Help! 12 week old Muscovy Drakes & How to Curb Aggression?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by MelanieS, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. Hello!

    I have 2 Muscovies who are now 12 weeks old. I have hand raised them since they were 3 days old. I believe that they are drakes due to their large size, large feet & deep hissing (with no indication of any pipping). Up until about 2 weeks ago, they were not showing any signs of aggression & would just approach me (they free range) to say hello & get treats. Now they approach me & seem to be challenging me by deep hissing (as opposed to their regular hissing), and a lot of tail wagging and neck extending (in comparison to 2 weeks ago). They will eventually calm down and take treats but if I try to touch them, they will focus intently on the arm petting them & they nip it. Infrequently, they get so worked up that they start vibrating uncontrollably.

    There is so much conflicting information online and really not that much comprehensive info on Muscovies. I have been searching for help for these past 2 weeks but nothing seems to help, so I am asking if there is a way for me to nip this blooming aggression in the bud? Since they are not near puberty yet, I do not believe this is hormonal yet? I did mount one of the males today though, just to see if it helped. I have been attempting a zero tolerance policy and as soon as a duck nips me, I pick him up and carry him around for around 5 minutes. The ducks seem scared of me afterward but it doesn't seem to deter them later on.

    They still eat politely from my hand and will come to my call and follow me if I try to get them to. They don't seem to be aggressive with each other yet. Some sources I have read said that it is fine to have two males, as long as I don't add in any females. Some sources said to get them some females but add no more males ever and still others have said that no males will ever get along with each other. So there's that.

    These are my pets and I will try anything to keep them. I do not and will not eat them.

    Is this just part of their maturing? Are they just distancing themselves from their "mother" (it is around this age that the mother Muscovy would stop caring for them)? I totally don't mind just having aloof ducks hanging around the yard (as in, I don't need to pet them) but I'm just worried that they may start attacking or nipping when unprovoked.

    Thoughts? Advice? Thanks!
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    I think it is kind of a rite of passage, and you do need to manage it. Miss Lydia went through this with her boy she raised mostly in the house for several months, if I recall correctly. So I hope she has a chance to check in soon.

    She has Muscovies. I have runners, and never raised a boy although we did adopt a Buff drake and two girls last year. Drakes sure are different. [​IMG]
  3. Luminide

    Luminide Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 6, 2013
    Northeast Indiana
    Oh god, I'm dealing with this right now. I have two males, two females, same age as yours and also hand raised. One of the males, Cassio, is perfectly chill and sweet. But his brother, Pepito, same age, size, everything...I currently have battle scars from him. A half dollar sized bruise on my leg, several cuts, and a recovering infection on my finger that I thought I had control of. I'm not entirely sure what the deal is, since he doesn't treat any of the other ducks this way- just humans and the dogs.

    I was told that holding their beak closed and saying 'no' firmly was supposed to help. It certainly doesn't with Pepe. In fact, no matter how 'firmly' I say it, it just seems to make him more angry.

    Completely fearless, that duck. If he stays like this through adulthood, he'll be as bad as a dinosaur.
    I'll be watching this intently and let you know if I find something that works.
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    It's pretty typical behaviour and even more so of drakes kept as pets. I wouldn't pick them up, i would shove them out of the way if they start doing something you dislike. I seem to always be drake heavy here lol but i mainly keep two for my flock. Regardless, none EVERY try that with me, they step back if i come through, i must remain dominate duck/drake, i am head of the flock, you never should be mean with drakes but they do not understand the lines if you allow them "in your pocket" then they consider you a member of the flock to be dominate over.

    I realize yours are pets, mine are farm ducks so i have no need to pet them nor have them eat from my hand, they herd for me and i can if i have to pick them up for medical care or an exam. I have found with drakes you must be very cautious with this pet concept, they really don't get it very well. I just happily talk to mine and they go about their business, i go about mine. FWIW i currently have 7 drakes(all Muscovy) ranging from 6mths to 3mths(as well as my two mature ones) and 1 call duck drake, so i do know drakes pretty well lol
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  5. Luminide: I agree, holding their bills closed definitely just works them up more. Same with pushing them out of the way.

