Keeping a Single Duck is Cruel!

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

This video came across my path today:

YouTube – Ducks who Truck.

Cute, but I pray this does NOT inspire people to go out and get a duck as a pet!!!


Every year I get people who contact me looking for a (one) duck or egg to raise and keep as a pet. They ALL try to convince me how much they will love the duck, and they ALL try to convince me that the duck is truly happy.

Forgive if I sound vitriolic, but this sort of thing just makes my blood boil. It is a prime example of our human arrogance (of COURSE every living thing want what we like….).

First off, since WHEN did wanting something make it good or right?

Since when did loving something guarantee its happiness?

How would YOU know if the duck is happy? How many ducks have you known? Animals want to survive, and most will make the best of whatever situation they find themselves in. Making the best of a situation is NOT the same as being happy.

After 40+ years of studying and working with animals of all sorts, I have learned that different kinds of animals require different lives in order to be really happy. They will make the best of whatever situation they have and most never show any signs of depression. People are fooling themselves when they tell themselves the animal is ‘happy’.

Birds should not be treated like dogs or cats, and I would not put one on a leash, even a very long one. Ducks can learn many things and you can often teach a duck to follow you but there will still be times when instinct takes over and he does what comes naturally for a duck, like heading for the nearest lake or stream for a swim.

The problem is that no matter how much you loved him, you can NOT know what it was like for him. Just because he looked “happy” by human standards, does NOT mean he was happy by duck standards.

Ducks ARE NOT people (or dogs or cats, or parrots…)
Animals are adaptable, and will try to survive in whatever conditions they find themselves.
Your idea of a perfect life for a duck is NOT (and I cannot stress this enough!!) NOT a duck’s idea of a perfect life.The life you gave him is no more suited to a duck than dancing and riding a bike is suited to a bear.

Here are just a few reasons why this is a BAD, BAD idea:

  1. Ducks are social animals. Raising a duck away from other ducks is cruel (they absolutely need other ducks for their proper development).
  2. Ducks can NOT be house trained – and they poop every half hour or so.
  3. Ducks can live to be 20 years old. p.s. Ducks imprint as babies. They will follow anyone around because it is their instinct to do so. Don’t confuse instinct with choice. It has NOTHING to do with what he likes.

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Keeping a Single Duck is Cruel! — 176 Comments

  1. So I just found your page & wanted to share my story about a single duck. Fourteen years ago my dad got me two ducklings,I didn’t handle them much,We had a pen outside for them, my drake got killed by a fox at around 6 months old.My little female mallard(Milly) Was kept inside that night & forever changed the next 12 + years of my life.We found duck diapers online from the goose’s mother & our strong bond began.She slept in my bed,She Loved to swim in the pool with us,car rides was her favorite,and in her older days watched over my new born baby.My Millyduck was not lonely & we was her family.She was not a pet like a cat or dog,she was my child.Her personality was bigger than life. December 31,2016 my Milly waited till i woke up at 6pm(i work nightshift) to pass.I had her cremated & still shed rivers of tears since she has been gone.Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the heartache.Everyday I would come home to an empty, lonely, and depressing house I realized I needed her as much as she needed me.After months of depression,we got a cayuga duckling & he has brought nothing but joy.He has a huge personality just like Milly.We are his family & He knows he is loved just like Milly did.So No it’s not always cruel to have just one single duck..Milly was not imprinted on me & neither is Reese.Reese is currently playing dolls with his human sister
    As i type this..He is far from lonely.I’ve learned alot about these intelligent creatures and they are not for everyone,they are a everyday lifetime commitment,& imprinting is not always the reason for a duck/human bond.That is 2% of my story!The rest is in memories,pictures,moments,and yet to come.

  2. Not sure if my original post showed up, I dont see it. I am curious to get info on a lone muscovy duck at a local residential pond near my workplace in fort worth, texas. He has been alone since I’ve first come to the pond about 3 years ago. I feel sorry that he is alone, I can tell he wants company since he hangs with the mallards when they fly through but he always ends up just him. Any thoughts? Should I just leave it as is or is there anything I can do?

    • Posts on this blog are moderated so they don’t appear immediately.

      Ducks are almost always better off with company. That said, it’s more likely that the duck is being territorial than that it is trying top[lay with the other ducks. Being different species and not having grown up together, it’s not surprising that the wild ducks will ignore the muscovy. It’s most likely that your duck is a feral duck (i.e. one that was dumped by a person) rather than a wild one, although you are in an area where wild muscovies do sometimes appear. Do you know if it is a male or a female?

      As for what you could do:
      1. Leave it as is.
      2. You could capture it and look after it for the rest of its life (ducks can live 20 years). It would be best if you had at least 2 ducks so they have company.
      3. You could try and find it some company.

      I can’t tell you which is the best option for the duck – there are no simple answers here.
      I hope that helps.

  3. There is a large pond in a residential area by my work in fort worth, texas. All year long, there is a muscovy duck there that is super friendly and will come say hi every time I’m at the pond (which is often). I’ve noticed during the fall and winter months that when the mallards are flying through and make their routine stop at the pond, the muscovy always tries to interact and play with them but they usually dont seem interested. I’ve been doing alot of reading and I know ducks should be around other ducks, but this one is always alone besides the occasional fly by of traveling birds. Is it ok that this duck be alone all of the time? Is there anything I can do? I’ve been seeing him at this pond for a few years now and it makes me a little sad that he has no partner. I appreciate any advice on just leaving it be or what, if anything, I may be able to do to help. Thanks!

  4. I have been going to the local river for the past two years to see and photograph a beautiful goose and muscovy duck. I visit them daily and they were the best of friends and never apart. Very sadly something killed the goose and now the muscovy is alone. There are other ducks there and he likes to chase them. I can see he is very sad and misses his friend the goose. He is such a lovely wonderful duck i feel so sad to see him like this. Where he lives really isnt safe for him as dog walkers often just let their dogs run free. So i dont know what the best option for him is…Further down the river is a wetlands area where there are many types of ducks, swans etc etc. It is a beautiful place and much safer. If i were to take him there would he survive? Would the swans attack him? Would he intergrate with the other breeds there? He would be the only muscovy if i took him there. He trusts me and i would be able to pick him up and drive for about 5 mins to the wetlands. Would he cope with this? I would hate the stress to kill him. Where he is now I feel it is only a matter of time before a dog gets him.
    Another option i thought is to buy another muscovy and release it where he is now so he has a friend. But of course then it is only a matter of time before they both meet theyre doom 🙁
    I love him dearly and just want to see him happy and safe.
    Please if you could advise me what i should do?

    • Muscovy ducks are DOMESTIC, and should never be released into the wild.
      Do not release another muscovy.
      Muscovies can also fly, so he may do fine.
      There are no absolutes when it comes to introducing a bird into another population, but he would probably be best off with the other birds.
      It may take a few weeks to adjust, but they will all likely adapt.
      I hope that helps.

      • Thanks for the reply. Yes i can only think he was an unwanted pet and they dumped him at the river. He has been there for 2/3 years now. I visited him today and he seemed happy enough. Washing, splashing and having fun. I will leave him where he is now as there are a few ducks about and swamphens. He likes to boss them all around 😛 🙂

  5. So my colleague threw me a 10 day old duckling because the duckling hatched from a Balut egg that he forgot to eat. It’s freaking cruel. I have no choice because he was going to kill the duckling if I didn’t take it in. I love my duckling and I’m doing all I can to keep it healthy before I give him away (I live in an apartment, I have no garden). He’s 18 days old now.

    It has imprinted on me but I’ve found a farm where I can bring it to to live for the rest of his life. There are 2 muscovies, 2 whistling ducks, many geese in the farm and they’re all probably a few years old. I’m worried my duckling doesn’t know how to be a duck and integrate with them because he has never seen a duck other than himself. I just want to know the chances of him flocking with the rest of them. Any idea? And what is a good age for me to bring him to the farm? Thanks.

    • It will take time. Perhaps set up an enclosure where the duckling can be safe from the others but can also interact with them to an extent.
      I would say, the sooner the better.
      There will be complaining.

      There is a chance that one of the older critters might adopt the baby – I’ve seen this with geese a few times.

      Best of luck!

      • Hi Becker! It’s me again. Thanks for your suggestions. It helped me a lot and gave me some hope. But…

        So I put him in a farm when he was 8 weeks old. I wasn’t able to bring him there earlier because in my country, breeding of ducks are illegal and with his down feathers, the authorities will take him away if spotted. Literally all birds are imported where they will go through tests for avian flu. My duck obviously never went through all these tests and if the authorities found out he came out of a balut egg, they’ll euthanize him. The farm owner specified he must have feathers first before i bring him to the farm. Also, the farm is open to public and it is the only farm in my country.

