Is there tofurkey destined for your dinner plate this Thanksgiving or are you looking forward to chowing down on the traditional bird? If you’re going the veggie-based route, maybe you’d be so inclined as to keep a turkey as a pet. While we’ll be eating 46 million of the birds across the country, a few hundred are making their way through the holiday as pets.
It’s like a dog, but just, well, more bird-like and too messy to hang out indoors. They probably won’t play fetch, either, explains the Associated Press.
“I believe they make amazing companions, but they are different than cats or dogs,” said the national shelter director for the Farm Sanctuary. Unlike traditional four legged furry pets, turkeys get too hot to hang inside and you wouldn’t want to clean up that mess, either.
Owning a turkey as a pet can be done, but it means taking on a lot more responsibility than a dog or a cat. The National Turkey Federation knows its fowl facts and doesn’t want you approaching this new petship lightly.
“If people are adopting domesticated turkeys, they should be aware that it’s not a simple endeavor and would take a considerable amount of work,” said a NTF spokeswoman. “Turkeys as pets is a complicated question.”
Because some turkeys can be aggressive and get up to as much as 60 pounds, they need plenty of room to run and can’t be snuggled up to like cats or dogs. But those difference make turkeys the ideal pet for some people, including a woman who will welcome four pet turkeys just before Thanksgiving.
“Dogs are needy to me. They need affection, attention, security, they always need you to do something for them. With the turkeys, I don’t feel guilty because I didn’t take them to the park and throw the Frisbee,” she explained to the Associated Press.
Other owners claim that turkeys are very smart and do share personality characteristics like loyalty, the capacity for unconditional love and a whole lotta smarts.
“I was always told that turkeys were the dumbest of farm animals. But that’s not true. They know us and protect us. If a stranger comes, the turkey is right in his face and clucking and raising its feathers. They make great noises,” another owner said.
The Farm Sanctuary is located in California and New York, and manages to place around 50 turkeys a year in homes. Those birds are usually rescued from factory farms or have fallen off farm trucks and need extra care.
And you probably shouldn’t let your pet turkey know what you’re having for Thanksgiving if it’s anything that used to have wings.
Turkeys: Some people eat them, some feed them [Associated Press]