Many people believe that ducks live in complete freedom. But the truth is that there are many members of this species who have been domesticated and live with people in their gardens and grounds. Would you like to have a duck as a pet?

Types of ducks

A duck as a pet?

The fame of ducks as pets has not spread as far as it has to other species, such as dogs or cats. And as far as his own species mates are concerned, such as parakeets, canaries and parrots.

However, many people have tried hard and it has been shown that a duck can be domesticated, being one of the best companions you can have as a pet in the home, being as affectionate and affable as a dog is.

What are the characteristics of a duck?

At birth, most ducks share the characteristic of being yellow, with feathers that look like very fine hair. They do not reach the colour of their species until they have made their first molt.

bird duck

There are many varieties of colors within the same species, and some have transcended more than others, such as the mandarin duck, which is one of the most characteristic as a pet. But there are others that have made a name for themselves among lovers of this bird, such as the red duck or the species known as the domestic duck, which is destined to live with humans, even though it counts as its wild variant.

What is the behavior of a duck?

Ducks are social animals that enjoy being with other ducks, as well as they can get used to being with humans, and consider them as if they were their partner and a very appreciated being.

They are adapted to live in the water, on the land and in the air, being able to fly hundreds of kilometres each year in their migrations. When flying, they fly in formations that reduce air resistance, so they can fly at a speed of 95 kilometers per hour.

flying duck

They use body language and vocalizations to communicate with each other. But when they live with humans, such body language is also used to send a message to their owner, such as that they may be hungry or feel like playing.

How can you tell the sex of a duck?

The truth is that knowing whether a duck is male or female depends a lot on its breed. As a general rule, a condition that is met in most breeds is that the female tends to have a darker, duller plumage than the male. Also, it is possible that it lacks some color in its feathers that the male does have.

However, in some species of ducks they do not have sexual dimorphism. Some breeders have the bad habit of finishing that the female is smaller than the male, when in 70% of cases this is not the case. Therefore, in these cases, DNA testing is used to determine the sex of the person.

sex of a duck

Another option is to palpate the genitalia of the step, to check if the pelvis is a little more developed, which would indicate that it is female, or less, which would mean that it is a male. In other cases, the male is usually more “vocal” than the female, but this is true of other bird species than of ducks.

How long does a duck usually live?

When owning a pet, it is important to know more or less how long its life expectancy will be, and with ducks it is no exception. As with all birds, the life expectancy of a duck varies depending on the species it belongs to.

duck age

However, one could say that the average hope of a duck, no matter what breed of duck it is, is between 9 – 12 years old if it receives sufficient care. But we have seen some specimens that have reached the age of 20 years.

What does it take to take care of a duck?

Having a duck is not the same as having a parakeet or a parrot. They can live in cages, but ducks like freedom better. To keep them from escaping, it’s best to have a pen, henhouse or even a large rabbit hutch that could be good for ducks. However, if you are only going to have one, a small hut or henhouse with a bed of straw will be enough for you to sleep comfortably and protected at night.

If you have obtained a small duck, less than 4 weeks old, think that it is very sensitive to changes in temperature and air currents, as its body is not yet covered with feathers. So you have to build him a little house in a cardboard box, or wooden box, with a little box to keep him warm. It’s a good idea to put an infrared heat lamp, at about 30°C, in the corner of the box 24 hours a day for when you need heat. This lamp should be about 38 cm away, to prevent it from being touched and burnt. By the sixth week you will no longer need the heat of the lamp.

bird in nature

Ducks love to swim, so it is ideal to have them when you have a pond or live near a lake. If you have your own pond, think of ducks defecating while swimming, so you’ll need to have a filtering system. In the case of simply having a garden, an inflatable pool, or an aquarium, about 60 cm wide and deep will be enough for the duck to feel comfortable swimming.

Although it usually feeds on what it can get in the water, it is a bird that eats everything. Some ducks are considered to be dogs, as they can also eat leftover meat. But the best thing to do is to feed it properly according to the species. The water in your drinking trough must always be fresh, and must be changed twice a day.