        My duck has been there for 2 weeks in a cage. The owner told me she couldn’t let him out because every time she opens the cage, my duck will follow any stranger and doesn’t know go come back to her when she calls. Her other ducks will go to her when she calls them. She’s afraid one day he’s just going to walk away and out the farm. Also he has no intention of flocking with the rest of the ducks. I don’t want him to live out his life in a cage (it’s huge but it’s still a cage, his neighbours are a few chickens and roosters whom i see he kept talking to when i visited him).

        My only other option is a vet nurse who has many chickens in her apartment (no garden, no pond). She wanted a pet duck for awhile now and she is interested in taking in my duck. What should i do?

        #1: let my duck live in the farm in a big cage alone where he can see the pond but can’t get into, see people and other ducks.

        #2: let the vet nurse have him who has more passion for animals than the farm owner but he will be the only duck with chicken friends and will be indoors 24/7.

        It’s heartbreaking but in my country i don’t have much choices. I’m also pretty angry with my colleague now but what’s done is done.

        • It may sound backwards, but if it were an old bird, I’d say letting him live out his days in a big cage might be fine. With a young animal, it seems to me that quality of life is more important than quantity. If he can’t live the life of a duck, then maybe it is kinder to put him down.
          That said, you have to do what you feel is best.

      • It needs company – preferably other ducks. Ducks can live up to 20 years. If you are unable to provide for the duckling for its whole life, then you are better off giving it to someone who can, or, if all else fails, having it put down.

  6. OK, I understand that you think having one duck is cruel. No argument there, but I’ve only had chickens before. Anyway I won’t burden you with all the details of how we ended up with a year old Swedish drake who has not been with other ducks. Those details can’t be undone, but I would love to know if there is any chance of adding another duck (male or female?) at this point, for his companionship, or if I’m just going to end up with 2 lonely ducks. Thank-you.

    • There is. You could look through some of the past replies for some ideas on how to introduce two ducks to each other. It usually works out – it just takes some time. You can ease the transition by having them near each other but separated by fencing for a while.

      Good luck!

  7. Hello I need some advice …..I got 2 Mallard ducks but one always seemed like it had a problem with Walking but I let her and her sister grow up together but her sister seemed way bigger than her my husband built a Large pin with a kiddie pool So my chickens could get use to them slowly we’ll we went to town and when we got back we found My rooster attacking the littlest duck I cried and went and grabbed her to clean her up …..what I don’t get is the rooster flew over the fence into the pin to get to her when they were doing just fine …..Long story short I got medicine for her wounds and been keeping her inside to heal I run clean water in my tub 3 times a day and feed her I’m a stay home mom so I have time I’m trying to help her but she Limps and can’t seems to get balance she falls over her tail don’t stick out it’s down …..and she’s healing but the walking part concerns me what do I do ? After she got attacked I got 2 baby runner ducks for her sister to have company outside while I try to nurse her back to health but she don’t seem to be getting better me when I do put her out Her sister pecks her head and her tail and the ducking do the same …..what do I do

    • Give her time. Ducks have pretty amazing healing powers. I’ve had ducks who looked like they were almost dead (unable to walk or even lift their heads) recover in a few days with a bit of help. If she has any wounds, the others might pick at them, so keeping her separate for a while may be necessary. If you have some sort of pen you could keep them near each other while she recovers. I’ve had ducks who lost feet and even part of the leg to frostbite recover and go on to live for years in with the flock.

      I hope that helps.
      Good luck!

  8. I came across your blog when trying to research about caring for a duckling. I have acquired a duckling that was abandoned and found on the side of a highway.
    I tried to contact many rescues and local sanctuaries but no one will take him because he is a Black Bellied Whistling Duck and they are not “native” to Florida (at least that’s what they told me). Currently he is living inside my bathroom. He has starter feed, a heat lamp, pine bedding, a shallow water dish and a stuffed tiger friend. I can’t put him outside because I live near protected forest land and it’s full of predators. My mother says she will take him at her property once he is old enough to be outside but she does not have any other ducks . I know he needs a friend and you can’t get his breed here unless you buy 2 and they are very expensive. Will all breeds of ducks get along? We have a Rural King here and they allow purchases of a single duck but they don’t offer many breed options. Also, I have read some of the comments and we are absolutely fine with caring for the ducks for the rest of their lives no matter how long that may be.
    Thank you for your time.

    • Hi!
      I live in Canada, and am not giving my 2-week-old ducklings extra heat. As long as your little guy has shelter from wind and rain, I doubt it will needs extra heat at this time of year. (Unless your house is all air-conditioned, I guess).

      I have *NO* idea what “Rural King” is, but if they can provide another duckling or two, then that is probably a good option. The breed is less important than that they be ducks. Chickens will work in a pinch, but they can hardly enjoy a bath together. 😉
      As I understand it, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks will ultimately learn to fly. If you want to keep them as pets, you will have to clip wing feathers every year (I do not recommend full pinioning (cutting off part of the wing bones). It’s easy enough to do if you wait till the feathers no longer have blood in them, and it should only need to be done once a year. You might want to google local regs for keeping wild ducks. At least here in Canada it is not legal to keep a wild species without a permit (and they have some pretty strict regulations for housing etc. to make sure that the wild populations don’t mix with the domestic ones).

      If you want to raise it and let it fly away, then having at least 2 domestic ducks would be a good idea, because at the end of the season, you will likely end up with just those.

      Good luck!

  9. Katrin,
    I need to get in touch with Tina Holman. We have had two ducks for a little over two years. Our female duck died two days ago. I am interested in adopting Tina’s duck. Please give her my information.
    Thank you,
    Kathryn Box

  10. Hi. I have a situation. I am left with one Male full grown duck. I raised 4 ducks from babies. They were all over a year old. Something killed 3, now i’m left with one full grown male. Should I give my male to someone that already has full grown ducks or can I introduce ducklings to him?

    • If you are prepared for the longterm commitment of new ducks – they can live a long time – then I’d say it’s up to you. Your duck may really like some new ducklings, but it may also take some time for him to get used to them. You have to play it by ear and be prepared to keep them separate for a while.
      I hope that helps!

  11. My daughter rescued a Muscovy Duck that had been hit by a car. After taking it to a vet, she is fine with a head injury and a sore leg. However, we have no idea where she came from. At this moment, she’s sitting beside me in a laundry basket sleeping off the trauma 🙂 We live on 12 wooded acres with six cats, six chickens and a Great Pyrenees. I have no idea what to do with this duck, especially since she’s limpy. I know I can’t keep her in the house, but I also can’t really just stick her in the yard either. We have a baby pool that we can fill and I can try to create a space for her in the pole barn, and my daughter bought pellets…. but… what next?

    • Most ducks have pretty amazing powers of recovery. I’ve had birds lose parts of their legs to frostbite and go on to live pretty normal lives with he rest of the flock. I’ve even had blind ducks who did fine for years with the flock. As long as your Pyr accpets the duck, it can probably live with the chickens.

  12. So I found a duck egg on my backyard and i have been incubating it and its suppose to hatch in 10 days should i get another duck to keep it company
    I already have two cats that almost two years old so would they hurt it

    • Why do people do that?
      You should NOT have started incubating it. It would have been better to just leave it.

      IF it hatches then absolutely YES – you should get it another duck for company.
      They are highly social creatures so keeping it isolated without other duck company is cruel.

      And, YES, there is a chance that your cats might KILL and EAT your duckling. They hunt and eat birds.

      • I have security cameras up and the ducks left the egg and didnt return so we took it and we have a huge back yard to raise it in would q chicken be fine

        • Birds FREQUENTLY lay eggs that they abandon for a variety of reasons.
          You should have left it where it was.

          A chicken as company is a poor substitute, but it is better than nothing.

          Might I suggest that you NOT try incubating eggs again.
          Please read through some of my other replies for more information.

  13. My dad found a duck by itself out near a river. He told me he tried to look form the mom but couldn’t find her. The duckling looks a couple of weeks old. What should we do, do we take it back to the river or keep it?

    • If you keep it, you MUST check local regulations, Many places require permits if you want to keep a wild duck.
      Raising it alone is a very bad idea. If you do that it may never be able to integrate with other ducks again, and you will have to accept responsibility for it for the REST of its life – which COULD be as long as 20 YEARS.

  14. I have a question of my own , we recently got a baby duke due to my dad finding 2 eggs at his work that the mom left because she thought they were dead. It so happend that only one dies and the other one survived , we shave been googling information about baby ducks and what to feed then and all & I? recently recived a call of my mom saying that the baby duck has stop quacking. And she thinks he might be dying but i think she’s exagerraging , could they be any other season?

