It all started innocently enough. You just went to the store for tractor parts when suddenly you are confronted by a crate of baby ducklings for sale. Oh my! They are terribly cute, fairly inexpensive and the salesperson is quite convincing on how easy it will be to care for them. Surely your child would love the experience of having a baby duck, right? Oxytocin levels are surging and you may be about to make a bad decision. Let’s take a breath and discuss.
Spring is in the air. Time for new beginnings and of course, lots of baby animals. As the warm air rolls in, so too does the influx of calls about baby animals in need. Last week we got a call about two 4-week old ducklings being offered for free by a kind soul who perhaps didn’t first think of all the consequences of purchasing ducks to live in his apartment. Ducks can be very loud and messy and not well suited to apartment living. Two hours and an avian vet visit later, there they were in our bathroom.
Did we mention that ducks poop a lot? A LOT. They cannot be trained to eliminate in one area. Thankfully for us and the ducks, they had a promise to live their life at the beautiful duck pond at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. Not all ducks are so lucky, and poop issues aside there are even more things to consider before choosing a duck as a companion.
Ducks need duck friends and not all ducks get along. They can fight and injure each other. Depending on where you live, veterinarians with duck experience can be few and far between. Ducks may bite out of fear or even just when playing. They often bond closely and are distressed when you leave. Predator proof housing (remember that “sitting duck” phrase) is a requirement, especially at night as they are vulnerable to predators. They need to be safely put away before the sun sets.
Did we mention ducks enjoy swimming in a pond? That pond or pool you supply will also need upkeep. At minimum, ducks require twice a day cleaning and feeding and even more time than that for companionship.
Still, we concede… ducks are adorable, awesome, and maybe some of you would really enjoy a life with ducks. If you do all your research and are still convinced that you want to care for ducks and have a safe, loving and appropriate set-up, please adopt or rescue. Buying hatchlings just supports a system of creating way more homeless ducks than can be cared for. Take it from the duck brothers, “Give a darn, don’t give a duck!”.