Beginner's guide to raising mandarin ducks?


Sep 25, 2020
We are about to get some mandarin ducks and were hoping to find a beginners guide to raising them.

Can they be put with Muscovy ducks? Where should they live?

Is it better to get 2 pairs or is 1 pair enough? Can they stay outside in the winter (lowest 20-30 degrees)? Do they need special food?
I know very little about Mandarin Ducks, other than
  • They are migratory ducks who live in wooded wet-lands or freshwater marshes
  • They cannot be tamed as Muscovy or Mallard ducks
  • They are extremely hard to raise, keep and breed
You must have a huge aviary with plenty of room for shrubs and small trees to grow and a pond to keep this kind of birds in a semi-appropriate manner. I wouldn't dare trying it.
Mandarins are an ornamental breed. They are not domesticated, and do not do well in with domesticated ducks.

Bare minimum size for a pair is a ten by ten aviary, and they'd need to be the only birds in there. Since they're very wild, they like cover to hide in, like branches and shrubs, etc. Two pair is better if you want to be able to sell the offspring as pairs, since you'll need unrelated birds to pair up when you sell them.

They are tree nesters, so you need special wood duck type nesting boxes for them.

The aviary needs a top, because they CAN fly (unless you get a pinioned pair, which I don't recommend) and if they get out, they're gone. They don't come back like domestic species do.
Mandarin's are easy to take care of. The only difficulty is incubating.

Mine are "tame", but not like domestic ducks. I go in the aviary at least twice a day, and they aren't flighty, etc. But they don't want to be held. Treats are key!

One pair is fine, but the more the merrier, provided there is room for them to relax.

The aviary needs to be secure. Both for flight of adults, and the babies are experts at escaping! And the more water (pond area) the better. They don't need shelter like domesticated ducks, but in the winter and spring they'll want Wood Duck Nest Boxes for laying. I do have some areas that they can escape to with cover and a heat plate. But they don't care about them. When a hawk goes by, they all head into the pond. And at night they perch in the open, so some varying sized limbs at different heights is nice (although they mostly like the one right over the pond.) They are from Japan, Korea, and China, so cold doesn't bother them a bit. In the wild, they can handle tropical heat and snow.

The Mandarin's aren't agressive, but there is a pecking order. And they are very quiet! I'm not sure about mixing them with other Domesticated ducks. Lack of stress is what produces the best breeding potential. Other ornamentals or small call ducks would probably be best.

Food is easy, but I do a mix to get the protein right (adults @ 15%). I use pellets made for ducks (non-medicated), and mix some FlockParty Garden mix. I also add some oats.

They love earth worms. And dried Mealy Worms are their normal treat. Live crickets are fun, but dried ones aren't interesting... Big chunks of cucumber floating in the pond have become a favorite too. And I pull up dandilion plants from the yard and they tear them up too. My Aviary is built on a cement slab, so I do have some chick-grit to help with the digestion of the plants and cucumbers. If you have dirt or mud, they'd be fine with that.

The Ornamental Waterfowl area on this forum is more for Mandarins.

Hope this helps!

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