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Worried/confused Newbie SOS

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hey, everyone!

     So, I have two Pekin ducklings around 5-6 days old. This is my first time owning ducks, so obviously I don't know much.

They are currently living in an old guinea pig cage inside my house (yes, I cleaned the cage) and I am using a puppy pad underneath paper bedding. In order to try to keep them dry from the HUGE messes they make, I give them new bedding in the morning, as well as at night. I am feeling them non-medicated chick starter mash and their water is half fresh water, half electrolyte/probiotic mix. Whenever I need to fill their food or water, which is often, I clean everything out.They sneeze on occasion but have no discharge. They also have a container deep enough to stick their heads in to clean their nares and eyes, this it is too small for them to get in it. Their poop is normal and I swear they are both growing by the second. I turn away for a minute in their bigger. It's insane. I take them outside for about an hour every day when it is warm (90-95 degrees) to let them run around and just be ducks. Today when I took them outside, they had a blast running after flies and napping in the sun. They have an infrared heating lamp, but this is where it gets tricky. 


     While Arnold shows no indication of overheating and is perfectly happy basking in the light, Felix seems to overheat VERY easily. Felix will start breathing rapidly and start panting mildly. When I see this, I move the cage away from the lamp and put Felix's feet and legs in some water to cool him down, that seems to do the trick. Today Felix scared me half to dead because this got so bad. He/she does not have any wheezing or clicking when they breathe, but Felix seems to have irregular breathing habits. While Arnold takes consistent, paced breaths, Felix will go from breathing at a good pace to breathing faster. Of course, I could be overthinking all of this, but still, it makes me worried. Despite the odd breathing, Felix is perfectly healthy and is actually the bigger of the two by a landslide although they are the sam age. They are both eating and drinking like they normally do.I currently have the cage about two feet away from the lamp, but the lamp is pointing in their direction.


     Does anyone know what could be causing Felix's rapid breathing and sensitivity to heat and how to fix this? I want to make sure they are warm, but I dont want to roast them. Also, the both of them stick out one leg out behind them and it seems like they are streching, is this normal? Any feedback, advice, or suggestions about raising ducklings would be deeply appreciated, as I love these ducks so much and they have quickly become my whole world. They have both imprinted on my and follow my around when we are outside. Arnold and Felix bring me so much joy and all I really want to do is make sure I am giving them the best care I possibly can. Thank you so much for reading all of those and I hope I get to read your replies soon!

post #2 of 5

Do you have a thermometer in the enclosure? They can overheat. Make sure there is a warm spot, but plenty of room for them to get out from under the lamp if they want...and that the rest of the enclosure isn't super hot or humid either.  My two used to pant when they were hot/anxious/excited....I used to worry but I would check the temp, leave them alone, and they always settled down. And stretching the leg out when resting is normal too.....I used to love when they did that as babies. 

post #3 of 5

It sounds like a pair of lucky ducks to have such a loving mama (or papa). Have you actually checked to see what the temperature is in the cage? At this age they should be at about 85 degrees. When I was raising mine I had a bigger problem keeping the brooder from getting too hot. I'd say put a thermometer at the same level where the ducklings are and see how hot it is. If it's too hot you can move the lamp further away, turn it off for short periods, or get a dimmer switch.


Also, the sticking out the leg thing is totally normal. They're just doing a little ducky yoga. :lol:

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you KrisCVT and lomine!:love I do have a thermometer in there; is it reading at 86 degrees. Today they seem much more stable. I realized that the infrared bulb was too high in terms of watts for the amount of ducklings, their size, and brooder size, so I turned the lamp off for about an hour today to let them and the surrounding area cool down a bit. The both of them seemed fine with this. I have moved the lamp up and away from them even more (about 3 feet from the bedding) and this seems to be working well! The lamp is really only aimed at the half of the cage that doesn't have the food and water. To ensure that they have a cool side to escape to if things are still getting too hot, I cover the half of the cage with the food and water with a towel on top to help block the heat from entering. The towel is only on the top and is not covering the sides, so there is still good ventilation. I have no idea if this well help but hey! It's worth a shot! :idunno  The way I look at it is the lamp is the size and the towel a sun umbrella. If anyone has tried this, please tell me how it went. 

P.S. I've found that harp music makes them so relaxed that they fall asleep, what funny little animals!

post #5 of 5

I started last year with 2 Rouen, they hated the heat light. I used a puppy play pen for them, with the light 3-4 feet from the floor. They still stayed away from it.


I have 2, week old Pekin this year that I use a dog crate for and I am not using the lamp for them. I have them in my office and I am using a space heater to maintain the room to a comfortable temp for them. They are thriving


My experience is that you have to figure out what your babies like and need.

Best of luck to you!

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