The Dangling Thing on a Turkey: What Is It and What’s Its Purpose?

Ever wondered about that fleshy, bumpy skin hanging from a turkey’s neck? It might look a bit strange, but it actually serves a couple of important purposes. This fascinating appendage is called a wattle, and it plays a key role in the lives of turkeys, particularly the males.

What is a Wattle?

A wattle is a fleshy, unfeathered flap of skin that hangs from the neck of a turkey, typically the male. It can vary in size and color, depending on the species and individual bird. In wild turkeys, wattles are usually red, while domesticated turkeys may have wattles that are red, blue, or white.

What are Wattles For?

Wattles serve several important functions for turkeys:

Temperature Regulation:

On hot days, wattles help turkeys regulate their body temperature. The blood vessels in the wattle expand, allowing heat to escape from the body. This is especially important for turkeys, as they don’t have sweat glands like humans do.

Courtship Display:

Wattles play a crucial role in attracting mates. During courtship, male turkeys will puff up their wattles and strut around, trying to impress the females. The bright color and size of the wattle signal the male’s health and fitness to potential mates.


Wattles can also be used for communication. When a turkey is excited or agitated, its wattle may turn red or blue. This can be a warning signal to other turkeys to stay away.

Other Functions:

In some species of birds, wattles may also play a role in sound production or food gathering.

Interesting Facts About Wattles:

  • Wattles are not unique to turkeys. Other birds, such as chickens, guinea fowl, and cassowaries, also have wattles.
  • The size and color of wattles can vary depending on the breed of turkey.
  • Wattles are rich in blood vessels, which is why they are so sensitive to changes in temperature.
  • Wattles can be used to identify individual turkeys.

The wattle, that seemingly strange appendage on a turkey’s neck, is actually a fascinating and functional part of their anatomy. It plays a vital role in temperature regulation, courtship, communication, and even identification. So next time you see a turkey, take a closer look at its wattle and appreciate its unique purpose in the bird’s life.

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What is the thing that hangs off the turkey?

That fleshy red thing that hangs over a turkey’s beak is called a “snood.” Toms and hens both have them, but they’re much smaller and less noticeable on the female. A nice, long snood on a tom tells the hen, “that’s a good mate.” The longer the snood, the better the genes.

What is the dangly bit on a turkey?

The wattle is a flap of skin hanging under the chin connecting the throat and head and the snood is a highly erectile appendage emanating from the forehead. Both sexes of turkey possess caruncles, although they are more pronounced in the male.

What is the dangling skin on a turkey?

The dangling skin under a turkey’s neck is known as a wattle. The purpose of a wattle is for mating. Along with the snood on a turkey’s forehead, the wattle is used to attract female turkeys for mating. If a turkey’s wattle is large and colorful, female turkeys will prefer it over another male turkey.

What are the dangly things on a turkey?

The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited. The long, red, fleshy area that grows from the forehead over the bill is a “snood” while the fleshy growth under the turkey’s throat is called a “wattle”.

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