You’re wondering how you can walk in your yard without Mr. Macho tearing a gash in your leg with his razor-sharp talons and leaving nasty dark bruises with his hard, twisting bite. You don’t want to resort to inviting your beloved drake for dinner. Neither do you want to become the subject of the next viral YouTube video if your neighbors catch you facing off a little 15-pound duck in medieval armor.
You know he’s just a puny little bird, but you’re kinda scared of him. Nothing seems to make him stop.
Don’t give up. There’s a solution to make drakes stop attacking or biting people. Drakes are not mindless maniacs, however much they may seem to be. There’s a secret to it.
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- Why drakes are aggressive
- How aggression starts
- Techniques to stop aggression
- Where many people go wrong
- But I don’t want my drake to hate me
- When culling IS the best solution
- My story
We’re going to try to deal with this in a way that your drake naturally understands. All good animal trainers do this. Anyone who seems to get along with animals naturally and works beautifully with them, whatever the species, is able to do this because they understand the animal and how they think and why they do what they do.
Also, a quick apology to all non-Muscovy owners: I am a Muscovy owner who currently has no real life experience with aggressive drakes of other breeds. Most of this information applies to both Muscovies and Mallard-derived breeds, but it’s possible there are differences I am not aware of.
Why ducks are aggressive
There are two causes of drake aggression. Both are unacceptable.
Either he’s dominant and he’s being the boss, or he wants to mate you.
I know the latter one sounds kind of weird, but it happens, especially if he was hand-raised and wasn’t around others of his kind when growing up. Without any females, some male ducks turn to humans in an effort to vent their sexual urges, and their attention often resembles an attack. Some drakes will do it even if they do have females.
This article is focused on the former (which is the normal cause of aggression). If you think your drake is “attacking” you because he wants to mate you, I’ll tell you what to do right here: Get him some girls. (Please get more than one, because ducks actually aren’t best kept in couples due to the risk of overmating the lone female.) And then don’t let him attack you. Read about method #3 in “Techniques to stop aggression,” and then read “Where many people go wrong” to be sure you succeed, especially this part (which explains why method #3 works better for sexually aggressive drakes than for dominant drakes).
Most likely, however, he just feels that he is the boss. He’ll keep reminding you. As he sees it, you are constantly violating the boundaries he has set for you by invading his territory and threatening to steal his girls, so he feels compelled to keep defending himself.
Many people wonder, “Will he stop his aggression on his own? Will it end if I just ignore it?”
No. It won’t end unless you make it end.
Think about how duck social life works. Ducks, as well as most other animals, use a “pecking order,” or a hierarchy of who is boss over who. People do, too, in some ways — parents over children, employers over their employees, presidents over their citizens, etc. Ducks find out who is where in the pecking order through fights. Sometimes they’re just small skirmishes, other times they’re full-blown battles. Both females and males have these fights, but they’re usually far more serious in males.
It’s usually only males who try to dominate humans. Your drake sees you a part of this pecking order or social hierarchy.
Some people are naturally assertive and capable of subtly commanding respect with their mere presence and body language. Drakes will usually realize that these people are indisputably the top drake and likely won’t even try to challenge them.
Many people, however, inadvertently encourage their drake to dominate them.
How aggression starts
In many cases, aggression starts the day the duck hatches, warm in the hands of a loving family who ooh and aah over his cute faces, tenderly fondle his oh-so-soft yellow down, giggle when he “kisses” them on the cheek, feed him a steady stream of treats, and laugh as they watch him waddle across the room after them.
Yes, aggression problems often start when humans imprint a drake onto themselves and raise the drake as a pet.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Ducks of either sex can make great pets.
But you have to be careful. First of all, those are not cute “kisses” or love pecks. That’s anthropomorphization. They’re dominance pecks. (Sometimes it’s just curious nibbling, like at glittering buttons or shiny eyes, but that’s different from a peck.) Ducks take pecking seriously. If you allow it, you will confirm to him that he’s alpha. When he’s young, it will seem harmless.
But then he matures. He decides it’s about time you start listening to him. He’s bold, he has no fear or respect for you, and he’s been king of the house his whole life. Naturally, he feels dominant, and feels compelled to maintain his place in the pecking order by asserting his dominance.
How do you prevent this?
If you’re reading this article because your drake is already aggressive, read this section anyway, because you don’t want to continue encouraging the behavior while simultaneously trying to stop it.
First, I really don’t recommend imprinting a drake onto yourself. (On a related note, neither do I recommend raising a lone duck. You can’t be around 24/7 and he’ll be lonely when you’re gone.) You’re probably way past that, unfortunately, but keep it in mind for the future.
Second, don’t let him peck or bite you. If he’s trying to demand for you to give him treats, don’t reward the biting by giving in and offering the treat. Peck him in return with your finger until he moves away, even if you have to make him. That’s just duck manners. A duck who taps or lightly pecks another duck, usually on the shoulder, is saying, “Move out of my way,” and if he doesn’t move on his own, it’s because he thinks you have no right to boss him around.
Third, most people like to feed their pet ducks by hand. I do, too, although mostly just my females. I’m not going to condemn hand feeding, but many drakes don’t let subordinate drakes eat their food or any food in their territory. There are some drakes that are more easygoing and will allow it anyway, so long as the subordinate drakes still maintains respect, but if you begin to see problems, I recommend not hand feeding your drake or letting him eat while you are standing over the food bowl. For some drakes it might not be a problem, but for others, it could reinforce the notion in his head that he is dominant.
