How to raise a baby duckling
How to raise baby ducklings
The reason why you’re probably looking at this article is either because you just found a wild baby duckling or just bought some and are frantically looking for information. Trust me, I know the feeling. About a month ago, I found a baby duckling all alone and abandoned. We named her peep and even though she was probably the cutest thing I have ever seen, she was a lot of work. I was researching for hours a day on just how to save her. I did not take the found duckling to wild life rehabilitation because all of my local ones would actually euthanize the duck because of the large population of mallards. They wanted nature to take its course. Check your local places though because the situation may be different for you. Only very few ducklings out of the entire pack make it and that is with a mother. However, in the safe indoors they have a pretty good chance of making it as long as you listen to the following.
1.Temperature. Ducklings NEED to stay warm. They will not eat or sleep if they are too cold. They also can get overheated. To avoid this, have an area where they can get away from the warmth. I would recommend a heat light covering a section of its box.
2.Food. If buying food for the duckling be sure the feed does not contain any drugs. The feed should be starter feed. The reason for this is because ducklings overeat when young and will end up overdosing themselves if the feed does contain drugs. You can also make a homemade dish, but it is a lot of work. Blend some dog or cat food with little fruit some and vegetables, romanian lettuce, spinach, brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, carrots, broccoli and more. If you do include fruit, do not put to much because it has a lot of sugar and they poop a lot more.
3.Water. Ducklings need water with their food in order to swallow it. I would put a dish that was just filled with water and also have one with a mixture of food and water. I put a solid rock at the bottom so it would not keep spilling its food and water. They also need the water for them to clear their sinuses. DO NOT have the ducks swim in the first 3 weeks in any cold water or for long periods of time. Five minutes at max with supervision and be sure it is warm water. If chilled, they can drown. Their mothers secrete waterproof oil that is rubbed off onto the ducklings during their weeks without their own feathers, which helps keep them warm. Be sure your duck is completely dried off with a towel before putting it back in its box/ cage.
4.Shelter. Their first 3 weeks they should be indoors and kept warm. I kept mine in a large cardboard box with the heat lamp. Put a towel in the box as the bottom layer to keep the water from mildewing the box and then line the top with newspaper. Also put a mirror and stuffed animal in its cage because ducks get lonely. When they feel alone they will become suicidal and will not eat because they are too busy looking for another duck. The stuffed animal just lets them feel more at home and cuddle into it like its mother. Its area needs to be cleaned at least every other day to prevent mold and bacteria from building. The same for the food and water dish. Once 3 weeks old your duck can start to keep itself warm with its tiny little feathers. At this point, you can let your duck run around outside, but with supervision. For me, I could leave it outside all day with a few checkups only because we used on old dog kennel that we could put in the grass and it has a top so other birds could not come harass her. We would bring her in at night and she absolutely adored being outside at that age.
5.Do not carry the duckling while standing. Duckling’s organs are still developing and if they are to be dropped it can cause a seizure and can be fatal. To be on the safe side, always be sitting while holding your duck.
6.If you have other pets, keep your duckling away from them at all times. Believe it or not, ducklings can have heart attacks. Unfortunately, that is how peep died because she was scared to death by my dogs barking at her from behind a cage. The barking lasted for about 10 seconds and those 10 seconds were deadly.
7.Have a toothbrush handy near your duckling. The duck can sometimes get something stuck in its sinuses and can have troubled breathing to the point of death. Most of the time, the duck can clear it with the water. If not simply take the toothbrush and try to flick it out as gently as you can.
8.Do not be careless and bring your duck everywhere to show it off. Ducks are fragile at this age. Just put in a safe area and keep it their till 3-4 weeks of age.
9.Releasing. Ducks are extremely adaptable and can release very easily. Caring for your duck will not harm this outcome in anyway. Ducks are generally ready to be released at around 50-55 days old which is when they can start flying. At the age of flying that is for sure of when you can release your duckling.
If your duck was abandoned, there was probably something wrong with it. It could be sick or its parents might have been killed. Either way just follow the above, but watch it with a keen eye. Peep had avian cholera and was why she was abandoned. Avian cholera normally is deadly to wild ducks, but indoors it has a chance on fighting the disease. The disease weakens the heart and your duck becomes more tired. It will also have a mucous discharge from the mouth that may be seen as throwing up. Its poop also turns into a loose, light green color. If this is the case for you, just keep your duckling warm and be sure it has water and food so it can figth the disease. For other possible sicknesses, check out this website.
The best of luck with your duck!!! If you have additional information, please let me know so I can keep my article up to date!