Do Ducks Make Good Pets?

It’s hard to resist their cute waddles and iconic quacks, but do ducks make good pets? Here’s what you should know.

Do ducks make good pets?
Yes, pet ducks — especially the young ones, like this mallard duckling, are adorable. But are you really prepared for the commitment? Photo: Alexas_Fotos

Thinking about getting a pet duck?

Yes, they are adorable. Their little waddles, mighty quacks and cute little faces all shout, “Please take me home.”

But is a pet duck the right pet for you? This article aims to give you a brief overview into keeping a duck as a pet.

Pet Duck: The Basics of Caring for One

A pet duck doesn’t seem nearly as cuddly as some of the more traditional pets out there.

A cat will lie in your lap (or on your head), and a dog will curl up beside you and help protect your home.

What exactly does a pet duck do?

Ducks are actually quite intelligent. They socialize with one another, learn tricks, play with toys, give kisses and even cuddle when they learn how.

When handled with proper care, a pet duck will bond with you and be a best pal.

Because ducks are so intelligent, they need the companionship of other ducks. Although humans are great friends, only another duck can really understand the duck’s life.

It’s acceptable to get 2 males or 2 females if you don’t want to face the prospect of your pair mating and producing a gaggle of wee duckies. But to be truly happy, ducks need a mate.

Pet Assure puts it this way: “Never keep just one duck; this is cruel.”

If you’re getting a female and a male, think ahead about how you will handle a possible “duck dynasty.”

And if you get ducklings to raise, understand that it is notoriously difficult to sex a duck when they’re still small. You may end up not getting quite the pair you wanted. To avoid this, try getting a duck that is a little older and easier to sex.

Here’s a guy who takes his pet duck shopping with him:

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Protecting Your Pet Duck From Predators Outside

Be aware that ducks are natural prey to many predators.

Coyotes, foxes, dogs and even cats will try to snatch your feathered friend at every opportunity, so prepare a safe and sturdy place for your ducks to live.

For the first couple of months before they molt, they’ll need to be kept warm and safe indoors. Once they have their feathers, they will be happiest outside.

Plus, although ducks are adorable, they poop a lot — not always something you want to be cleaning up constantly in your home.

Remember, if you are taking on the responsibility of caring for a pet duck, you are also taking on the responsibility of protecting them. In the wild, ducks can escape to a body of water or take to the air.

In your backyard, they have nowhere to go with a secure habitat. Your enclosure should be roomy enough for your duck family to walk and run around and insulated enough that they will not overheat in the summer or freeze in the winter.

Ducks are hardy, but they do need a place to escape the elements and the predators. Keep in mind that some predators are also intelligent and will dig under a poorly reinforced fence or enclosure.

Ducks love to swim, but if you include a kiddie pool that has a way for them to get in and out, they’ll be delighted.

pet duck
Ducks are poorly suited to being indoor pets. Photo: Derrick Coetzee

Pet Ducks: Consider the Commitment

Ducks make good outdoor pets.

They are smart, fun and enjoyable to watch. Their food is relatively cheap, and they also enjoy eating greens. This is wonderful for weed control — but watch out for your garden.

As with any pet, a duck is a commitment of time and energy as you accommodate their needs. A pet duck needs to be protected and sheltered from predators and from the environment.

Speak with your avian veterinarian about getting a duck and what kind of commitment this will entail. The vet can tell you about special behaviors to watch for, what type of duck would be best for you and what health concerns might arise.

Take note: Domesticated ducks should never be released into the wild. A domesticated duck can potentially carry diseases to which wild ducks have no immunity. A domesticated duck also may not have learned the skills needed to survive in the wild.

“You cannot just cut them loose,” bird rescuer Donna Jones told The Baltimore Sun.

The newspaper reported that “even those [dumped birds] that are able to fly don’t know where to go or what environment to seek because they are accustomed to quarters with food, shelter and water.”

So, if you just can’t contain the urge to raise a pet duck (or a whole lot of them), then make sure you are committed to seeing it through.

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