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Figuring out if a chicken is a mammal is a very common question and it can be easily answered. Many people are uncertain about this so we will take a brief look at how animals are categorized and where chickens fall in. Is a chicken a mammal or another species?
The easiest answer is that chickens are not mammals, they are birds. Mammals and birds are two different animal categories with the others being fish, reptiles and amphibians. So although chickens share a lot of characteristics with mammals, they cannot fall into two categories.
Some animals are easier to categorize than others. With chickens, there can be some doubt. There are however certain traits that you can look for to help with categorizing and understanding the animals better, especially with understanding what species is a chicken. Let’s look deeper at some of these categories and how chickens fit in.
Animals are categorized into five different categories namely mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians. Out of these five, there is some confusion of whether chickens belong to birds or mammals or reptiles.
The question, Is a chicken a mammal or reptile or bird, comes with some confusion and for good reason because chickens do fall somewhere in the middle and they overlap with all of these categories.
In the end, a chicken is a bird and not a mammal or a reptile, but let’s take a look at why.
Chickens lay eggs – the bird category shares this with some of the other categories as well because reptiles and fish also lay eggs. There are differences in the ways that fish, reptiles and birds lay their eggs. Mammals on the other hand give birth to a live baby, the entire process before that happens within the womb.
You may be interested to know how long does it take for a chicken to grow that includes information about egg-laying maturity.
Chickens never hibernate – no birds will ever hibernate and this puts them aside from the others. Both mammals and reptiles can hibernate depending on the specific animal.
Chickens have an egg tooth – an egg tooth is a small bone tooth at the end of the nose/mouth that the animal uses to break through the egg from the inside. Both birds and reptiles share this trait as they both require it. Mammals do not as they give live birth through the bird canal.
Chickens have feathers – this could perhaps be the most determining factor because there can be no mistake made here. Chickens have feathers, mammals have hair or fur and reptiles have scales. Going deeper, feathers are a key identifier for the fowl species which falls under the birds and of which the chicken is a member. It is very easy to distinguish between scales, hair and feathers so perhaps this is the most important point.
Chickens do not have a mammary gland – mammals make use of a mammary gland to produce milk to nurse their young. Neither birds nor reptiles have mammary glands because they do not produce milk to feed their young, they feed them with the food they catch.
Chickens have a beak – this is also a unique trait of the chicken and of other fowl species. The birds beak is formed from Keratin. Some mammals and reptiles also possess Keratin but it is mostly found in horns and nails. In some cases like with a turtle beak, there is also Keratin.
Chickens have a beak, but do chicken bite? Many people ask this question, click on the article to find the answer out.
Chickens are indeed warm-blooded. They share this characteristic with mammals. Chickens do not fare too well in very cold temperatures and they need to keep warm for their bodies to function properly. Being warm-blooded means that body temperature is generated from the inside.
Chickens have a thick coat of feathers to help keep their bodies warm and when they sleep at night they might also stay close to each other to manage their body heat.
Cold-blooded animals like reptiles can take far colder temperatures because their bodies do not warm themselves, they make use of the sun to warm their bodies. This is why you will see lizards crawling out of the water and staying dead still on the rock soaking up the sun.
As with all animals we have to look at what the characteristics of each category is and then look at where it fits in best. There will always be key traits that you can use for identification. For example, a chicken cannot be a reptile because it is warm-blooded and it has feathers. Also, a chicken cannot be a mammal because it lays eggs and it has feathers. Therefore a chicken will always be a bird.
We asked, Is a chicken a mammal or bird or reptile or what … As it turns out, chickens are birds, not mammals, reptiles, or another type of animal species. Although there is some overlap when categorizing a chicken, so you can see where there is confusion comes from, but it’s a chicken is categorized as a bird.