Ducks make great pets, although it can take them a while to trust you, and their funny, charming, individual characters will entertain you for hours.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at ducks in more detail including different breeds, how to ensure your ducks stay healthy and and happy, and why keeping ducks is a great idea.
In general ducks have fairly basic needs – as long as they’ve got food, fresh water, and a clean duck house they’ll be happy.
Ducks – the basics
As you’ll know ducks are mostly aquatic birds that can be found both on fresh and sea water. They are smaller than swans and geese although they are all part of the same species known as the Anatidae family.
The word “duck” is thought to come from the Old English word “duce” meaning “diver” or “to dive”. This is thought to be a reference to the way ducks upend in water to feed.
Almost all domestic ducks are descended from the Mallard, with the exception of the Muscovy breed.
Ducks eat a variety of foods and are actually omnivores. Grass, aquatic plants, insects, small fish, frogs, and worms will all make up a ducks diet if it has free access to them.
Most domestic duck breeds feed on land, on the surface of the water, or by upending and eating as deep as they can go without completely submerging.
The majority of domestic breeds of duck don’t need vast expanses of water to be happy and healthy. The absolute minimum amount a duck needs is a water source deep enough to submerge their whole head.
Not only does this help them swallow their food but also ensures their eyes stay clean as ducks lack tear ducts so cannot clean their own eyes.
With domestic ducks the females of most breeds will make the classic “quack” sound. Ducks have a wide range of sounds including chattering, whistling, grunting, and squeaking.
Ducks use their range of calls to communicate everything from being scared or startled to informing other members of the flock that they’ve found a tasty treat.
Ducks have been domesticated for hundreds of years and have many economic uses including being farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers.
Ducks are also common as pets, especially in recent years, where they are kept both alongside chickens and separately.
These days there are so many different breeds of domestic duck it would take pages to list them all. Some of the most common breeds of duck kept include Call, Aylesbury, Pekin, Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell, and Silver Appleyard.