Owning a duck as a pet is not for everyone, but if you know how to do it correctly, having a water-loving feathered friend is a great experience. You should know basic questions regarding their care and upbringing such as how long do pet ducks live, what they eat, and how to clean up after them.
Ducks are highly intelligent creatures that are easy and inexpensive to care for. With the proper care, they can live up to 20 years, so they will be an animal companion that you can have for a long time! What’s more, ducks are known to have strong social bonds with their owners, so if you choose to rear a duck from a duckling, you will have a faithful and loyal companion for years.
Getting to Know Your Duck’s Personality
Ducks are similar to dogs in many ways. They are naturally curious, they love to play, they are emotional, and over time, you’ll even see a distinct personality in your duck! Just like other popular pets such as dogs or cats, you’ll see that individual ducks have their own unique personalities even if they are raised together. One duck might be playful and outgoing, while another might be shy and quiet, and the third might be wary of strangers.
To know what kind of personality your duck has, it’s best to get them from an early age so that you can bond more with them. In general, ducks that are raised with a lot of human interaction tend to be more sociable with people, even strangers.
Another amazing thing about ducks is that they can be trained just like dogs or cats! With some patience and practice, they can be taught tricks, follow commands, play games, or even snuggle with their owner. Just like dogs and cats, ducks will respond to different reward types when it comes to training. Some ducks respond to positive attention and reinforcement while others respond to food treats.
Caring for Your Pet Ducklings
If you have ducklings, proper care during the first months of their life is critical to ensure that they grow into healthy adults. Ducklings must be kept dry and warm during the first month, so you need to invest in a heat lamp as well as a rearing box or cage. The temperature of their rearing box must constantly be around 80⁰-85⁰F and the ducklings should be able to move in and out of the heating area freely. The best place to put the heat lamp is in the corner of the box.
After about a month, the ducklings will be covered by a soft layer of down. If the weather is warm and dry, you can start bringing them outside your home so that they can get used to the outdoors. Remember, ducks are not meant to be indoor pets! If they are outside, you must always supervise them to make sure that they are safe. Ducklings are naturally curious and have a tendency to wander off or sneak inside small spaces.
During this period, you can also start to introduce them to water! Ducklings have a natural affinity of water and they will try to swim in any container of water whether it’s a tub or even a small pond. However, you should also keep an eye on them because they are not strong swimmers yet, and ducklings can drown if they get tired or chilled from being in the water for too long.
Can you keep a duck as a pet if you don’t have a way to provide them with a place to swim? It will be more difficult because ducks, as waterfowl, are naturally drawn to bodies to water. It helps them develop their muscles properly as well as contributes to their mental wellbeing.
The Proper Nutrition for Your Duck
Waterfowl have different nutritional needs compared to other types of fowl such as chicken or quail, so you can’t just feed them the same feed. Ducklings should be a fed a special duckling starter during the first two weeks of their life. This feed is specifically formulated to provide all the nutrients needed by young waterfowl. Knowing what to feed your ducks at specific stages of their life is essential to knowing how to raise a duck as a pet properly.
During weeks 3-7, you can switch to duck grower. This feed will ensure that they have optimal growth and development by providing high amounts of nutrients and protein. Finally, at around 2 months, you can switch your ducks to normal duck feed. Some people do use chicken feed for older ducks, but this type of feed is not specially formulated for ducks. As with any fowl, ducks need grit in their diet to help them grind up the food in their gizzard.
If you want to give your ducks some treats, fresh greens and grains such as corn or rye are great choices.
Cleaning Up After Your Ducks
If you decide to have a duck as a pet, you need to properly clean up after your duck at all times. Duck feces can be a source of microbes such as salmonella or avian flu, and if you do not clean up after your duck, these microbes can infect humans.
For those who have large areas of land, just make sure that your ducks have a specific area where they are kept so that they do not scatter their feces around. However, if you plan to keep your duck inside your home, you should consider using a “duck diaper”. A duck diaper is a harness-like system that will catch your duck’s waste, but it will not interfere with swimming or walking. You should change it every four hours to ensure cleanliness and hygiene. Luckily, you can use the duck feces as compost.
So, now you know the answer to basic duck care questions such as “how long do pet ducks live?” and many others. Always remember that keeping ducks is not different from keeping any other animal as a pet. Since they can live up to 20 years with the proper care and nutrition, you’ll be making a lifetime commitment to the animal! If you do decide to raise ducks as pets, you should consider whether you have the space, resources, and patience to take care of a duck and give it a proper home for it’s whole life before taking home that cute duckling! Find out more about pets.