    Going Quackers: That's what I figured. I've been trying the "if you don't love me, at least fear me" route with them too and I guess that's probably how we'll end up. By that I just mean that I intentionally walk toward them and make sure they get out of my way and I've been trying to limit "quality time". I suppose it's just sort of sad though to have them change so quickly from happy little ducks eating out of my hand and sitting on my lap to ducks that run when I come near. So, if I continue to be top drake do you think that will limit their urge to be aggressive when they sexually mature?
  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    I still have to put my drake in his place at times, he just forgets. My other 2 drakes I didn't have in the house so they are very respectful, this one 2yrs old was my baby for the first 3 months of his life so he just had a hard time realizing I was Not going to be part of his Harem, what i do is pin him to the ground just like I saw his daddy do to him when he would challenge him. I just pin him down on his belly side not his back and hold him till he stops fighting, if he comes at me again after I let him up I do it again. He finally just waddles off. I can still pet him and cuddle him but not when he is acting like an idiot. biting me and grabbing hold of me. 2 drakes can live together fine one will be dominant though just like in a flock. And you have to be the dominant duck in their lives, this doesn't mean hurting them it just means not taking their stuff off them.
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  7. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    They will still be fond of you, but sadly drakes are well, real charged i guess to put it simply, there may be times you have to re-establish your standing but it can be done pretty easily. Mine don't outright fear me, but they move, i never do, know what i mean? It's hard, i have some we raised in my house and they were quite the pets, eat out of your hand, carry etc but now are with the flock at 3mths and know the boundaries, frankly, it makes a happy drake to know his place, they are flock animals and that order is important.

    When they reach sexual maturity ensuring your status is important, as they will fight for their place, i have some young guys here that are tossing things in the air, and definitely keeping my older guys on their toes but they don't challenge me. I have physically removed a good 12+lb drake on many an occasion when his behaviour was over the top with my ladies. Most times if i shout out or start to come they know to step off because i will be ending the nonsense.

    Drakes can be a good addition in a flock but they do liven things up, but don't get me wrong i have a few ladies here who for sure, like to stir the pot lol but drakes are a different beast for sure.
  8. Just an update that nothing seems to have helped and their attacks have now gotten to be real attacks. Flying at me or diving at me to bite my boots. Or diving and trying to bite my hands if I pick anything up. Meeting me at the car, following me to the house and staring in the windows by the doors. I've tried picking them up, I've tried mounting them, I've tried just not interacting with them, I've tried feeding them treats. Right now, I'm almost too scared to interact with them. I let them out in the morning and then leave as quickly as I can. I put them in at night as quickly as possible too. One of them attacked my hand as I was filling up his water dish. Spraying him with the hose wouldn't even stop him. I just went outside on the front steps and one of them came up and attacked my boots (I only wear high boots around them because they like to attack legs) and I couldn't stop him. I had to rush in the house and close the door. He flew up at the screen door and got stuck. I have no idea what to do. I really don't want to give these guys up and have them get eaten. I'm wary of getting any females in case it doesn't help.
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    I'm so sorry to hear this, sounds like they are frustrated but I can't imagine why they are being so aggressive towards you, to this extreme, since I have never had just drakes maybe they have fixated on you as their mate, they can be pretty rough on the girls. Have you tried taking the broom with you and when one comes at you giving him a swift push or lift off with the broom. To be able to keep them your going to have be more assertive. Keeping the broom with you at all times and not letting them get close may work to show them your not going to put up with their meanness. When my drake thought I was one of his girls he would jump on me and also climb up my leg or if I was sitting down he would climb up my back, crazy thing Honestly I had to be pretty tough with him, but we have a great relationship now. You cannot be weak and afraid though.
  10. This was great advice - thanks so much! I just went out with the broom to walk around and initially they kept approaching me. One of the guys got so close that I raised the broom and he resisted and then attacked the broom. Once he realized that attacking it was doing it nothing, he got scared and ran away and now they are both running when I wave the broom near them! This may not solve everything but it certainly helps me get the upper hand back for now. I know that I can't be scared and I wasn't until the last two big attacks that seemed to come from nowhere. They're just so unpredictable and crazed right now. I'll keep you updated! Thanks!
    1 person likes this.

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