So you want a pet duck....


May 23, 2016
New Hampshire
Just came across this article. Blunt, but something every person considering getting ducks should read.

Before you add a duck to your family, please read these 20 facts about living with a duck:

Ducks reach full size in about five weeks. They are cute and fluffy for two weeks, and then they grow up.

They can live between 10 and 20 years—and sometimes longer—depending on the breed.

Ducks poop everywhere. You cannot train them to relieve themselves in a certain area.

You can’t raise a duck and release him or her into the wild. Mallards are wild ducks. Most other ducks were domesticated by humans. That means they no longer have wild instincts, can’t migrate, and are usually too fat to fly.
It can be illegal to own wild ducks without a permit, and it’s illegal to release domestic ducks on public land. In some areas, it’s considered abandonment and can result in cruelty charges. It’s also a death sentence for the ducks, as those raised by humans can’t fend for themselves in the wild. (And did you know that bread is bad for ducks? It lacks the basic nutrients that they need in order to grow and thrive.)

Avian veterinarians who are qualified to treat your special companion are few and far between. You may find a vet who treats parakeets but not one who will treat your duck. If you do find one, expect to spend $80 to $120 for a basic check-up.

There is a reason why the term “sitting duck” was coined. Ducks need predator-proof pens with hardware cloth on all the sides, including the top and bottom. They must be in these secure pens from dusk to sunrise in some areas and at all times in other areas. Secure pens that you build yourself start at around $300. Your property is not an exception simply because you haven’t seen a predator on it or you live on a pond. Raccoons reach through chicken-wire and climb over chain-link with ease. Eagles and hawks don’t need to carry off your duck—they can just grab a piece of him or her and do a lot of damage that way.

You won’t be able to take a vacation for the next 10 to 20 years—or more—because there’s no such thing as a duck sitter. You will realize this too late, when your vacation is already planned. Ducks require complicated care. Note: None of your friends or family wants to watch your duck while you’re on vacation. They asked me to tell you that.

“Ducks are more maintenance than the space shuttle.” Bob Tarte wrote that line in his book Enslaved by Ducks. Believe him. Don’t get a duck. Just read his book instead.

Ducks are extremely emotional—more emotional than cats and dogs. If you raise one duck and that duck depends on you, you can’t leave him or her alone for even one day without the duck missing you and getting upset, depressed, or scared when you’re gone. Don’t do that to a duck. Ducks need duck friends.
Ducks are time-consuming. They need twice-daily care for at least a half-hour each time, every day of the year, rain or shine. They won’t thrive unless they get much more of your time than that. But that is the bare minimum amount of time required twice a day, every single day, without fail.

Ducks don’t think that you should have hobbies. Want to meet friends for dinner? You have to put your duck away before dusk first. Want to have brunch on a Saturday? You need to clean the duck ponds first. Like to knit, sew, paint, listen to music, go to the movies, watch TV, play games, or ride a bike? Forget it. Your sole “hobby” if you have a duck … is your duck. That’s it.

Do you live with your parents? Absolutely do not get a duck. You think you’ll keep the duck forever, but you will grow up and get interested in your friends or go to college. And you can’t keep a duck in your dorm room. Your parents absolutely do not want to care for your duck while you’re on a date or away at school. Your parents will give your duck away and tell you that he or she died. Seriously. They told me to tell you that. Don’t get a duck until you own your own home, can pay vet bills on your own, and can afford food and amenities for your duck.

Do you rent your home or live in an apartment? Every year, thousands of people get ducks, only to give them up because their landlord, girlfriend, boyfriend, parents, or neighbors complained. Giving up a duck means that the duck will probably be euthanized or will suffer. Do not get a duck first and then research whether or not you’re allowed to have one.

Some ducks are extremely loud, too loud for neighbors. Way, way too loud. Trust me on this.

Do you have a dog? Is he old and friendly? Wouldn’t hurt a fly? You’re wrong. Your duck will panic and flap in a way that will engage your dog’s innate prey instinct. Your dog will pick up your duck and shake him or her to death while you watch in horror. Yes, your sweet little dog will do that. Your dog is not an exception. And it will be your fault, not your dog’s. Your dog is just being a dog. Don’t get a duck if you have a dog. Your duck will taunt your dog. Your duck will chase and bite your dog until your dog bites him or her back. That will also be your fault. Your duck is just being a duck.

