Muscovy Duck Eating Fish

Should My Duck Eat (fill in the blank)?

I was walking around, looking at the duck flock, when suddenly I noticed one duck, Kiwi, running off with something in her mouth – something big and slimy.

What was that duck eating?

I followed her a short ways and determined that it was a frog. It was green and spotted, with long, slimy legs dangling from her bill. And it was larger than I thought she could eat. I watched her try to eat it for several minutes, and wondered whether frogs were good for ducks to eat or not (I remember seeing our dog’s mouth foaming after she tried to catch a toad, but wasn’t sure about ducks), and finally decided not to let her have it. We had to pull the frog right out of her mouth. Yuck. She had half the frog down her throat and couldn’t get it any farther. I’m glad we wrested it away from her, because she likely would have choked on it, although later I looked it up later and found that frogs, at least some kinds, are fine for ducks to eat.

Ducks love eating odd things, and sometimes they don’t know what’s good for them. Muscovies are especially notorious for loving small animals of many kinds, even mammals. All ducks go wild for worms, crickets, cockroaches, and similar creepy-crawlies. Muscovies will sometimes even go for lizards and mice, and I’ve read about one Muscovy that devoured a whole nest of gopher babies! Since they’re waterfowl, they also love fish and other aquatic creatures.

(Featured image shows Daphne, one my ducks, gleefully gobbling up a fish.)

And when a duck hits upon a treat like this, a grand chase starts. The lucky duck runs off with its prize as fast as it can, while the rest of the flock furiously scrambles after it in hopes of stealing the prize. Whether the catcher gets to eat its reward or not is anyone’s guess.

Worms For Ducks
A container full of worms to feed our ducks.

Other times, they’ll find something that isn’t good for them at all. I once saw my ducklings chewing a piece of plastic tarp, and I was afraid they were ingesting pieces of it. I quickly removed their access to the shredded tarp. I’ve also read of other cases were chickens or ducks ate metal (because it’s shiny), plastic foam, and other dangerous substances. You need to keep a lookout in your ducks’ yard and make sure there is nothing potentially harmful that they might try to eat.

Sometimes they do know what’s best. We had some poisonous flowers in their yard for a while, unfortunately, and we couldn’t always remove them before the ducks found them. Amazingly, they never touched them. In my experience, my ducks also won’t eat anything moldy, although they sometimes go wild for overripe fruit or vegetables.

However, you should NEVER trust your ducks to know what’s best. Too many people do this and then bemoan their dead birds.

So:

  1. If a duck catches a lizard, cricket, or worm, just have fun watching the grand chase!
  2. If a duck is eating something you’re worried about or are unsure whether it’s good for them, you’re better off safe than sorry. Remove it.
  3. Be careful to remove any items in your duck pen that a duck may choke on or ingest. When you’re feeding your ducks and taking care of them, take a glance around and look for possible hazards.

Coming soon: How to deal with a duck who HAS ingested something it shouldn’t have.

Coming soon: List of healthy treats you can feed your ducks