  15. Last week a grown duck randomly showed up on our street. We live about a half mile from a large tidal creek but I have never seen ducks there. Truthfully I have no idea where this duck came from but he doesn’t seem to want to leave, despite the fact that there is no body of water and no other ducks around. He primarily stays in one yard so I assumed they may have brought him there, but tonight he is sleeping in my yard.

    I put some water and mealworms out for him/her but I am concerned if the duck stays that it will be attacked by a dog or other predator. What should we do?

        • Sounds like it’s a feral duck – escaped from a farm or acreage.
          You could try the local animal control or possibly even 4H or a feed store to see if someone wants to try and catch him.
          Muscovy can fly, so he is probably in less danger than other domestic ducks, but it’s still not good for him to be alone.
          I hope that helps.

  16. My daughter brought home a pekin duck egg from a pumpkin patch. The worker gave her an egg layed by one of the farm ducks there. I didn’t know anything about ducks st the time. So we made an incubator, jatch e it and now it’s 8 weeks old. It’s in a large dog crate in our house during the night and walks around the kitchen during the day. We live in south orange county, have a very small yard. After it hatched I tried to get another duckling but in Nov no one had any. So it is imprinted on us. It seems to be happy. It’s used to its cage and lov s following us, bath time, and walking to our local lake for swimming and eating lake stuff. However it poops so much I would like to be able to put her outside more often without her crying. I can’t get another duck because we might not even be allowed to have ducks in our HOA, and I can’t imagine having twice as much poop to clean up. Is there another animal I could get that would be a good companion? I heard a bunny could be, but my duck sitter tried putting her with one of her bunnies once and one of her chickens once and she still cried. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I do have a family that said they would take her. They have one pekin and a dog that live in their yard. But when we brought her there at 5 wks old the dog seemed to want to bite her so I got nervous. Maybe now that she’s full grown it would be different?
    Please help. Thank you!

    • Ducks are NOT house pets. Like most other animals, when you first put two ducks together, they will likely push each other around.
      Check back through the previous replies for information on how to introduce two ducks to each other.

      • Yes but I said I can’t get another duck because I’m not even supposed to have this one. What would be best for the duck? Find another animal companion or give her to someone else that will probably keep her outside with other animals, knowing that since ages imprinted on humans age will feel abandoned?

        • I’m probably not going to give you the answer you want.
          Yes, you CAN keep it, but that is not best for the duck.
          Being with other ducks is best for the duck.
          It will take time for it to adjust, but it will.

          I have had ducks live as long as 17 years.
          Are you ready to commit to looking after your duck for that long?

        • That’s great news. From the other comments and imprinting research it seemed cruel and difficult to wean ducks imprinted on humans with no ducklings around, but I definitely can’t see myself keeping a duck 17 years unless I get into a really good routine and a different house maybe. She is part of the family but if giving her away is best then I will do it. I’m assuming the earlier the better? And give her to a family with other ducks is best? I will start looking. ????

  17. I work for a greenhouse where there is one lone female mallard. She was found as a duckling , abandoned by her family in a local park. She has imprinted on the greenhouse operator and spends her time surrounded by people, turtles and quail. Do you think this is enough socialization for her??? Or do you think we should get another female duck? She’s been the only duck for about a year. She also had the chance to meet some other ducks this past summer, but wanted nothing to do with them. Do you think she feels like a human and/ or a turtle?? These are the only beings she’s grown up with.

  18. Two days ago I spotted a lone duckling in the middle of a busy intersection narrowly dodging multiple vehicles. I couldn’t let the thing get run over so I stopped traffic, scooped it up, and with no sign of a near-by family, brought it home safe and sound. Now I’m fighting the urge to keep it since it’s been nestled into my neck for the last couple days and I’ve followed all the health guidelines for 1-2 week old ducklings. Whats your experience with wild life conservations? This little guy got a second lease on life and I dont want to screw it up!

    • I think that wildlife conservation places depend on who’s running them. Some are great; others not so much. If you have one (or more near you, contact them and see. They often have more than one duckling this time of year, so your duckling could end up getting his best possible chance there.

  19. I had three baby ducks. On sadly got eaten by a fox, and so now we have two. One male, one female. But, since male ducks are extremely rapey, I had to separate them, she isn’t upset about it, in fact her personality has transformed completely. She was terrified of him getting on top of her. He ripped out her neck feathers, her back feathers, and her wing feathers were all broken. The have been separated for about three weeks now and her feathers hav all grown back, but a few of her large wing feathers are still snapped off at the ends. Mike, if you are going to get another duck, get another male, or multiple females. Since separating my two ducks, my female is happy and splashes in the duck pool, and snuggles. She was two scared to swim when they were together, because the first thing he would do whenever she got in the pool was get on top of her. When she would try to sit and snuggle on my lap, he would try to use her laying down as an opportunity to rape her. We are moving, and he will be going to a new home. Don’t let him hurt her. I will be getting her a female chicken companion. She is extremely social. She follows me whenever I am outside. She even followed me when she had a duck companion. And yes, they were raised together. Your arrogance makes MY blood boil. It would have been cruel to keep them together.

      • Sometimes they do, but i have found that most of the time, males will get along quite well so long as there are no females to fight over.

        While chickens and ducks co-exist quite well – I have had both sharing the same spaces for over a dozen years – they typically don’t become friends the way ducks do with other ducks.

  20. I have a duck i found she was alone we look for her parents and couldn’t find any sign did i make the right choice of keeping her i take care of her and she plays with my cat and i always let her swimming the tub change her water 2 times a day put new bedding down every morning . I just want to know if i made the right decision because i love her i really do and i only want the best for her

  21. I had three baby ducks and two of passed away now I have s baby duck living in my bathroom and I just noticed that she is plucking her fathers what do I do

    • You need to find her another duck or two as a friend.

      It’s odd that 2 out of 3 ducks would have died – they are normally extremely robust. Did they get eaten by something? I ask because if they died of some illness (some sort of poisoning is far more likely than an illness) then your remaining duckling is probably also at risk and you need to change how you are looking after it.

      I hope that helps.

  22. We had 8 ducklings and mom for 2 months in our backyard/pool. Last week each flew out on their own at different times. They were all gone including the last one for 2 days. I saw 1 circling in the sky as if she was looking for mom and siblings. Yesterday she came back quacking and crying and hoping mom would hear her. She waits patiently by her lonesome in the pool all day and night. Its heartbreaking. No sign of mom or siblings. They are only 2 months so I assume they can’t be terribly far. Why hasn’t mom come back to look for her. Whats going to happen to this one lonely duck?

    • If they are wild ducks and she’s still hanging around, there is likely little you can do. Give it some time and try to be patient. She will almost certainly find her way.

  23. My Mallard Just had babies yesterday, July 3rd 2017, I also have another hen and a Drake mallard, is it ok to let them all be together, mama & her babies with the other 2 mallards? Or should I keep them separate until the babies get bigger? We are building another duck Pen for mama and her babies to keep them away from the chickens and Rooster, can I add the other 2 adult ducks with her and ducklings? Or will there be trouble?

  24. I bought a house and inherited two ducks. They have been cute little companions that never leave each other’s side. We went out of town for the weekend and came home to find that daddy duck is gone. We Think he possibly got eaten by a racoon or an owl. Now poor momma duck is all alone and depressed. Do we get her a new duck friend? Do we get a baby or another adult male?

    • Either would work, but you will need to be prepared to get them used to each other slowly. They might need to be separated by a fence or small barrier till they get used to each other.

  25. Inherited 3 ducks. 2 females and 1 male. The male constantly raped the females. A hawk came and ate the females. The male was alone. I felt bad so I let him out in the yard with the chickens. He then started raping the chickens. Yes his instinct did take over. This is why mr. duck stays in the pond locked up away from everyone else. It was either this or death for him. He seems pretty happy though.