To sleep you must have a bed of straw, either inside the house or in a hut you build for it. Also, it’s important that you give her affection, because she’s a bird that can be quite mellow. Children can play with ducks, but under adult supervision, because if they are frightened, they could get hurt with their beaks.

Can you have a duck in a flat?

The truth is, it’s not the best thing to do. A duck needs freedom to move around in a large area, at least with a garden and enough room to swim.

However, it would not be impossible to raise him in a flat. Many people have achieved this with great success and have made it the ideal pet. However, in this case, remember that they need a place to swim every day, either a surface or a large aquarium in which to dive.

duck in a flat

You also need to have a large hallway where you can stretch your legs. Also, your bed should be located in a part of the house that is not too hot or too cold, where there is no draught, with a good bed of straw to be comfortable while you sleep.

To control the stool issue, special harnesses are sold that can be worn on ducks and come with a diaper. So you don’t have to wander around the house looking for the animal’s feces.

I want to take my duck for a walk, is that possible?

While it may sound crazy to many, there’s nothing to stop a duck from taking a walk. In fact, there are many who do, because they like their bird to go for a walk. If it is something that could be achieved with cats and pigs, why not with ducks?

Their negative point is that they are emotional and nervous birds, so it can take a lot of getting used to what it is like to go for a walk. It’s best to take it in a carrier to the park and then take it out with a harness. In the shops you can find safety harnesses that hold their feathers, preventing them from flying away. If you want her to swim, you can use an extendable leash to give her a little freedom to enjoy the lake in the park.

What are the common diseases in ducks?

Ducks are not animals that are free from disease for the sake of their owners. Therefore, they must be taken care of very well to prevent them from suffering from them. Now, what are the most common diseases in ducks?

duck diseas

  • Chancroid: This disease is also known as yellow ulcer, a condition that manifests itself in the oral mucosa, forming a buttery matter that accumulates under the tongue, which may be confusing to the naked eye with diphtheria plaques. Sometimes this matter spreads to the glottis, which could obstruct it and cause asphyxiation of the bird. So be very careful not to let it get too big and let the vet know to take care of it. One of the remedies often used is to give him apple vinegar.
  • Diarrhea: It is not uncommon for an animal to have diarrhea, especially when it has consumed an excess of vegetables that have plenty of water, grass, or wet fodder. In this case, you should start feeding him a drier diet, mixed with castor oil and some yagua bread.
  • Constipation: Remember that your bird’s bed must be in a place where there are not too many drafts. If you don’t, your duck will probably end up constipated. In this case, it should be moved to a warmer area and fed with a little pomace or grape seeds.
  • Vertigo: Did you think vertigo was just a human thing? On the contrary, ducks are quite prone to vertigo attacks, sometimes caused by brain effects or by having a parasite. It is a serious and incurable disease. Some believe that if a duck is prone to vertigo it is best to sacrifice it, but it is not. A duck with vertigo can lead a perfectly normal life.
  • Parasites: Like other birds, ducks can also have parasites. After all, they get into watery areas where there may be a lot of insects. Some of these use them for food and others may devour them, such as internal parasites that devour them from the intestines. Others put it on their feathers and itch them, which can cause them to try to pull it out. In these cases you have to be very careful and take it quickly to the vet for worming.
  • Cramps: Ducks are birds that are used to any kind of terrain, whether walking, swimming or flying. But they can suffer from cramping, which is very common in chicken ducks. His joints swell up, and they can’t walk. Sometimes it lasts so long that it can become chronically coated.
  • Irgluvial indigestion: It is caused by a parasite known as Trichosoma, which impinges on the mucous membrane and the esophagus’ sumucose, paralyzing its function and causing food retention. This may be mistaken for esophagitis or stuffing, but it has nothing to do with it. The bird should be given sweet almond oil or operated on to empty the stomach.
  • Fat degeneration: This condition is caused by an excess of fat due to degeneration of the muscles into fat. It may be due to a natural tendency of the individual, but as a general rule it is due to the fattening that these birds suffer from a bad diet. In ducks that are layers, this disease can be so dangerous that it can kill them.
  • Depression: Even if your duck has been used to being locked up all your life, its genes mean that it likes to swim and move around in the open air. So, when you have this bird, it is good to let it breathe fresh air and swim from time to time, because it will be very happy and you will prevent it from getting depressed.
  • Abnormalities and accidents in the genital organs: It is the same problem that is usually registered in the hens, due to a laborious posture, prolapse exit of the oviduct, which gives rise to the intra-abdominal posture, which means the fall of the egg in the abdomen.

