Domestic Duck Rescue and Ducks as Pets
Domestic duck rescue and ducks as Pets.
by Robert Hudson
Jennifer Morris has been caring and rescuing domestic ducks for 25 years since she was 15 and took in 10 ducks that were abandoned. “Ten dumped ducks locally that no one was helping and I had a little experience with ducks. My mom had a few when I was growing up, but I have always had rescued animals in my life If an animal needs help I feel an urgent need to help. It seems embedded in my soul. They are amazing creatures and have truly taught me so much.”
Domestic Duck Rescue and Ducks as Pets- Breeds
Domestic ducks come in different sizes and colors but it is believed they were all bred from the wild Mallard duck. They were bred for meat, eggs, and down feathers. There are a couple of exceptions. Muscovy Duck or Barbary (Cairina moschata domestica), is a South American jungle breed whose ancestor is the wild muscovy duck (Cairina moschata). The other is the Cayuga duck and is suspected to be a descendant of a different wild duck.
Domestic Duck Personality
“Domestic ducks do have a pecking order, and they have diverse personalities. Squeak is the one disabled pekin that I recently lost. He used to hide so I would go look for him, like we were playing hide and go seek. He would eventually excitedly pop out of his hiding spot and hobble to me. My 12 year old going on 13 Muscovy drake, Henry, is my gentleman drake. He helps disabled ducks get to water and food when needed. Henry helps raise babies that come in and talks to them when they are scared so they calm down. Kimble is a 4 year old Muscovy hen who is a diva. She complains when she doesn’t get her way and is so overly dramatic. I have a khaki campbell hen, Bette. She is a nosy girl who is always poking her bill in what everyone else is doing.
Domestic Duck Rescue and Ducks as Pets- Care Requirements
Domestic ducks can not survive outdoors during the winter with one exception: the Muscovy duck. Although it is native to tropical South America, the Muscovy has adapted to living in cold winters and can now be found in the southern states all the way up to Canada. You can find them in city parks, local ponds, and in the wilderness. In Florida they are considered an invasive specie. They can even interbreed with our native Mallards.
Domestic ducks require an outdoor enclosure to keep them warm during the winter- just like a chicken coop.
“I feed them All Flock Pellets mixed with bird seed or scratch grain and I provide fresh greens. They don’t need a pond built. A kiddie pool works for them to bath in. A water dish that they can dunk their heads past their eyes is required. They need to be able to rinse their eyes to prevent eye infections. They can survive winter with a shelter (ex. A shed) from the wind and cold. Dry straw is needed so they can stay warm ,” explained Jennifer.
Domestic Ducks Fly and Be Free!
Most domestic ducks have been bred so they cannot fly. Those that were bred for meat are too heavy to fly. Pekins, Rouens, and Cayugas are examples of ducks that can’t fly. Domestic ducks that can fly include:
- Domesticated Mallards
- Call ducks
- Muscovy ducks
- Runner ducks
Domestic ducks may be kept from flying by having their wings clipped or by keeping them is a large pen with a roof.
Keeping Your Domestic Ducks Safe
The biggest threat to your ducks is predators. Predators such as Coyotes and Foxes hunt at night. Pedatory birds hunt during the day, (except for owls). Lizards and snakes will eat ducklings. It is highly recommended that you lock your ducks in a predator safe enclosure at night and supervise them during the day if free roaming.
Jennifer is in it for the long run. She has been rescuing ducks for 25 years now. “Currently I have almost 100 birds, and have rehomed/adopted out hundreds in the 25 years of doing this.” Why ducks? “I love their amazing personalities. They are amazingly in tune with those around them. They are my heart and soul.” Even being allergic to feathers does not hinder her commitment.
The Ugly Truth
The rescued domestic ducks have stories very much like abandoned and abused cats and dogs. Jennifer explains,”People impulsively buy them because they are small and cute without researching their care. When they realize they need more care, they decide they aren’t worth the hassle or time. ” She has seen abuse cases as well. “Sadly people will kick them, starve them, not seek medical care for them, throw things at them. I have several abuse cases who are sanctuaried here to make sure they never suffer that abuse again.”
The biggest challenge for Jennifer is dealing with her frustration. “People see them as discardable creatures with no personalities or feelings.” The rising cost of feed and medical care is an ongoing challenge. You can follow Jennifer’s rescue on Facebook, Chaos’s Lunatic Duck Rescue of South Western Pennsylvania
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