The Pleasure of Pet Duck Ownership
When seeing a cute little duckling, many an animal-lover is tempted to pick it up, cuddle it and take it home. This urge can become almost impossible to resist if the animal-lover is accompanied by children. Ducks make wonderful pets, but before making a commitment to care for a pet duck that could be around for up to twelve years, it is wise to give the matter careful thought, weighing up (and even writing down if necessary) the pros and cons of adding this fluffy little bird to the household.
Experts readily agree that ducks are very sociable birds and, unless the owner has loads of time to spend with it, they should not be raised alone. Ducklings should be bought as young as possible in order for the owner-pet bond to be strong. A duckling will adapt to the household and other pets fairly easily if introduced at a young age. Some duck owners even adopt their pet birds as eggs and act as mother from the time the little duckling emerges. Once that bond is formed, it is permanent and can be very rewarding.
Ducklings raised without their mother must be given an artificial heat source for the first four to five weeks of their lives. This can be provided by a heat lamp positioned in one corner of the enclosure, with sufficient room for the ducklings to move away if they get too hot. Many have found that a vinyl child’s pool on a wire frame works well. This can always be used as a swimming pool for the ducklings when they are a bit older. The duckling’s area should be lined with an absorbent material such as wood shavings, and droppings must be picked up on a daily basis – a cat litter scoop will do the job.
Ducklings can be fed on game bird starter which is found at most farm supply stores. Chick starter food is not suitable for ducks as it does not have the correct nutrients for development. Ducklings also need some fresh chopped vegetable greens daily. Mixed greens from the green grocer and weeds from your garden will give them what they need. Ducks must always have a supply of water nearby when they are feeding. They use this to wash the food down and they need to keep the vents on their beaks clean. Bread, popcorn and chips should be considered as junk food and not given to ducks. They will thrive on garden bugs, snails, worms of all descriptions, mosquito larvae and whatever creepy crawly comes their way. Ducks are adept at catching flies and mosquitoes that may buzz by. Absolutely no pesticides should be used in a garden that is a duck’s feeding ground. A duck’s garden diet should be supplemented with cracked corn, floating coy food and fresh vegetable trimmings.
Once the ducklings are old enough to move outside they must have some type of shelter from the elements and sufficient water to allow them to dip their heads right under. This is necessary to prevent their eyes becoming dry which could lead to cataracts.
Duck owners will agree that not only are these lovely birds good and loyal pets, they are useful too by ridding the garden of pests. So if you have what it takes to be a duck owner, you can be sure of years of love and entertainment from your feathered friend.