How can you educate a duck?

Although it may seem like an impossible job, you can actually educate a duck to be a first pet. But it’s going to be a job that’s going to require a lot of work on your part and a lot of patience.

First of all, he’s had the duck since he was little. Ideally, you should buy it when you are about four weeks old, and place it in a place where you feel comfortable. As it will be inside a box, approach it and gently caress it with your finger, giving it a cuddle with which it feels comfortable.

When he comes out of the box and starts walking around the house, it’s also a good idea to talk to him about something, especially flattery. Get him used to the fact that he can also eat from your hand, which will help him gain a little confidence in you.

By the time you’ve moved your feather, it’s time to get used to a bathing schedule. If you don’t have a pond, then you’re going to have to build him a pool or fill up his bathtub at home, and set up a bathing schedule, a couple of times a day. Always at the same time, until your body gets used to it. Try to make sure it’s always free for a while, so that the bird doesn’t have to ask you, because they can be quite heavy animals when they feel like taking a bath.

duck eating

In the case of having a pond, so that he doesn’t lose the bond you have built with him, try to be close when he goes for a swim and say some affectionate things, so that he can hear them and feel comfortable.

Taking him for a walk is another story. I’m sure you’ve noticed, if you’ve ever seen a duck, that they’re birds that can be easily frightened. So, at first you’ll have to take it out on the street in a kennel, so it gets used to the noise. It may also take some getting used to walking in the sling, so you’ll have to put it on at home to get her used to it.

At first, take short walks around the area to get her used to the sounds around her. The ideal is to start with a park, but you can also take it down to your neighbourhood and take it for a walk down the street, ideal for building up your confidence. Repeat the process every day, a couple of times and you’ll see how he gets used to it very soon.

As a general rule, they are animals that are used to eating when they feel like it, so you will have to get used to it from an early age. This way you avoid the trouble of him getting too heavy when he asks you for food.

What should you know before you have a duck as a pet?

Surely there’s nothing more tempting than having a duck as a pet, especially if you’re looking for something different. Don’t you think you should think twice about it, though? First of all, there are some things you should consider:

duck bird as a pet

  • These birds require very special care, they are not like a dog and a cat. And if you live on a very large plot, they’re gonna need constant surveillance.
  • In some areas there is nothing to worry about, but if you live in an area with predators, they usually hunt ducks. So you’ll have to build their house with lots of security measures to keep them out.
  • Ducks are birds that can have very rare diseases, and few veterinarians can treat them. Not to mention that there are few veterinarians who specialize in birds. You should find out if there are any in your city, because it could be a very high cost.
  • Ducks love to swim, so you have to offer them a place to do it. If you don’t have a pond, or at least a garden to set up a swimming pool or an aquarium for it, it could be cruel to have it on a floor.
  • They are very prone to fattening, so you have to give them a very specific diet. Keep this in mind before you decide to take this pet.
  • It is true that some people have managed to raise ducks with other pets like dogs. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen the same way with all the dogs. Similarly, you have to be very careful with felines, as they are two species that seem to be very difficult to get along with each other.
  • The sound that ducks can make can often be quite unpleasant. Especially if you keep him locked up, a very negative point for this bird.
  • They can end up being as heavy as dogs when they want something. They don’t have much trouble climbing anywhere when they get used to using their wings, and they may be giving you a lot of “poof” when they want food or feel like going out and playing a little. Therefore, always keep in mind that a large part of your free time will have to be dedicated to taking care of your bird and giving it the love it is asking for.


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