  26. Any ideas on how to ‘wean’ a single human imprinted duckling off me? I had an autumn duckling who had to be assisted to hatch and none of the siblings survived to hatch. So of course ended up with a single duckling who duck imprinted on me. I tried to locate another duckling, or even a chick to raise this one with but none were around so I had to raise the duckling alone.
    I have many other ducks and have tried to expose this one of them as much as possible and also used soft toys right after hatching to try and get the duckling to imprint on ‘siblings’, not just me.
    However At 6 weeks old he is still very attached to me and becomes very distressed if i go out of sight/hearing. I can only leave him,by putting my iPad very near him, playing my voice on loop. I have tried leaving him out with the other ducks in the hope he will stop crying after a little while but he doesn’t.
    He is now also getting bored and frustrated indoors overnight, he really needs to be spending most his time outside with the other ducks, but he becomes too upset to leave him out there alone.
    I have raised many ducklings before as I rescue them,, and recently raised two siblings which imprinted on me, they had no problem and became independant at the same rate as non imprinted ducklings amd those raised by their mum or a broody hen, so I assume the problem here is the lack of siblings. It’s not a situation I wanted or chose, and i did everything I could obtain a sibling for this one, but because it was early autumn no other ducklings were about, the bird rescue I have worked with had none, neither did anyone else.
    Any ideas on tips or techniques to wean this one off if needing me to be constantly a few steps away, without undue stress to the duckling (or me for that matter?). As above I have plenty of ducks for him to hang out with and they are pretty friendly and accepting of this one, and he’s definately physically and mentally ready to be spending less time with me and more with them i just need to help him realise that.
    I don’t mind him being indoors, but I want him to have a proper and full duck life, not some ridiculous existence where he thinks he’s a human. Had hoped he had spent enough time around my ducks (every day since hatching) to naturally start becoming more independant as he got older, but he’s definately not at or close to where others have been by 6 weeks

    Do you think he might naturally get less dependant on “mum” maybe once his hormones kick in etc? Maybe then girl ducks will become more interesting than mum? Lol

    • Oh ps you are the first Katrin (as opposed to Kat or katrina) I’ve come across anywhere… Apart from one of my rescued ducks, who is also a Catrin (but with a C)

    • I will take time, but I’d suggest you confine him with one or 2 other ducks in a small pen – first for short periods (an hour or 2) then longer. It could take a week or two, and there will be complaints. I had a singleton last year and managed to integrate her this way. I started with her when she was about 3 weeks though, so I would guess it might take more time with your guy. I put mine in with a couple of senior ducks – I had a dog run inside the duck pasture I wasn’t using. Each day I added a few more ducks till they were ALL in there (I had 10 at the time). Once they looked reasonably relaxed together, I let them all back out again.

      Good luck!

      • My issue isn’t so much getting him accepted by the other ducks, they are fine with him. It’s that he isn’t interested in them! If I put him in with them, as long as I am there, he will happily do normal duck things, but usually he’s constantly ‘chatting’ to me yo make sure I’m there. If I go too far from him he starts behaving the same way a younger duckling will when it’s mother moves away or can’t be found. He simply frets and doesn’t make any attempt to interact with the other ducks.
        He does react to their presence in some ways, for example in the mornings (im not a morning person) when my ducks start making their usual morning noise of greeting calls and so on he will wake up and start calling to me and generally getting active and wanting up.n but when I take him to the other ducks he is still focused on me.
        He has been exposed to then daily from a couple of days old. And every day I’ve been outdoors where they roam freely and had him around them.
        Basically he is like a 2-3 wk old duckling in terms of how near he wants me to be. The last few nights it’s been close to a full moon, so the ducks tend to be more active and louder at night and he can hear them from indoors. I think he’s sensing this and has become hyper tonight, to the point where I had to take him outside at 12:30 am to have a dip in the pond.
        Anyway I have tried putting him in one of my smaller runs with a couple of ducks (two Juvenille boys who also imprinted on me but became independant at a normal rate). Also with some of my friendlier juvenille girls and an adult who just had ducklings recently. In both cases the other ducks were curious and friendly to him, but he just ignored them calling for me
        My only sucessful leaving him outdoors was when I put my iPad out nearby playing my voice. On that day after I returned he had even choosen to loaf about near other ducks. Every other attempt he’s just cried for me and even when he stops crying he will sit in the spot nearest to the entrance to the enclosure until I return.
        Actually the only time he will show an interest in doing stuff with the other ducks is when he know I’m close by… But if I am too close, ducks being what they are, the other ducks will move away from me. Also as it’s almost winter here I can’t always leave the ipad outdoors as it would get rained on and wrecked.
        I have wondered if I should just go out and leave him, in the hope that after freaking out he will eventually start to interact with other ducks. However I worry he might become even more clingy if I do that, as when I have intentionally ignored his cries for very long he’s become more clingy afterward. And his only improvement, in terms of taking an interest in what the other ducks are doing, has been where I’ve been close by. I think he is interested in the other ducks but needs to feel secure before he is prayed to pursue that interest.

        At the moment I can put him out with the other ducks in the day and usually he will settle after a while and stay out there while I am indoors, without too much fuss. But if I go outside the enclosure where we all (me and the ducks) live he will start to fret until I come back in. As long as I am inside the area where my home and the ducks range, is (~20 x 30 sq space) he is ok after a while. But if I exit the enclosure he will call or whistles till I return, up to an hr and he’s still doing it, almost losing his voice.
        Aldo once it starts to get dark he becomes more needy and if I’m not with him 3-4m he starts to panic.
        Part of me thinks I should just put him out and leave him next time I go out (5-6 hrs) yo force him to get used to me not being there, another part worries that on my return he will be more attached than ever and possibly start having anxiety issues but maybe I’m being over protective.
        What do you think, should I just bite the bullet and leave him and hope he will cry it out then eventually start to adjust?
        As above its not about getting the other ducks to accept him, it’s about getting him to take an interest in them. None of the other ducks have picked on him, and several have made friendly overtures but he’s just ignoring them as he’s too focused on where I am. However he is showing plenty of interest, from indoors, when he hears them calling, so I am sure he is interested in them.
        Maybe I do just need to leave him alone till he adjusts. As I write this I am realizing I had another boy, singleton raised by a chicken, who was very similar after his chicken mum decided he was all grown up and rejected him, at around 5-6 wks. He was a lost wee soul for a while.. I put him in a house with with two slightly older girls and a group of nice natured ducks with a couple of Brody’s who’d mother anything that would let them. He was the same then, kept to himself and cried at night, and often throughout the day.
        Now he has two exclusive girlfriends, several booty call girl ducks, he even picked on another slightly younger male for a bit, and still generally prances about the place like he’s ‘the man’.
        Maybe I just need to leave this wee duck alone no matter how upset he gets and keep doing do, to force him to let go of me? Maybe I need to do what the chickens do and just reject him completely and consistently…. I don’t think I can do that though!

        • It takes time, and it will involve a certain amount of complaining on the part of your young duck. I don’t see any way to avoid that, but the longer you wait, the harder it will likely be on both of you.

  27. Sadly I knew realistically I would be writing this some day, Mollie was older than Ollie when they were abandoned and left to us, some 7plus years ago, they became the elders of the poultry section always with their own space and never around when the hens had chicks, and somehow we avoided Ollie being over zealous with either Mollie or the hens physically, she probably ruled more than we thought !! ..the cats, dogs, hens and ducks all have merged very well and we have had no problems luckily over 8 years. However today Mollie has gone to sleep and while most of the time she sat quietly during the day was still happily active right up to last night, but it was quite clear Ollie was like her guardian always in place beside her. I am sad but know I do as best as I can for all the animals and they all have lovely outdoor and happy lives (I think so anyway !!) Ollie looks a bit confused today.. not sure what to do, the hen girls have all just wandered around as normal and he looks pretty much like you would imagine an elderly partner to look,a bit lost and alone and of course Im hopeful this will pass, but in a longer term, it is not practical to gain any more animals now so I do not think finding him a mate is possible we are getting on in years too, and I wondered if it is more kind to give Ollie to another place where there are more ducks (he hasn’t been used to this since he was born) and run the risk of him feeling worse, or to keep him and hope he just copes with his own aging and loss. He has company in the hens but I know he will be heartbroken (in my world) I want to do the best for him and yet the decision is heartbreaking as of course I want to keep him but do not want him to be sad 🙁 I guess we will see how he gets on first, but do we really know how sad they must feel, I,m thinking pretty much they will feel the same as us !!

    • In this case the kindest thing to do might be to just let him continue to live with the critters and in the place he knows best. When we lost our 2nd last goose, the last remaining goose was never quite the same, but she continued to hang around with the other ducks and chickens – the ones she had known all her life. She seemed happy enough. My guess is that moving Ollie to a new place would be more disruptive to him than letting him stay where he is.

      • Hi Katrin,
        I found this blog while looking for information. I live in a cove on a small lake. About a month ago a pekin duck showed up at our house. It is the first white duck I have seen in our area. I fear someone dumped it off. It is very friendly and does come up to us expecting to be fed. I bought it some floating duck food as a supplement and it is fishing. I now fear that it is lonely, but I’m not sure what I should do about it. The other breeds of wild ducks that are in our cove avoid it completely. Do you have any suggestions?

        • Katrin, I can’t find an answer to my question and ran across this looking for answers. Someone dumped an Indian Runner on the pond behind our house on an urban golf course in April. He seems to have done well physically, if more sedentary, but seems so very lonely. We only have wild ducks in the winter, and the few times one has landed the runner will swim for all he’s worth to the other until the wild one flies away. I have found a farm that said they’d love to have him, but I have no idea how to catch him without injuring him. Would it be better just to let him continue to forage and live his life where he is or attempt to rescue him? We also have bobcats, dogs and kids fishing that I’m afraid will hurt him. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

        • One way to catch him is to set up a pen or U-shaped fence (using a dog ex-pen or something made of wire is likely to work better than a solid wood barrier). Herd him into the “pen” and catch him with a fishing net. Sometimes it helps to make your arms seem longer with a stick or broom – that way when you hold your arms out to your sides you “cover” a larger area. Having a helper or two can be useful too.

