Turkeys are a type of fowl. The domestic turkey may not be quite as agile as its wild cousin, but it is still a sociable animal with plenty of character. They are even known to favor some people over others and remember the faces of their favorite people. They are large birds that are surprisingly agile, capable of swimming, running, and even flying over short distances. But how fast can they run? It is estimated that turkeys can run at a max speed of 25mph but there is variance in that.


About Turkeys

Wild and domestic turkeys are different enough that they can be considered two separate sub-species.

The wild turkey lives in all US states, except Alaska. It belongs to the same group of birds as pheasant and other game. It is capable of short bursts of quick flight, can and does swim, and is also capable of putting up a fight if it feels threatened or if you are unfortunate enough to get too close to its chicks. The wild turkey eats seeds as well as insects, frogs, and even some small lizards.

The domestic turkey was domesticated more than 2,000 years ago and has been bred for its meat. It has been bred to have a larger breast than the wild turkey, which means that it is heavier and taller. This also means that it is incapable of flight and not usually able to reach the same running or swimming speeds as its wild counterpart. The domestic turkey is usually given a commercial food pellet.

Eastern wild male turkey
Image Credit: Jim Cumming, Shutterstock

Agile Runners

Wild turkeys, in particular, are known to be agile creatures. They are smaller and more streamlined than the domestic variety. They can swim, which they will do when they need to, and they can fly, in short bursts, at speeds of 60 miles per hour.

They are also very fast runners. Estimates vary from 15 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour, but it is fair to assume that they can reach speeds of between 20 and 25 miles per hour. This helps them escape predators such as coyotes, foxes, skunks, snakes, and birds of prey. divider-bird

The 6 Facts About Turkeys

Tom Turkey
Image Credit: MOHANN, Pixabay

1. Domestic Turkeys Were First Domesticated 2,000 Years Ago

The Mayans were the first to domesticate Turkey before Spanish explorers took them back to Europe. When colonists migrated back to the US, they brought the domesticated turkeys back with them, meaning they are a very well-traveled native American species.

2. There Are Approximately 6 Million Wild Turkeys

Numbers of wild turkeys plummeted as they were heavily hunted and their habitat was destroyed. By the early 20th century, it is believed that tens of thousands of the bird remained. Conservation efforts saw this number rise to 7 million around 2010, although it is believed that the figure has fallen to about 6 million today.

3. Turkeys Have Incredible Vision

Turkeys are prey to several threatening and skilled hunters including coyotes and birds of prey. Exceptional vision gives them a chance of escape and their vision is three times clearer than that of humans. They also have a 270° viewing angle so can see virtually anything that approaches.

turkey on grass
Image Credit: Tracey O’Brien, Pixabay

4. They Will Protect Their Young

Turkeys are known for being somewhat aggressive. While this isn’t always the case, if they feel that you are threatening their young, they will attack in a bid to protect their chicks. People claim that you should avoid looking a turkey in the eyes and make loud noises to scare them off if you are confronted.

5. They Are Social Animals

Wild turkeys live in familial groups. They will sleep in trees with their extended family flock. Come morning, they will all start to gobble and chatter to one another, to ensure that everybody is OK.

6. Turkeys Will Adopt Favorite People

It isn’t just wild turkeys that are sociable. Domesticated, farm turkeys will befriend their owners and many people have been known to keep them as pet farmyard animals. In fact, you may notice that a particular turkey will get a little closer to you every time you visit until they will eventually run to you when you walk through the gate. They can remember faces and will follow their favorite people around the farmyard.

Female Wild Turkeys
Image Credit: MOHANN, Pixabay


How Fast Can Turkeys Run?

Turkeys are sociable, intelligent, and characterful birds. They are considered a large game and while the domesticated turkey is usually kept as a meat source, there are still several million wild turkeys living in the US, in all states except Alaska. They can swim, fly at high speed, albeit in short bursts, and they can run at speeds of 20 miles per hour or more.

Featured Image Credit: Tom Reichner, Shutterstock