Do Ducks Make Good Pets?
Ducks can make very good pets as long as you understand a couple of important things about them.
First of all, ducks do not really like to be picked up in general. Over the years, I’ve known a few individuals that didn’t seem to mind, but the vast majority of ducks just don’t feel comfortable being lifted up. Ducks do like being around you and watching what you’re doing though. They like to sun themselves on a sunny hillside in your yard, and they love it when you refill their wading pool.
Some breeds of duck are friendlier than others. If you are looking for a very friendly pet duck breed, focus on the larger domestic ducks rather than more wild ducks species. The large domestic ducks don’t fly, which makes keeping them very simple and easy. They are also used to being a part of a farm or homestead and so they adapt well to a backyard flock.
Ducks should live outdoors and have access to grassy areas and water in which they can swim and clean themselves.
In my current flock, my favorite duck-friends are my Anconas, Cayugas, and Rouens. The leader of my flock is a female Rouen, who I call ‘Double Tuft’ because she has two little pompom like tufts on the back of her head. She walks right up to people and loudly quacks away, voicing all her thoughts. Rouens originated in France and are beautiful ducks. They look like traditional mallards but are about twice as big and very friendly. Males have bright green heads and dramatic silver and wine coloring, and females are brown with the fancy azure-blue stripe of color on their lower wings.
Cayugas are beautiful ducks too – pure black, but when the sunlight hits them at different angles the feathers sheen green and purple. They are also quite friendly, and Cayugas lay gray colored eggs which are a lot of fun.
Ancona Ducks are mostly white but with black splotches. Some people say these are the friendliest of the duck breeds. Because the black markings are different on each duck, the individual Anconas in your flock are easy to tell apart.
A big white duck with a bright orange bill and big orange feet is what usually comes to mind when one thinks of a pet duck – and that breed is a Pekin Duck. Pekins are large, pure white ducks and are also very friendly. Our head drake, or male duck, is a big six-year-old Pekin named Teddy. He tries to avoid allowing people to pick him up, but once you do manage to catch him; he does not mind sitting on your lap for a while. Teddy is heavy and has almost mind-blowing thick feathering.
The White or Black Crested Duck is another great pet duck option. They are big and have a funny, and yet also elegant, white crests on their heads – so much fun!
Perhaps these big domestic ducks are just too much duck for you though… In that case, perhaps you should consider Call Ducks. Call Ducks are the cutest of all the ducks. They are small, don’t eat as much as the larger ducks, and don’t need the space that the larger ducks require. They have stout little round bodies, with short necks and legs, round cheeks, and adorable little bills. Call Ducks come in a variety of colors/patterns. They have a long history of living with people and can make excellent pets.
In general ducks get along with one another and with other birds. One thing to note, you should not just have one duck. Ducks, like chickens, are social creatures and need the society of a flock. Ducks tend to form tighter bonds with one another than chickens do.
Be careful handling ducks and teach children to handle ducks carefully. Ducks being raised as pets are usually handled more, and it is important that the handling is gentle and positive for the ducks. If it is too rough or aggressive, your ducks may decide that they need to avoid people. Also, ducks have delicate legs and feet and heavy bodies; they are water creatures and are not made well for land. You cannot drop a duck like you could a chicken; a chicken can use its wings to land more softly, but a duck will get hurt if dropped from any height. Always place ducks slowly and directly onto the ground. The excessive chasing of ducks can also lead to leg injuries.
Ducks also should have some sort of pool or pond. A plastic wading pool works very well. It is a blast to watch them diving and splashing and preening in the pool.
If you can provide your ducks with what they need, Ducks can make great pets. They are sweet and fun birds and are truly a backyard joy.