          I hope that helps.

  28. Hi, I really need advice. I recently took in a duck who was on the road all beaten up. I took it to a vet While my daughter waited to see if it’s family came back. The vet said she would be fine but they had no place for a duck so we took her under our wing (ha sorry) We kept her inside for the first day, letting her out for visits. She fell in love with my girl (who is 12) and got named Egg. She follows her everywhere.She is now a month and a half. We have a few acres of bush and a large creak. She is free range although we have an old chicken coop (a huge one) that she sleeps in. She go’s swimming a few times a day. She’s getting really good at flying and see’s our next door neighbors two ducks for a few hours a day.
    Like I say, she does see other ducks daily. Is this cruel, and if so, what do I do. Get another duck? I can’t give her away, it would break my daughters heart.

    • Like I have said, I do think it’s cruel to keep a duck (or any herd animal) alone without the company of their own kind.

      Getting another duck or two is your best bet.

      Feel free to read back over some of the previous comments to get additional ideas.

      Good luck!

      • My daughter was given a duck chick as a present. She’s almost a year old now and lives in the house with us Yes it’s a lot of cleaning but we manage however we can’t have another duck, it would be too much. I know of nobody who would take it, we have tried to find others but nobody wants her.. I didn’t really want this one but I felt it was cruel to give it back, since the giver said the shop would just kill it. So I found out what to feed it and what I needed to do to keep it happy. However it seems I was wrong, according to you she’s not happy. so I’ll take her to the vet this week and have her destroyed. I don’t want to be cruel. Thanks for the heads up.

      • Well I thought my duck was happy, she lays eggs, sits at my feet, and when the children come home from school she spends all her time with them, but apparently we are being cruel.

        • We can certainly have a conversation about this, but not if your responses are passive-aggressive.
          The truth of the matter is that ducks are HIGHLY social creatures, so anything that isolates them from others of their own kind is unnatural. Ducks are not dogs. Just like it is cruel to a horse to keep one without other equine company (no matter HOW much time a human spends with it), it is cruel to a duck to keep one without any other similar animals for company.

  29. This past Spring a flock of around 100 black bellied whistler ducks arrived at our pond in Texas and stayed around until they decided it was time to migrate elsewhere (around September). I have noticed that there is 1 that was left behind. It could fly away, but hasn’t made an effort to do so. Will it be ok by itself or is there something I could do for this lonely, wild duck?

  30. I had 2 ducks. One of them died. The other I had to leave her with my cousin (he lives in a farm and I live in a city)
    What sould I do? ????????????????????????????????????????????????

  31. I really do appreciate your input for I do not know about ducks.. i was traveling along a desolate highway when a small ball of yellow fur run across the highway. I pulled over and found this maybe two day old duck in the ditch. I waited and looked around for about an hour and there were no other ducks in site, and no water. So instead of leaving this little guy for coyote bait, I brought him home. He has thrived very well and with much researching I have learned to be a good adoptive parent. I contacted the local Avery possibly check to see if they would welcome him into their fold so that he could live a normal life with other ducks with absolutely no response. My husband and son have built a very nice predator proof pen and coop for this little guy and I laid sod so that he would have grass. Since he didn’t come with no company can I integrate another duck into his world without risking the safety of either one?

  32. Thanks for this article. My wife and I live part time in a weekend cabin now on a dammed creek which forms a long “pond”. We were married here 25 years ago. It was her Grandmorther’s property since 1946. For as long as she can remember there have been ducks and geese on the creek.

    But now there remains just one duck. I wondered yesterday if it might be lonely and googled and found this blog. Our side of the creek is 7 acres with some rental cabins. The other side has a 7 acre preserve but adjacent to it at our end is a restaurant. People walk down to the creek to look, and swim in the summer. Vacationers as well as us also swim and paddle canoes and kayaks on the creek. So it’s semi-public. I’ve seen kids on the other side chase the duck, throw things at it, and hassle it. On our side it is left alone.

    My question is whether it would make sense to introduce more ducks to the creek. And if so, how to determine what kind, how many, and if geese should be included (I don’t know that geese belong but I ask only because both were here for so long).

    Thanks for any input.

    Here is a photo link so you can see the duck in question.

  33. I adopted a day old lone duckling that had been handed to me at my work (which is a small park farm) and since we only have about 4 or 5 older ducks and the rest geese and chickens, I decided the only option was for me to take him home. He is a pekin and we called him Pippin, and I tried my best to get another one his age but at the time it was impossible to find one anywhere! Every duck breeder I called up said they would have no ducklings for another few months. He is about 6 weeks old now and he is extremely attached to me and my boyfriend. He is so happy running about with us outside and swimming. He is well looked after but he follows us everywhere and cries when we leave which breaks my heart. I managed to find a banty hen chick that was given into my work with its mother and sibling. She is a few weeks older than Pip (but alot smaller!) and although they seem to get along (apart from a few nips from Pippin at the the beginning), he is still as attached to us as ever. He wont even stay outside in his pool/grassy area if we are not out with him. Instead he goes inside and sulks. Please help!

    • I wish you had contacted me sooner.
      Sammy getting used to being outside.This year I am also dealing with raising a single duckling. As soon as the ducking was able to go outside, I put her in a secure pen with ONE other duck. At first she was only out there while I was doing chores, and then I left her there longer and longer until she got used to the place. Once she was OK with being outside, I started adding other ducks, one at a time. She’s now 6 weeks old and is quite happy with her flock. They are still in a secure pen, and I intend to wait until she is fully feathered before letting them all back out to their usual pasture.

      It can be done, but it takes time and you must do this gradually. It will take longer for you because you’ve left it so long, but your duckling should eventually be OK with staying with her own kind.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks for getting back to me so soon! The problem is that my mum simply does not want any other animals. She was not happy when I brought pippin home but I couldn’t leave him at work and I love him to bits now that he has his own personality. I would hate the thought of him hacing to go elsewhere.The chick just about got accepted by my mum but I doubt she will allows another duck to be brought home. Is there no way he and the chick would co-exist?

        • They could co-exist, but unfortunately no amount of love will be able to make up for the fact that this duckling will have to live an isolated life away from its own kind. Chickens and ducks can live together, but they have different needs and different things will make them happy so any way you look at it, NEITHER will ever be able to live the lives they were meant to live.
          Forgive me for saying so, but keeping him is not in the duck’s best interest, only yours.
          Ducks can live a long time – my oldest duck died in his 18th year. The duck is better off with his own kind.

        • I called every duck breeder I could find in the region of ulster here in ireland again this morning and every one if them is telling me I’ll not find ducklings anywhere at this time of year. I am completely stumped I don’t know what else to do!

        • Ok so Im going to swap the chick for one of the other pekins we have at work. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting him into the enclosure as it is very big and while there are 3 other ducks, there are also chickens, roosters, geese and a swan who can be aggressive. So I will take the pekin home and hopefully pippin will take to her and all will be well!

  34. Thank you so much for this article. My mother in law has a camp on a river and recently had a domestic duck just show up out of nowhere. She has fake decoys in the river for decoration. The poor duck is lost and thinks this fake flock is her family.

    I’m so worried about this lonely little duck. She’s been there for well over a month and does not leave. My MIL started feeding it bread. She’s going to try to find a place to board it for the winter. But I’m sure she has no intention of getting any more ducks to keep it company.

    I just don’t know what to do. I’ve secretly considered a duck napping to try and find this duck a permanent good home.

  35. We have now been keeping four ancona ducks for about one year, cohabitating with our 6 or 8 egg layer chickens. We have three girls and a drake. They have been doing very well and everyone seems to get along. Earlier in the spring, we allowed one of the ducks to sit on some eggs and she ended up hatching out just two ducklings about 3 months ago. These turned out to be one male and one female.

    The drake originally had no problem with the ducklings and made no attempt to kill them and was, in general, protective of them. However, around the time that we were able to identify the male/female-ness, he started chasing the two away from the group. We figured this was due to rejecting the male and since we didn’t want a second drake, we removed him from the group. Unfortunately, the drake is not accepting this lone girl into the group either. It has been about a month since we removed the new male, and the drake still chases her down whenever she comes near the others. She continually tries to be part of the group, of course, and follows them at a distance everywhere. If she isn’t near, she quacks constantly in their direction.

