A man who adopted a pet turkey only to discover it was an untrainable, aggressive thief had to appeal for a new owner to take the animal – as long as it did not appear on their Christmas dinner table.
Paul Griffiths, 53, took in the turkey, called Lurky, four months ago, along with 17 ducks and three chickens, to live with him and his daughter Ophelia at their farmhouse in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
Mr Griffiths, a construction worker, decided to adopt the fowl for Ophelia’s mother, Louise, who died from a stroke in April, aged 52, and was fondly known to the family as the “crazy chicken lady”.
Bird became ‘aggressive’
However, he has now had to give Lurky up after the bird became “aggressive”.
Turkey-Lurky would regularly jump on to the kitchen counter to steal food and chase Ms Griffiths around the garden.
“When we first got her she was very friendly, you would be able to literally pick her up,” said the 21-year-old.
“So I tried to pick her up once, and then instead of her letting me do that, she basically just pecked my face and I had a massive bruise on my upper lip, she was horrible.”
“She would run up to you with her wings out, obviously turkeys are quite big animals, with her wings spread, and try to attack you,” she added.
Adult turkeys can grow to larger than 10kg, and can run up to 25 miles per hour.
Ms Griffiths, who owns a dog-walking business, added that Lurky tried to “pick fights” with the chickens, but that the birds would fly away.
“She would peck anyone, as soon as you step foot in that garden, she was on you,” she said.
Lurky became “very aggressive” and “quite dominant in an area that she was in”, Ms Griffiths explained. “If you went to her area she would get quite aggressive.”
Muscovy ducks also wreaked havoc
The flock of Muscovy ducks also wreaked havoc on the Griffiths’ home, having already destroyed their garden and formed a “barricade” outside the house.
Speaking of the family’s decision to take in the fowl, Ms Griffiths said: “It was more of a ‘Oh let’s get some ducks’ and then all of a sudden we had too many ducks and it was just too much.”
“They weren’t allowed in the house, they were destroying all the grass and stuff, and it was becoming really muddy,” she added.
“They are also very food-oriented animals, they would stand right outside the back door like 24/7 and you wouldn’t be able to get outside with all of these ducks.
“It was like a barricade of ducks, it was crazy.”
Lurky top of the pecking order
Feeding all the animals costs between £40 and £50 a month on corn alone, she added.
Experts believe that a new owner would struggle to try to retrain Lurky, or any of the other animals.
Dr Viola Ross-Smith, from The British Trust for Ornithology, told the BBC “that ship has sailed”.
She added: “They have a pecking order and maybe Turkey-Lurky thinks he’s the top bird in the whole house.”
After issuing a Facebook appeal for someone with experience owning birds to rehome Lurky and the ducks, several people came forward.
Ms Griffiths said she would prefer the birds to go “to a different sort of home where they can be used for their eggs”.
Lurky, which is estimated to be between two and three years old, was sold along with 11 of the ducks as pets on Saturday.
The family did not wish for Lurky to be cooked and eaten, with Mr Griffiths telling the BBC: “Yes, I eat turkey at Christmas... but not out of the garden.”