Can You Keep Mallard Ducklings as Pets

Ducks can be fun and rewarding to keep as pets. They are a great source of eggs and raised for their feathers and meat as well.

Mallard ducks can prove to be wonderful companions. They are smarter than most people give them credit for.  

They bring liveliness to boring regular lives by lifting moods. Ducks are pretty empathic if they are raised after being domesticated. 

Although ducks are not common pets like cats and dogs, many people keep them.  

Some Facts About Pet Ducks To Know   

Did you know that ducks can play fetch? They love playing games with their human companions and can be taught to be very responsive.   

Ducks do not have sphincter muscles. This means that they have no bowel control whatsoever.

They will crap wherever you keep them and whenever they please, which is more often than you might think. 

Some people put diapers on ducks when they keep them indoors, especially in winters.  

Raising ducks isn’t easy at all. You will need to let them out soon after the sun is up. Create pens and fenced predator-proof areas to keep them safe.

But ducks are quite amusing when they get involved in endless antics and misadventures. Duck owners do say they enjoy their flock’s shenanigans immensely.  

However, ducks can cost you quite a penny because not all vets are trained to treat them. You might need to pay extra money if they get sick. 

Ducks love ingesting shiny things but often choke on coins and anything made of plastic.  

Imprinted Mallard Ducks 

Mother ducks often use vocalizations to communicate with their ducklings during the incubation period.

The ducklings begin to answer once they develop vocal cords. At this time, they are still inside the eggs. The ducklings learn to recognize their mother’s voice.  

After hatching, ducklings try to find their mother and identify the first being they encounter as their mother. 

Ducklings aren’t born knowing what their mothers might look like but know that they have to search for them.  

Research on how imprinting works and what it will mean for you.  

After you imprint on a duck, they will need constant care and attention. The duck might wish to sleep on your pillow and follow you around everywhere.

They might leave their feathers and poop wherever they follow.

Consider whether or not you have the time to take care of a baby that demands your attention by crying and screaming.

You can’t try to discipline your duckling, or potty train them.  

Also, consider whether you have the resources to take care of a duck. You will need to create a pond or let them swim in a bathtub if you’re keeping them indoors.

You will have to create predator-proof sleeping pens and fenced areas. You will need the financial resources for medical bills and diapers. And they will need a lot of attention.  

You will need to be committed and ready for a long-term relationship.

You duckling will need you as a mother for 9-10 weeks at least. If you have any other pets such as cats or dogs, they need to be well-behaved and not harm or kill your duckling.  

Rescued a Mallard Duckling? Here’s What You Need to Know… 

After they hatch, mallard ducklings can be found within 24 hours when they are left behind by their mothers. The mother ducks lead the ducklings towards water.

There are cases where they may lose ducklings along the way that couldn’t keep up. Out of twelve or thirteen ducklings, only a couple or more babies make it to adulthood.  

If you happen to rescue a mallard duckling, there are a few things that you should know. Firstly, the mother duck is responsible for preening the duckling.

This encourages them to produce oil from their glands that prevent the feathers from getting wet.

If you rescue a duckling, you might have to learn how preening works before introducing them to water, or they might easily drown.  

What is Preening and How Does it Work? 

Ducks’ preen gland produces oil. It is situated near the tail. Ducks rub their bills on this gland and then all over their feathers to waterproof them.

When ducklings hatch, the mother duck will rub their bill over their own preen gland. This waterproofs them before they are introduced to water.  

However, abandoned ducklings may not have been preened. You can encourage them to rub their heads and bills on their preen glands. 

Ducklings may die of hypothermia or drown if they try to swim without being preened.  

How to Take Care of a Newly Hatched Mallard Duckling 

If the duckling is wet, use a dry cloth or hand towel to dry it until it’s fluffy again. Keep the duckling close to your body until you reach home. 

Keep the rescued ducklings in a high-sided box with a towel or a hot water bottle. This mimics the mother duck’s body heat. 

Don’t use hay or straw because they gather mold spores, which can be hazardous for ducklings.  

The ducklings will need to snuggle, but make sure the bottle isn’t filled with boiling water. Ducklings are sensitive to overheating too. 

Some other cautions you should take include not holding them too tightly. Ducklings have air sacs all over their body and can easily suffocate.

Hold them gently and leave some space in your hands for them to move when you cup them.  

What to Feed Newly Hatched Mallard Ducklings? 

For a few hours, ducklings will not be interested in feeding after they hatch.

This is because they have feasted on the remains of their egg sac just before hatching. Just keep them warm and dry until they’re ready to eat.  

When they begin crying for food, fetch a lid of a jam jar or any shallow dish. Crush up some pieces of a hard-boiled egg to feed the ducklings.

You can also feed them mealworms, both dry and live. Never offer food without water.  

If a duckling is too weak to feed itself and abandoned, you can feed them sugary water with a dropper. Don’t use a syringe because that might cause the syrup to get into their airways.

A duckling’s feet and legs are quite delicate and they might have broken their leg if they have jumped from a height or tripped over their feet.

Take the duckling to a vet immediately if they are injured in the process.  

How to Take Care of Mallard Ducklings 3 Days to a Few Weeks Old? 

You can start feeding crumbs and crushed oatmeal to ducklings when they are a few days old.

Ducklings have a different nutrition requirement than chickens, so don’t offer them chicken feed. 

Choose feed that has been specifically created for ducks. Starter feeds for ducks are high in proteins which can be great for ducklings. 

You can switch over to duck and goose pellet feed once the ducklings are a few weeks old. Once the ducklings are over four weeks old, don’t feed them starter food.

This is because the high protein content can now be harmful to them. The same goes for mealworms. They may develop wings too quickly and will not be able to fly or survive on their own.  

If you don’t plan on keeping the ducks as pets, you can release them after they’re 8-9 weeks old.  

Now For the Question… 

Ducks do become attached to their owners. And though they might not cuddle with you, they will protect you and keep an eye out for you.

They are ferocious creatures. You will find them highly entertaining, and they will keep you busy.  You might need to see what your state says about keeping ducks as pets.

You should ask your neighbors if they are okay with the noise pollution your ducks will probably cause.

After reading all of the provided information, it is really up to you to decide if you want to keep a mallard duckling as a pet or not. Ducks are certainly not low-maintenance.

If you are ready to take care of ducks, you can most certainly keep mallard ducks as pets. 

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