Curiosity Cat's 10 secrets to safely re-homing pet ducks on craigslist


10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
Charlotte, NC Area
I've had excellent luck re-homing ducks on craigslist, from the extras in the very first order I placed from McMurray to today, four and a half years later, selling a small high-quality breeding group of magpies. And lots and lots of selling in between. I've been able to always sell with reasonable speed, and to good homes, many of which continue to send pictures and updates about their new critters even months and years later.

I've had a couple folks ask how I do it, so I thought I'd post my "secrets" here for everyone.

Curiosity Cat's 4 Straightforward Steps to Really Ducky Marketing
1. Packaging. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can just list everything they have for sale and the right people will sift through and figure out what they need and buy it. But humans--even good, kind, animal-loving humans--are much lazier than that. If you want to sell quickly, start by figuring out who is likely to want to buy your birds, and package them accordingly. Don't list ducklings, adults, drakes, and your chickens all in one post. Package the ducklings in one ad, and address it to people who want to start a flock with adorable hand-raised babies; package each drake with a group of females if possible and address the ad to people wanting a breeding flock (and refuse to sell individual hens unless you have enough to still sell the drakes with a group--bachelor drakes are hard to home). If all you have are drakes, think about who will want them--are they quiet and tame? Address your ad to people looking for a unique pet. Are they beautiful and good exterminators? Address your ad to people looking for garden companions or pond ornaments. People who want more than one thing will find all your ads, don't worry, and/or they'll make impulse buys when they arrive.
2. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Pictures sell. End of story. Skip them only if you don't care about selling your birds.
3. Set expectations. Be clear that the animals are for a good home only and that you WILL screen buyers. The right type of buyers will appreciate and honor this. The wrong type will ignore it or ignore you. Either way is fine, because you'll weed them out in the screening process.
4. End with a call to action. State clearly that interested individuals should contact you with information about the home your ducks can expect with them. Leave this open-ended--don't ask a bunch of detailed questions or say anything about an application process. If you're following my process you won't need either. But do request that basic information: This step will set you up nicely for the screening process.

Curiosity Cat's 6 Tips for Effective Screening
1. Build in a (subtle) multi-step process. People who are serious about providing a good home will not be turned off by a multi-step process. Including several exchanges will give you time to learn what you need before proceeding, and will build in enough space and time that you can easily and comfortably (without embarrassment) back out if you decide it's not the right home. Occasionally, someone will respond with a lengthy and detailed answer to your first open-ended question, immediately putting your doubts to rest about the type of home the birds can expect. If so, you can skip exactly one of the next steps. But only one--you still want to gauge whether they are sincere.
2. Rule out the no-brainers. Some people will respond with one or two vague lines about their situation. Some will just say "are they still available" or similar. These are almost never the good homes, but you can still give them an opportunity to redeem themselves by politely requesting more information about the home they're planning to provide. Do not invest much time in this--if the home is a good one, they'll immediately respond with more detail. Otherwise, they'll have just wasted as much time as you invested, so be brief and to the point. You do not need to explain yourself or defend yourself. Do not follow up if they do not respond.
3. Request more information. This is the one step you can skip if the initial contact provided you with detailed, lengthy information. Of those that provide a moderate amount of detail (including those who respond after step #2), you are not necessarily looking for pages of information or the absolutely idyllic setting. You are looking for a sincere attempt to answer your question, an indication that they either have lots of experience or are willing to learn, and a basic idea of what they're doing. For instance, "I have never had ducks, but we're trying to research them and we know they need chicken feed, forage time, adequate space, and protection from predators" is a good starting point. Anything beyond that is even better.
4. Pay attention to subtle clues. How quickly do they respond to your communications? Someone who requests information about the ducks but then takes a full week to answer my request for more information probably isn't that dedicated or organized and may not be a good home. Also look for attitude--are they cheerful about the request for information? Do they seem to understand? Or do they seem annoyed by it?
5. Draw out the email exchange. I always require (subtly) at least three email exchanges before I set anything up:
A) In response to their first email, I'll usually send back a short but friendly email requesting a little more information (I skip this step if their first email was detailed and thorough), or suggesting some resources (such as these forums or Holderread's book or my duck article) if they requested it, and asking them to contact me if they are still interested.
B) If they are prompt and polite in their response, then I'll send them another email asking them when are some convenient times to come look.
C) If they are prompt and polite again, I go ahead and set up the appointment and send my address and phone number.
6. Keep your priorities straight. I used to worry a lot about the possibility that I might be ignoring some potentially good homes, or screening out people who were actually really lovely people but just didn't "test out" very well. I don't any more, and you shouldn't either. Remember that your primary responsibility is to the ducks in your care. You are not responsible for the happiness or enjoyment of strangers you've never met. Even the nice ones. If you're not sure about them, take a pass and wait for the home you ARE sure about. If the folks you screened out are good pet owners, they'll eventually find the right ducks for them. It doesn't have to be YOUR ducks.

Of course nothing in life is 100% so I'm sure I've made some bad choices even with this methodology. And things can always change in the future that are out of my or the new owner's control. But mostly the homes I've found this way are excellent and I often get pictures, calls, emails, and other communications from the wonderful folks who are delighted with their new family members.

And. This came out much longer than I expected, and really belongs in my blog. But it's my gift to you first. You're welcome.
You're welcome! I hope it helps someone. Marketing is what I do in my "other" life and a lot of the principles are the same, even down to screening your "customers." There are good customers and bad customers in any environment.
I have to argue about what I bolded.. There have been a lot of times where I come across an older ad and I will write asking if such and such is still available.. that doesn't say I wont give them a good home.. I want to know if they ARE available or if I am wasting my time and should go look elsewhere.. so why should I go to the time to write a history and say what a nice home I can give something if it's been long gone?

Now in a perfect world people would delete their ads when they have sold/given away the critter or items that they are trying to re-home.. but most people don' i never know if they still have it or not.. and the only way I know of to find out is to ask if it's still available.
IF the seller writes back and says yes.. THEN i can go into the details of why they should sell me the critter in question

So it's a two way street.. i dont want to waste their time and i don't need them wasting mine
I completely agree. Actually, I am sending some magpies to a WONDERFUL new home this week with someone whose first email to me was "Are they still available?" That's why I always give them a second chance--by politely requesting more information (and of course, telling them yes, they are still available).

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