    Sometimes it appears he is trying to mate her, as the behavior seems similar. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case and he is mostly just beating on her.


    • I haven’t had any issues with ducks getting along, but I have had some challenges integrating goslings. In that case it was a trio, and the older goose would attack the younger one whenever the drake tried to mate with her. It took about a year, but they did become close. Perhaps it will just take some time. The drake ought to be starting his eclipse molt soon (if ha hasn’t already done so). I find they tend to be more placid during that time. Is there any way they can be confined for a few days with the drake in a cage or pen INSIDE a bigger pen? Or even just keeping HIM penned up for a a few days. Perhaps if she gets a chance to connect more closely with the other ducks, he will be more inclined to accept her.

  36. My daughter’s school had several ducks on their pond. One of the female ducks hatched out 9 ducklings but the drake killed all but one. The injured duckling was taken in by the teacher and had imprinted on her. Now two years later I’m babysitting the duck for the summer but I’m feeling very sorry that it is alone. She has been sitting on a nest of infertile eggs, if I were to sneak a couple of ducklings into her nest would she raise them?

    • She might. Ducks don’t always need to brood for the regulation time (28 days) before they’ll accept babies. It’s worth a try – so long as you are willing and able to look after all the babies yourself if she doesn’t.

    • Hi I live in Southern California and have raised an abounded female miniature call duck for a year and half. She hangs with our dog in the back yard and has a secured pen. I too feel she is lonely she laid eggs all last year and would sit on the unfertilized eggs in a nest she built in the easement behind our home. In July she flew back in our yard before the big molt. In California ducks are protected, the wildlife sanctuary is inundated with abandon baby ducks in April and wouldn’t take the duckling, and I wasn’t going to leave her in our backyard to die. Needless to say we raised her and try our best to keep her in a duck environment. I’m looking for a home that she can thrive with other ducks not sure where your located but would be open to anyone with a duck to raise her with their ducks. Not sure if it’s possible, any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

      • Hi.
        Call ducks are domestic ducks so I’m not sure the same rules apply to it as they do to wild ducks. However, you might try a facebook list in your area that caters to people with poultry (especially ducks). They might be able to help you find someone in your area that could maybe take the duck.

        I Hope that helps.
        Good luck in your search!

      • Hello, I need a female companion for my female duck. Her friend passed away and I am worried she is lonely. Our pets are family to us and we are heart broken we miss our other duck and are sad watching the other be lonely. I live in the SF East Bay Area and would love to see if we could help each other out. I can be reached at 510-677-9544 and my name is Barbaralynn

        • Hi Barbaralynn, I know your post is almost 3 years old but I found myself in the same predicament today when my male duck passed away today leaving his 1.5 year old all alone now. He has 4 chickens he can hang out with and is already following them around almost like trying to copy what their doing but I know he needs another duck to hang out with. Did you have any luck getting a companion and if so how and where. I am in Livermore, Tri Valley area of the Bay area. Thanks in advance, Nadia.

        • Hi.
          Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond.
          I’m assuming that by “Bay area” you mean San Fransisco in the U.S.?
          I’m not from the U.S. and really have no idea where you might be able to get a companion.
          As I raise ducks, I hatch my own, so I’ve not often needed to buy ducklings.
          Your duck might appreciate another duck for company but introducing one to your group might take some time.
          It usually works though, if you are patient.
          Good luck!

  37. Hello Katrin, I really need your advise. I go 2 female muscovy ducks over 3 years ago as duckling. Sadly one of them died a month ago. After doing a mountain of research on whether to get another duck for Gertie or not I decided it would be bad for her not to. I found another muscovy duck (Jezebel) that is about 3 years old hoping that they may bond…………..well my lovely surviving girl has turned into a total nasty piece of work. Gert has dominated the new duck but not in a good way. She does not let her eat or bathe and pecks at her when they go to bed at night. When I try to separate them so the new duck can eat, the new duck won’t touch it. The strange thing is that they do stand and wonder with each other and Jez will want to be with Gert if she sees her. Gert gets really cross when I approach her and puts her tail feathers up and wings out as though she is going to attack me (which she has done a couple of times). She is very vocal when ever I am near her or the pair of them. She will no longer eat out of my had and as for petting her………forget it……she just pecks really had at me. I am thinking of halving their pen so they have half each, can see one another but Gert cannot peck at Jez. I have thought of leaving Gert locked up for a few days to try and break her dominance. I have had the new duck 2 weeks now and I have to question if I have done the right thing. Please advise on what I should do.

    • I think dividing the pen is a good idea. It is possible that Gerti is being territorial. It might also help to give the bulk of the space to the new girl for a while and then let them be together under supervision. Is there any way to make a new pen (could even be out of the same materials as the old) in a new location? Sometimes putting them in neutral territory helps. There are no guarantees, of course, but ducks can learn – it just takes some time.

  38. I bought 6 ducklings from a store. A couple days later, one of my ducklings got a broken leg. I spent many days caring for her leg. It has been over a month now and she still has not regained use of her leg. She is unable to bend her leg so she now hops around on the good leg. I want to put her out in the coop with the other ducks but they run into her and knock her over. Plus I have another bully duck who is ripping feathers out of her and the other ducks. Due to these circumstances I have decided to keep her in doors with me until she grows and can better defend herself. I do take her outside every day to be with the other ducks and swim in the pool. Do you think I am being cruel by keeping her inside with me? Because I believe I am doing what is best for her. She seems very happy inside with me. She cuddles with me and follows me around. I plan to eventually get her outside in the coop but I do not feel she is ready for that yet or if she ever will be.

    • How did it brake it’s leg I had a duck who I thought had broken it’s leg but Ir ended up being a niacin dificiency have you tried adding niacin to its water or brewers year to irs fooos?ch

  39. I have a 2 week duckling I found about 3 days ago alone, and it doesn’t have a companion, I don’t know what I should do, keep it? Or give it away to a better place for its own self. PLEASE HELP

  40. I rescued a lone Mallard about 16 months ago, i read that they are social so my wife and i went and bought a Pekin as company, they got on well, our Pekin followed our mallard EVERYWHERE like a big fat white shadow (once she became white). Then, one day our Mallard discovered the power of flight and left. Yellow, our Pekin, was so distraught, she moped under a bush all day, and we did all we could do… bought another duck. This duck turned out to be a drake, and LOVED having female company once he was old enough.

    Sadly, our Pekin died suddenly yesterday, we just didn’t know or understand any signs of what killed her until the last day and a half, I’m still not certain of what it was in the end, but in hindsight, i can see symptoms and signs that may have pointed to worms, or an intestinal blockage. Our drake has finally clicked this morning that she isn’t coming back, and his mood has dropped significantly, that made me feel even worse about the whole thing. Moving on, my question is this, will it be better for me to get a drake, or to get another mate for him?

    I have heard that 2 drakes works fine, and as cute as ducklings are, i don’t know that we could do right by them for sure despite our best efforts or intentions if the situation arose.

    A little more info, we are in town – sort of – but we are in New Zealand, and we have EASILY over 120m2 of lawn and gardens with large paddling pools for our duck. You may think that it is a small area, but for 2 ducks its a pretty large free-range area.

    Also, our original mallard came back to visit over the Christmas period with her own drake friend, she has since left again.

    • I am sorry for your loss.
      If you only have 2 ducks, then the sex doesn’t really matter.
      If you end up with a female and don’t want ducklings, simply remove the eggs as she lays them (they are perfectly edible).

      I hope that helps.

      • It completely matters!!! I had three baby ducks. On sadly got eaten by a fox, and so now we have two. One male, one female. But, since male ducks are extremely rapey, I had to separate them, she isn’t upset about it, in fact her personality has transformed completely. She was terrified of him getting on top of her. He ripped out her neck feathers, her back feathers, and her wing feathers were all broken. The have been separated for about three weeks now and her feathers hav all grown back, but a few of her large wing feathers are still snapped off at the ends. Mike, if you are going to get another duck, get another male, or multiple females. Since separating my two ducks, my female is happy and splashes in the duck pool, and snuggles. She was two scared to swim when they were together, because the first thing he would do whenever she got in the pool was get on top of her. When she would try to sit and snuggle on my lap, he would try to use her laying down as an opportunity to rape her. We are moving, and he will be going to a new home. Don’t let him hurt her. I will be getting her a female chicken companion.

  41. We’ve had 2 pekin Ducks for 1 1/2 years. We bough them from a tractor supply place because we live on a lake with acreage. We do call them “pets” but really They have been free range ducks, living in our back yard and full access to the lake. They are also inseperable! 2 nights ago something killed our female while she was laying on her nest. It was a sad loss for our family but watching her male partner is just utterly heartbreaking!!!!! We know we should get him a new mate but are just torn whether to go with a male or a female, given the high take rate (who knew) among ducks. We would appreciate any advise!

