Gallus gallusred junglefowl

Geographic Range

Gallus gallus is native to Southern Asia, particularly the jungles of India. Gallus gallus spread all over the world when people domesticated the chicken. This account primarily discusses the wild species (Philips 1999, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)


Gallus gallus lives in thick secondary forest or lush belukar. In the morning or evening, the bird can be found in an open area by wide earthen tracts or clearing, where the red junglefowl finds food. Sometimes G. gallus can be seen in oil-palm estates. (Ponnampalam 2000)

Physical Description

Gallus gallus' plumage is gold, red, brown, dark maroon, orange, with a bit of metallic green and gray. There are also some white and olive feathers. Two white patches, shaped like an ear, appear on either side of the head. Gallus gallus can be distinguish from other chickens not only by these white patches, but also by the grayish feet. The red junglefowl can measure up to 70 centimeters in length. They have a total of fourteen tail feathers. Gallus gallus rooster tails can be almost 28 centimeter in length.

The red junglefowl rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored that its tame relative. During June to October, G. gallus moults into an eclipse plumage. An eclipse plumage is, for male, black long feather across the middle of his back and slender red-orange plumes on the rest of his body. For a female, an eclipse plumage cannot be distiguished, but she does moult. The female red junglefowl is leaner than tame hens. (North and Bell 1990, Ponnampalam 2000, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)
  • Average mass
    2580.2 g
    90.93 oz
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    6.005 W


The breeding season of the red junglfowl is spring and summer. The chicks will start their lives in the warmth of the summer sun. An egg is laid each day. For twenty-one days before hatching, the chick will develop inside of the egg. On the first day, the heart and blood vessels of the chick develop and start to work. At the end of the first day, the head starts to take shape. By the fourth day, all organs of the future chick are present. On the fifth day, external sex structure developed. By the thirteenth day, the skeleton begins to calcify using the calcium from the eggshell. From the time when the egg is laid until hatching, the chick feeds on the yolk that surrounds him. The yolk penetrate in the chick body by the umbilicus. On the twenty-first day, the chick, now fully developed, starts to break through his thin shell. This action can take anywhere from ten to twenty hours. (North and Bell 1990)

By four to five weeks of age, the chicks are normally fully feathered. Their first adult wings' feather will take another four weeks to grow. When the chicks are twelve weeks old, the mother chases them out of the group. They will then go on to form their own group or join another. At five months old, the chicks reach sexual maturity. The females reach sexual maturity a little later than the males. (Limburg 1975)



Gallus gallus has very distinctive social system involving a pecking order, with one dominating all, and one submitting to all. There is one pecking order for female and one for male.

The physical action for dominace is to raise the tail and head. Submission is shown when a G. gallus lowers his tail and head, crouches, and tilts the head to one side. Hens feed safely under the protection of the dominating cock. In order to fight, hens need to go at least ten feet from the dominating cock. When a dominating cock dies, the next higher cock in the pecking order takes charge immediately. The pecking order is introduced to chicks when they are just a week old. An order is accomplished in about seven weeks. The dominating cock's sphere of influence is about sixty to seventy feet. (Limburg 1975, Ponnampalam 2000)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Gallus gallus is an herbivore and insectivore. Red junglefowls eat corn, soybean, worms, grass, and different kinds of grains found on the ground. They cannot detect sweet tastes. They can detect salt, but most red junglefowl do not like it. (Damerow 1995, Limburg 1975, Ponnampalam 2000)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These birds are used mainly for eggs and meat production. The red junglefowl is sometimes used for cock fighting or chicken competitions. Gallus gallus feathers were used for pillows and mattress. (Limburg 1975, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Gallus gallus is such an easy animal to take care of and can find food for himself that it does not have a negative impact on economy or humans. (Limburg 1975, Phillips 1999)

Conservation Status

Red junglefowl have been mostly genetically interbred with domestic and feral chickens, as a survey of 745 museum specimens has shown. A sign of pure wild genotypes for G. gallus is, for males, an eclipse plumage. This eclipse plumage has been seen only in populations in the western and central of the species' geographic range. It is believed that G. gallus has disappeared from extreme south-eastern Asia and the Phillippines. This suggestion is supported by an intense scientific collection made in 1860. In the 1960's, studies in north-eastern India revealed a population of red junglefowl exhibiting the eclipse plumage. The purity of the species is in danger because of the region's dense human population, whose domestic chickens could continue to contaminate G. gallus genetically. (Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Other Comments

Gallus gallus can live up to ten years. The molting process, taking the old feathers and putting new ones on, for an adult, takes about three to four months every year. The memory of the red junglefowl is very short. (North and Bell 1990)

Domestic chickens, Gallus gallus domesticus, are believed to have originated from a continental population of Gallus gallus gallus. (Fumihito, et al., 1996)


Zoe Gautier (author), West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Joan Rasmussen (editor), West Windsor-Plainsboro High School.



uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


Damerow, G. 1995. A Guide to Raising Chickens. Vermont: Storey Publishing Book.

Fumihito, A., T. Miyake, M. Takada, R. Shingu, T. Endo, T. Gojobori, N. Kondo, S. Ohno. 1996. Monophyletic Origin and Unique Dispersal Patterns of Domestic Fowls. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 93(13): 6792-6795. Accessed November 24, 2003 at

Limburg, P. 1975. Chickens, Chickens, Chickens.. New York: Thomas Nelson Inc..

North, M., D. Bell. 1990. Commercial chicken Production Manual. New York: Van Norstand Reinhold.

Peterson, T., L. Brisbin. 1999. Genetic endangerment of wild Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus~. Bird Conservation International, 9: 387-394.

Philipps, C. 1999. "Feather Friends Classy chickens come home to roost" (On-line). Accessed July 28, 2000 (no longer available) at

Ponnampalam, A. 2000. "Words and wings, Red Jungle Fowl deserves respect and appreciation" (On-line). Accessed July 28, 2000 (probably not available) at

Stevens, L. 1991. Genetic and evolution of the domestic fowl.. New York: Cambridge University Press.