Ayam Ketawa, or the Indonesian laughing chicken, is a breed of long-crowing chicken known for the clarity of its crow, which has an unusual similarity to a human laugh.
Originating from Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, the Ayam Ketawa was originally a status symbol for the region’s Buginese royal family. Its captivating appearance made it a symbol of courage, social status, and heroism, but if you know Indonesian, you will have noticed that the breed’s name, Ayam Ketawa, literally translates to ‘laughing chicken’. That’s because this chicken’s unusual chuckling noises seem to mimic human laughter. It is this distinct characteristic that makes the Ayam Ketawa popular as an exotic pet not just in its native Indonesia, but around the world.
Like with many other domestic birds, the exact origin of the Ayam Ketawa breed is unclear. However, it is believed that breeders crossbred various types of local chickens until they obtained the desired traits for a distinctive-looking and entertaining bird. It is estimated that the breed has been around for at least 350 years.
Primarily because of their distinctive laughing-like crowing, Ayam Ketawa chickens are very popular both with passionate breeders and members of the general public. In Indonesia, enthusiasts take part in large competitions to determine whose bird has the clearest crowing and best mimics human laughter, while everyday people buy them purely for entertainment purposes, as the noises they make are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Interestingly, there are two varieties of laughing chickens, the dangut, which laughs in a fast, machine gun-like way, and a slow type that crows with a drawn-out staccato of four to twelve guffaws at a time. Apparently, the dangut is the more expensive variety, with the most valuable specimens selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Due to their rarity and unique characteristics, Ayam Ketawa chickens are generally more expensive than other chicken breeds.
For more extraordinary breeds of chicken, check out the Onagadori, a breed with majestically long tail feathers, the jet black Kadaknath, or the tiny but pompous Serama chicken.