    • Domestic ducks can’t fly so they need protection from predators. If you only have two, then it shouldn’t matter what sex they are, but a pair will likely get on better.
      Hope that helps.

      • I would really appreciate some advice please – i have 2 aylesbury drakes and 4 chickens and sadly a few days ago a fox attacked and i lost 2 chickens and today lost one of my boys he had a heart attack at the vets. Obviously I cant leave his brother alone. I had been thinking of rehoming them for over a month as my garden is very small, I dont have a pond and they were both getting frisky with the chickens.

        Now sadly i have a choice to make – do I get a lady duck for him to keep him company or do I rehome him where he can be with lots of other ducks and as many females as he can manage. I am trying to think of what would be best for him. As I said, my garden is very small and I have no pond – they do have a largeish paddling pool that they like to flap about in but they havent been able to swim. They are housed in with the chickens with no problems – they or i should say he now, gets on well with the chicks when he’s not trying to mate with the head chick lol. I am devastated at the loss of Reggie they were absolutely wonderful together going on the rampage round my garden and waking me up at 5am i am going to miss him so much and the thought of Ronnie being without his brother makes me so sad. I just dont know what to do for the best and any advice would be so very much appreciated.
        Thank you

        • I am so sorry for your loss.
          I would say there is no big rush to make a decision as he still has some chickens to live with that he already knows.
          I guess in the end, your decision should be based on your needs – if you still want to have ducks, then I’d suggest getting another (or maybe 2). I suspect getting an adult would work better then starting with another duckling (there will still likely be some squabbling as they get used to each other). Having no pond isn’t really a great hardship as he has a paddling pool. If you don’t really want to continue with ducks, then you could try to find him a new home. Either way Ronnie will have some adjusting to do. He has grown up with another duck so he will have a good ‘sense of self’, and should adjust quite well.
          I hope that helps.

      • Hello my name is Ashley I am new to raising ducks and chickens last year I bought to mallards and to Pickensfrom Tractor Supply luckily we lucked out and actually ended up with a female and a male out of each so everything has gone smoothly recently my poor Drake was killed it is so sad to watch my female walk around at night as if she’s lost during the day she stays with the to Pickens but she still the same lonely my question is if I was to get a grown Drake would they imprint or bond I was thinking I’ve attempted to get some ducklings hoping to get a male but it would take so long for him to grow to her age and then if I was to get more females what would they do someone told me that mallards mate for life so if I had more ducklings and ended up with just one male about to be off right I just feel horrible her not having a companion any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated

        • I’m so sorry for your loss Ashley.
          There are no guarantees with critters. It is possible an adult drake would get along with your duck, but it is also possible they might not. If you get an adult, I’d keep him in a pen for a while where they can get to know each other without getting too close.

          Mallards don’t mate for life – the males are not at all picky and will mate with any duck that’s available. Domestic ducks do form social bonds but they don’t really pair up.

          If you get baby ducks she might adopt them and be perfectly happy, but she might not. It’s really impossible to tell for sure until you try it.

          Whichever way you go, make sure that at first they are only together when you are there to watch. Keep them separate (but so they can still see each other) when you can’t be there, until you see them acting like they are willing to get along.

          I hope that helps.
          Good luck!

  42. Ducks are social animals there ate signs to show if the duck is happy i have 4 but just having one isnt cruel if you have the time for it as long as you are there being momma duck the one duck will be fine and not depressed and yes they can be inside animals and they can be litter trained mine are so i dont see why this is a bad thing

    • It is cruel because it does not consider the duck – imagine how you might feel if you had to spend the rest of your life living somewhere that is completely unnatural to you (like on the moon).
      Ducks can live as long as 20 years – are you committed to looking after your duck for the next 20 years? Because it was raised in isolation, it may never be able to go back to living with other birds – it will either be picked on or become a bully.

      Keeping a duck in isolation is a selfish act that people do because they want a duck, and then they convince themselves that the duck is happy and fine but they don’t actually consider what the duck needs to be really happy.

      I also think it is wrong to keep a duck in the house. They are not domesticated animals like cats or dogs or rabbits – they should be outside.

  43. Hi, I just got my first duckling around 5 days ago, he/she was 10 days old, I got he/she from a farm with lots of ducks on it, when i say lots, i mean LOTS. I’ve been doing a lot of research about ducklings, because this is my first time and I’m only 15.

    My Dad said i could only have 1 duckling, He seems very happy at the moment because i put teddies in the box with him and a mirror and he cuddles up to the teddies and watches himself in the mirror. I also take him out daily into the sun.

    When I get home from school i let him run around and outside, I let him poop freely, got no problem with that. I replace the water in his box 4-5 times a day, change his food dish and food 4-5 times a day and i replace the straw and newspaper everyday. Are there any tips or things i need to improve? Also the farm I got him from didn’t have him in heat pad (it’s meant for ducklings). I know its cruel to only have 1 duckling, but I can’t do anything really about it and i really love him, is there anything I can do to improve?

    • Sounds like you’re taking good care of him.
      I know it’s hard but unless you can get a second duck to keep him company he is better off on a farm with other ducks. Without another duck he will not be properly socialized, and once he’s older he will not be able to go back into a flock.
      Ducks can live for a very long time – I have one who got to be 17 years old. Are you prepared to clean up after him every day for the next 17 years? He will never be house-trained, and as he gets bigger, so will the mess.
      Ducks are wonderful, but they should not be house pets.

      • I’m completly fine with the cleaning up of it, but once hes around 8 weeks hes gonna move out the back with my dogs into a big runner (my dogs are very friendly and won’t hurt him) But my Dad said that maybe when hes a bit older we might give him to a duck farm or our neighbors have got chickens and lots of other types of animals, would that be okay?

        • Also when i say into a runner with my dogs, i don’t mean them in the runner with him i mean outside with him, the cage will be secure and safe.

        • That’s probably best for him. Being with other birds is better than being alone, but being with other ducks is best. It will take him some time to adjust though because he’s being raised without any duck friends.

  44. Hi, I’ve come into two ducklings because someone impulsively bought them and before having them 48 hours was going to release them. I couldn’t stand the thought of them dying out there so here I am with two baby ducks and no experience.

    I don’t have much money for supply’s so right now I’m trying to be crafty with meeting their needs like making their water dish out of an old milk jug with two holes cut into the side and a paint tray for their bird bath. They are very sweet but so messy 🙂 I try to take them in the grass mid day when it’s nice and warm out (at least in Florida!) and we stay outside until they seemed tuckered out, they try to get in our pond but I’m afraid they might drown since they are so young. I want to ensure they are happy and living as naturally as possible, what are some things they eat in the wild other then snails and worms? I have chick crumble from the
    previous owner but I want to supplement with more natural diet.

    What are signs of distress? Being cold or hot? Sick or hurt? And of course behaviors of happy ducklings? It’s true the vets for water fowl are slim I haven’t found one willing to speak with me yet.

    I need help encouraging them to be more independent, encourage them to forage for bugs in the grass and other natural behaviors because I don’t think I will be able to keep them past young adulthood but we have a lake near by, I lived just off of it and noticed the ducks there don’t migrate, would this be a safe option for them? Keep in mind Florida stays fairly warm year around.

  45. i had three ducks and 2 of them died within days of each other and we are getting another duck to be with her this other duck is perfectly well but is there anything we can do to try and make her happier befoe her new friend arrives?