Your duck is social and needs duck friends. Your duck does not want to live with just you. Your duck needs other ducks, and more ducks means more poop. (See number two above.)

Every duck is a unique individual. Ducks are particular and don’t automatically get along with other ducks. Two male ducks can kill each other. Too many male ducks can kill a female duck. Larger ducks will pick on smaller ducks, and stronger ducks will try to kill weaker or injured ducks.

Ducks bite. Some male ducks bite all the time. They don’t bite because they’re mean. They bite because they love you. They bite hard. They bruise. They constantly bite your ankles, hands, arms, feet, and face. You must wear long sleeves and long pants and socks and shoes in order to visit your duck. 100 degrees outside? Make sure you’re wearing long pants and long sleeves if you’re going visit your duck. Muscovy ducks have a ridge to their beak that can tear your skin off. Muscovy drakes often also protect their territory and may decide that you’re a threat. Then they attack you. They fly at you and beat their wings at you—their wing span is 6 feet—bruising you and giving you welts. Their talons can be 1.5 inches long, and they’ll try to claw at you in midair. They bite and tear at you and can chase you down faster than you can run away.

Ducks make a huge mess when they eat. Duck food attracts rats and mice. In some areas, mice attract snakes, lots of snakes. Duck poop attracts flies. Having a pet duck means having rats and flies. It’s a package deal. Your neighbors will love that. Think you can kill the rats? Poison them, and they’ll die in your duck pond, poisoning the water that your ducks drink. Or their carcasses will attract predators. Try to trap and release them instead. Come wintertime, you can find them conveniently living in the roof of your house or in your basement for warmth.

Having a duck means hearing awful horror stories from everyone around you. People will think that because you have a duck, you must really want to hear their story about how a duck flew into their windshield. Or how their dog brought a duck in through the doggie door and spattered blood all over the walls! Or how their neighbor’s kid had a duckling but dropped the little bird on his or her head, and the animal had seizures and vomited before dying. Or how your neighbors had ducks, but raccoons climbed into their pen and ate them. Or how someone’s grandma had ducks and killed and plucked and cooked and served them for dinner. Or how a hawk flew down and ripped into a duck, but no one ever took the animal to a veterinarian. Or how there’s this duck at the park who limps and drags his or her body along, but that’s just nature! Gosh, aren’t those stories great? People can’t wait to share their duck stories! (All of these are actual stories told to me by people who could not wait to share their wonderful duck anecdote.)
Horrible duck stories will give you nightmares—except you’ll dream that your own duck is suffering or in danger or being eaten or being maimed. You will have this nightmare a lot.
You will worry about your duck every day that you have him or her.

If you’ve made it to the end of this list and you still think you’re the awesome saintly exception who is going to provide a duck with a super-safe, loving home, please adopt or rescue a duck instead of hatching or buying one. So many homeless ducks are in need of great forever homes.

A version of this article was originally published on
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Some of these I agree with, some I don't. For instance the one that says ducks require complicated care and you'll never be able to find anyone to do it - not really. Fill a feeder, fill their waterer, change their pool. Done for the day. I go on vacation and my cousin is happy to do this in exchange for the eggs they lay while I'm gone.

Also not entirely true about dogs. Will some attack them? Absolutely. Will they all? Nope. I have a retriever, a breed literally bred to go after and pick up ducks, and he doesn't bother them a bit. The ducks don't bite or bother him either.

They've never interfered with my other hobbies. Sure, my main hobby is poultry, but I also have others, and ducks have never stopped me from doing them.

They also don't all bite. If you have a duck that is biting you, something is wrong. If a male duck is biting you all the time because he sees you as a mate, then he needs proper mates to, well, mate with, and take his attention off you. And if a duck was ever viciously attacking me like was listed in this article, it'd be gone as fast as a rooster that did the same thing, but I've never had that happen.

I've also never had rats. Flies, yes. Rats, no.

I've also never had anyone tell me horror stories about ducks. About being chased by aggressive male ducks, yes, one person told me a story about that, as he was appreciating the fact that my ducks are nothing like that, but that's all I've ever heard.

