called upon to tackle the resurgence of wild turkeys in Boston and the surrounding areas.  One woman was attacked by a gang of turkeys!  New story here.
  • Male and female turkeys produce different shaped poop. 
  • They can run up to 25mph and fly up to 55mph.
  • The official term for a baby turkey is a poult.

Wishing You and Yours a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

From all the team members at Prosper Family Dentistry

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