  46. Hi, I am on here looking for help and advice. Over the past year I’ve raised and released ducks, always in pairs. Well the very first two ducks that we ever raised were both males one was a mallard (franklin) and the other was a Rouen mallard (Fredrick) from the beginning I thought of them as pets but my boyfriend did not. Fredrick was always the more tame and friendly one. Rather than being wild like most.
    With that being said I got attached to them quickly and from the day they were born I was there feeding and taking care of them. Until one day my boyfriend said that they aren’t pets and that I needed to start putting them outside where they belong so we got a lamp and the things we needed.
    Every morning I would let them out at sunrise and then leave the door open so when it started to get dark they would go to bed. I would talk to them and interact on a daily basis as well as change their pool water every day.
    Fredrick was always trying to lunge towards me and peck at my rings and braclets while filling the pools. It made me laugh every time..
    Then after awhile he started to want to be around my legs while I changed the water.
    Long story short my boyfriend decided that since Franklin was doing his mating call they needed to be with the other ducks at the park. He is a duck hunter so I had no clue what he was doing until I told my boyfriend and he said “yeah, it’s time to take them.” So I got sad since this was my first set of ducks. But we took them and we would go every week to check on them and feed all the wild ducks for several months and they seemed soooo happy!!
    But then last week he went to check on them and he said it was really cold and that’s what made him want to go is to make sure they were doing alright. Well I came home to find that my boyfriend had brought my little man Fredrick back home (and inside the house no less) I was so shocked! He began to tell me the story that he went there just to see if they had made it through the suddend cold weeks weather. He said that when he got to the duck park that most of the ducks were on bushes and together in groups. But that Fredrick was all by himself sitting on the side of the frozen pond and shivering. He said that Fredrick lunged at him and so he picked him up. He then noticed both of his feet had bumble foot which he didnt know that until he googled it. So he decided that since his buddy had left him and found a girlfriend/flock that he wanted to bring him home to try and doctor him up.
    It’s been about 6 days now and I’ve been treating his foot and keeping him with me inside the house. Tonight I pulled out a huge thorn I figure that’s what caused the infection. It’s looking alot better and he’s putting a little weight on that foot now so I’m about to start the treatment on the other foot once he can put more pressure on the fixed one.
    He gets talkitive when he hears/ sees me and what I’m wondering is that if I decide to just keep him how long can he be without having a buddy/ girlfriend? No one in my area has ducklings until the spring and we just released our last two a month ago.
    I my honest opinion on why he was alone all the time is because he’s ALOT bigger than the others and he doesn’t view himself the same as the other ducks. He has bugs also now so it’s something that I don’t want to deal with I just don’t know what to do once I get him over the bumble foot. Please give me advice.

    • Hi.

      Do not let your duck loose in the park. He was probably alone all the time because he is a domestic duck, and not a wild one. With the exception of call ducks, domestic ducks can’t fly and so are likely to be killed by a dog or other predator. They are domestic animals, like chickens and cows, so they should never be released.

      Since he grew up with another duck, he should be OK, although he will definitely be lonely without another duck. Ducks can live for a very long time – my oldest lived to be 17 years old. Your best bet is to find him some other domestic duck company as soon as possible, or find someplace else for him to live where they have domestic ducks.

  47. Hi, Just a day ago i have purchased a duck from a local pet shop, and i have a few questions… starting with is it ok to have a single baby duck or does it need a mate? I also have bought a big bag full of duck food and is there anything else i can feed it besides the basic duck food? Its kind of cute cause everytime I’m away from it, it starts crying like i’m its daddy haha. Also a few important tips would be nice since it’s my first time taking care of one.

    Where are you located? Petshops have NO BUSINESS selling livestock!!!

    • Hello.

      Either get one or two more ducks for company or give the one you have BACK. Keeping a single duck really is cruel to the duck. DO NOT keep a duck as a housepet – it is NOT fair to the duck.

      I do NOT condone keeping ducks as housepets or keeping them in the city. If you have an acreage or farm that’s different, but if you don’t live in the country then GIVE THE DUCK BACK. They can live as long as 20 years. Are you prepared to look after it for that long?

  48. Hello I have a single duck…. Not by choice her partner and her belonged to my neighbours who basically abandoned them one was frozen solid and her she was frozen in and fading fast I broke her free and she appears to have slight hypothermia… I have a few questions one is she pants sometimes why would that be? Also she seems to have bumblefoot I think its called how can I help her? I plan on getting her a mate so she isnt alone but until then what can I do to make sure she is comfy and happy also how can I tell if she is happy? Sorry I know thats alot at once but Im new to the whole duck thing any advice would be wonderful thank you

    • Hi!

      Ducks have pretty amazing powers of recovery. How long have you had her?

      Without knowing more about your situation and how she is housed/living, I’d say that panting usually means a duck is hot. If she’s gone from being outside 24/7 to a heated space, she’s probably hot. Generally speaking, adult ducks prefer a cool environment – not freezing, but cool enough that you’d want a sweater.

      The “bumblefoot” may be frostbite. If she was frozen into water it is likely that part of her foot froze. Other than keeping her relatively clean, there is little you can do: let it run its course. There may be something you could give her for pain, but I’m not a vet so couldn’t tell you what, or how much. A word of caution: most vets know very little about poultry generally and waterfowl in particular. They can NOT be treated the same way as caged birds, and ducks are especially sensitive to any drugs given in the water because they drink so much more water than most other kinds of birds. I would err on the side of caution and not give her any drugs. If it is frostbite, she may end up loosing toes or even the whole foot. I’ve had a few like that. I’ve had both a duck (Peggy) and a guinea fowl (Legolas) lose a foot to frostbite. Both were older when it happened and both still lived quite a while after.

      Since you don’t really have a choice, do the best you can as far as keeping her happy. Try and keep her somewhere where she can see/be outside at least part of the time, let her bath occasionally (make sure her regular water dish is deep enough that she can wash her eyes), and try and make sure she can spend time with other critters/people when possible. I think most animals will make the best of whatever situation they find themselves in – if she is active, clean, talkative, and has a good appetite, then she’s probably OK.

      Hope that helps. Good Luck!

  49. i have a call duck reared from an egg i feed her with everything you should feed the duck on from her coming out of the egg to now witch she is 8 weeks old she folloes me every were i have tried to put her outside with my other call duck’s she dosen’t even know what they are she is with me constantly i cannot leave her or she sreams her head of if she cannot see me she will not go to any one else including my husband.

    also when ever she poo’s i clean it up straight away my house dose not smell i put her every day in the bath so how can any you say this is cruel to keep this duck she gets looked after better than some kids do.
    so is this an happy or uhappy duck i also take her out into my garden but she will not go near the other 2 call duck’s she run’s away from them she is obssed with me so should i take anyone’s advice and shove her with them what she dosen’t even recognise as been duck’s she dosen’t even know that she is a duck she also sit’s with me gose to sleep on me or she sleeps at my feet untill i move then up she gets from her sleep run’s straight after me she even try’s kissing me .
    i would call this love and attention from both.

    • I am glad you are not forcing your duck to wear diapers.

      I’m not saying you are being willfully cruel, but I do think there is a certain egotism in assuming that an animal will like whatever a human does. It is one thing to end up with a duckling or other bird that must be raised in isolation; it is another thing entirely to PURPOSEFULLY do that to a bird.

      I think that we have a responsibility, as far as is possible, to provide our animals with a life that suits THEM and their needs rather than US and ours. If we are not prepared to do that, we should not have the animals.

      Over the years I’ve had the occasional bird that was raised in isolation. They never develop the way normal birds do. With ducks especially, if they are prevented from imprinting on other ducks, they never seem learn that they ARE ducks. As a result, they may never be able to live like ducks. I don’t believe animals think much about their lot in life – they just get by and make the best of whatever situation they find themselves in. The reason she runs away from the other ducks is that she never got the chance to learn that she IS a duck, so they are strange (and therefor frightening) to her.
      One reason she is so ‘obsessively’ attached to you is that you are the only thing she knows is safe. She never got the chance to learn otherwise, and she never got the chance to form attachments with other birds (which is a natural and necessary part of growing up for a duck). It has more to do with wanting to be safe than with true love. Ducks are prey animals, which means that they must constantly be on the lookout for danger. In a flock, they take turns, so no one duck needs to be on the look-out all the time. A duck alone must be constantly vigilant. The only time your duck can relax at all is when she’s with you, so of course she will want to be with you all the time.

      It would be like having a human baby raised in the woods and then taking it into the city. We know from human cases that if a child does not get the kind of socialization that is appropriate and normal growing up, they do not grow up normally. Some things can really only be learned during certain times growing up. This is also true of animals.

      We have a tendency to anthropomorphize animals, and so we attribute human desires and feelings to animals without actually trying to understand things from the animal’s point of view. While I know that many animals form deep attachments, they do not love in the same way we do, nor do “kisses” mean the same thing as human kisses.

      Ducks can live a very long time – I have one who is now 16. Taking on an isolated duck is a long term commitment. I wish the best.

  50. just a quick question about duck behavior, i have two muscovy’ s they follow me everywhere and i mean everywhere, they refuse to be left outside in their pen without me and cuddle up under my arm when i sit down on the floor and groom me, would that be classed as instinctual behavior or is it affection?

    • It’s certainly instinctive behaviour for a juvenile duck but it’s not how most ‘normal adult ducks’ behave. That having been said, just because it’s not normal behaviour doesn’t mean it’s wrong, bad, or necessarily unhealthy.

      I think animals (including ducks) can certainly bond with each other as well as with us and with other species. I hesitate to call it love (I notice you use the word affection) because love is a very complex thing – I’m not sure we really know how to define it for people, never mind animals. Affection is probably a good word.

      I don’t see any reason why it can’t be both instinct AND affection. Just because it’s instinct doesn’t mean it lacks emotion.

      Other than during breeding season, ducks tend to live in fairly large flocks so it would stand to reason that two ducks would want to stay close to who-ever they see as their ‘flock’. What’s probably instinct is their need to not be alone.

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