I also just caught the part about giving up a duck automatically means it's going to be euthanized or suffer. Why? Give it to someone who already has a flock of ducks. Lots of people do that all the time. Heck, I've taken in ducks like that.

Everything else seems to be (mostly) accurate.

This article kinds of feels to me like an attempt to scare people off from having ducks and it isn't altogether that honest about some of the things mentioned.
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True. But I also think that any of those things COULD and have happened, and as the wife of a veterinarian, I do believe that along with the "Oh my (insert animal here) is so cute and cuddly and easy to care for", prospective pet owners (and breeding humans!) should know the absolute worst case scenarios so they can make informed decisions.
As a veterinary student, I do agree that people should know what they're getting into before getting any animal. But this article exaggerates a lot on most of those points. For instance the remark that a duck is going to require an hour a day of care. I have somewhere around 100 birds, multiple species, multiple pens and coops. On an average day it takes me 15-30 minutes to care for all of them, and that's in the spring when I also have multiple brooders full of babies to care for as well. I just don't know what you could be doing every day with one or two ducks that would require an hour to take care of them. Or where it says that all dogs will attack and kill a duck and there's no exception. It's the extreme exaggerating I don't like.
Oh, wow... I haven't had to read through that much text to find little bits of truth in a long time...

I agree 100% with Pyxis... and those aren't 'worst case scenarios', those are the most highly unlikey of events I have ever heard... having ANY pet is a longtime obligation and any RESPONSIBLE pet owner will research and learn the facts properly... and caring for ducks is actually much easier than caring for chickens, hands down... they are messier for sure, but proper management, setup, housing and care works wonders...

Btw, IF a duck or drake becomes aggressive, they tend to attack low while roosters usually attack high... much more dangerous to have an aggressive rooster than an aggressive duck/druck... but proper animal husbandry can prevent that as well...

And a dog that has been properly trained will not just go after animals because of a sudden movement... if that happens, then the dog and owner need some new training...
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I only have 4 ducks and in reality it would take me about 15 minutes twice a day to fill their food dish, change their pool and drinking water and clean up a bit. But because I chose to get my ducks as pets, I think it's important to spent as much time with them as I can.
I could also leave a dog outside in a run and spend 5 minutes a day filling his food and water bowls (and some people do this), but it's not why I got a pet.
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I only have 4 ducks and in reality it would take me about 15 minutes twice a day to fill their food dish, change their pool and drinking water and clean up a bit. Butbecause I chose to get my ducks as pets, I think it's important to spent as much time with them as I can.
I could also leave a dog outside in a run and spend 5 minutes a day filling his food and water bowls (and some people do this), but it's not why I got a pet.

I'm not saying I don't spend a lot of time outside with my birds - I do. I have them because I enjoy them. I'm out there all the time sitting with them, taking pictures of them, feeding them healthy treats, etc etc. But the actual 'work' portion of taking care of them, which this article was talking about, takes me 30 minutes on an average day, maybe 45 if there's a lot I have to do. Of course there are days when I have to do coop cleanouts and things like that and that can easily eat up three or four hours but on average, it takes half an hour a day to feed, water, and collect their eggs.

And please don't feel attacked - we just don't want misinformation to spread and new duck owners to get scared and freaked out and potentially get rid of their ducks because they think all this is going to happen.
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I understand the aim of original post, but also understand the other points of view. How many times have we all read about people getting a duck and not realizing how much was involved? I mean seriously, ducklings in feed stores are one of the most irresistible things on the planet! Especially to someone who has never raised one!

So I appreciate the sentiment of the idea and even the humor expressed, but realistically, I think its so exaggerated, it loses the effectiveness. And instead of just encouraging folks to think before becoming a duck owner, it could scare people off. I want people to have ducks! And I want responsible owners who understand what it means to keep them. But everyone's circumstances are different and these facts are just not across the board accurate.
Just wanted to add, I've come across this article before, and I believe it was on a PETA website. I personally think very negatively of PETA, they believe owning pets at all is wrong, that we shouldn't have domesticated animals.

The idea that owning ducks means you can never do anything else for 10-20 years is just silly, on a bad day (like if I'm sick) it'll only take me maybe 30 minutes out of the day to look after them, usually I spend more time with them because they're pets and I love hanging out with them, they're cute and silly.

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