What do turkeys eat for Thanksgiving?

As we gather around the table for Thanksgiving, few of us think beyond the laborious preparations of the holiday feast. Between the stuffing, sweet potatoes, pies, green bean casserole, gravy, veggies, cranberry sauce and of course, turkey, it is difficult to think that a meal could be more complicated. However, we aren’t the only one’s with a complicated diet and a variety of cuisines.

With rich and varied food preferences, the wild turkey (Melegris gallopavo) is very different from the domestic subspecies many of us know so well. Their diverse diet translates to a distinctive flavor, making the wild turkey a favorite of many hunters. So what do these iconic animals eat? The answer may be slightly less appetizing than the contents of your Thanksgiving feast.

Wild turkeys love bugs! Depending on habitat and season, these birds will eat grasshoppers, ants, crickets, and millipedes. However, Turkeys are not selective in choosing their snacks and will also consume animals such as salamanders, earthworms, slugs, and spiders as well as plants such as poison ivy, dogwood, blueberries, and dandelions! So if you really want to spark conversation at the dinner table, turn the tables by asking your friends and family what they think wild turkeys eat for Thanksgiving!Wild_turkey_eastern_us

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