Many aggressive duck cases are lone drakes raised in a house and imprinted onto humans, but sometimes a drake will turn aggressive even if you’ve never fed him by hand or any such thing.
In these cases, it’s usually a drake who isn’t sure who’s who in the pecking order, and decides to find out by challenging you. Many people don’t recognize the challenge, and it escalates into pecking or even a full-blown attack.
Startled, the person doesn’t know what to do and moves or even flat-out runs away. “Ha!” the drake thinks. “I win! They surrendered! I’m boss!”
Congratulations! You have now taught your drake that you move away if he tells you to, and, thus, he is dominant.
Now let’s find out how to actually stop the behavior.
Techniques to stop aggression
Well, you could just wear that medieval armor every time you go into your ducks’ quarters. You’ll be a literal knight in shining armor.
Come to think of it, it probably would work. He’ll probably spook at the weird shiny monster.
Okay. I’ll get serious.
If you’ve already received any advice, it was probably one of these:
- Pet him. Give him treats. He will realize that you are not a threat and blah blah blah.
- Kick him! Whomp him! Whack him with a stick!
- Carry a broom/bucket/other object to block his attacks.
- Show him you’re boss! Be the boss! Put him in his place!
#1 seems to pacify some drakes, but it rarely permanently solves the problem. In fact, it can actually aggravate it, because, as I mentioned before, subordinate drakes aren’t normally allowed to steal a higher drake’s food.
#2 does technically “work.” Some people endure aggressive ducks/geese/roosters for months and finally, in a burst of anger and frustration, just kick the bird away. Voilá! Aggression vanished. However, I don’t recommend it. It’s rather mean, and it could severely injure him. Also, the only thing it accomplishes is teaching your drake that you’ll hurt him, and thus causes him to fear you, which you especially don’t want if he’s a pet. There’s a better way.
#3 can work or at least help, but it takes a while to get through their heads that they are not capable of getting past the broom. Sometimes, they will merely switch to attacking the broom. Or they will stop attacking—so long as you have the broom. So for the rest of his life, you will have to carry a broom with you every time you’re around him.
#4 is the one that works, 100% of the time, because it’s something that drakes innately understand.
However, a lot of the advice you will see online or hear is too vague: “BE THE BOSS. BE THE BOSS. HEAR ME? BE THE BOSS.” Even if you’ve heard some of the details (pinning him down, sitting on him, etc.) and went out and tried it, it probably didn’t work. For example, maybe you sat on your drake, and then let him go and he came charging right back at you, so you gave up. Or it seemed to work, but the next day the drake was back at his attacks again.
It’s not the technique that’s the problem. It’s the execution.
In one sentence, yes, you can stop aggression by clearly communicating to him IN A WAY HE UNDERSTANDS that YOU have a higher status in the pecking order than he does. A drake WILL NOT attack a more dominant drake.
Have you ever seen two drakes fighting? It’ll start with a challenge from one drake to the other, often a peck. Sometimes they’ll walk side by side, dipping their head to the ground and up again, until one of them finally charges in to attack. Then they’ll jump and dance, beating each other with their wings, trying to pin the other down.
At some point, (unless the two competitors are so evenly matched that neither can win) one of the drakes will succeed in pinning the other down. He’ll stay there, sitting on top of the other, usually pecking at his neck or shoulders, for several minutes. Eventually he’ll get off, and the loser will run away while the winner gets congratulated on his victory by his girls.
And from then on, the guy who won is top duck (at least until he’s challenged again).
Simply put, to put a drake in his place and become alpha, you have to mimic this kind of fight.
Skip the wing-beating. You’re stronger than him. In a fight between two drakes that are not evenly matched, they often go almost straight to the pinning part. So should you. Just pin him down and hold him there. You might straddle him with your legs and sit on him (although you shouldn’t put all your weight on him. Flatten his head and neck to the ground. You can even “peck” at him for good measure.
After a few minutes, let him go. That’s all there is to it (well, almost).
Where many people go wrong
You may have already heard that advice. You’re probably now whining, “I did that! It doesn’t work!”
The reason it didn’t work is probably because you backed off. Either YOU back off, or HE backs off. You can’t give up before he does!
That’s the biggest mistake people make. They don’t really want to do what it takes. So they bluff. They go, “Okay…I think I’m going to show you I’m boss….OH WAAA NO YOU’RE STILL ATTACKING ME AAGGGHH FORGET IT!”
You’ve gotta be consistent and determined. You have to mean what you say. You can’t give up. They figure out pretty fast whether you’re bluffing or not. If he comes right back at you, just do it all over again, only this time use more force, be a little meaner, hold him down longer, etc. If you can feel he’s still fighting and trying to hold his head up and get out of your grip, don’t let him go. Only when he feels like he’s given in and is lying there submissively should you let him go. Hold him for at least two full minutes, just like a drake in real life would do. Thirty seconds of pinning probably isn’t even going to work. After all, you didn’t engage in a real wing-beating fight, so it may take longer for him to understand your reason in pinning him down.
You might have to do it multiple times. Some drakes are stubborn and won’t easily relinquish their title of “boss duck.” Patience, persistence, and consistency are key. Just keep at it. It’s not necessarily going to stop overnight.
Remember, you must NEVER, EVER give in and let him win. Never back up or run away from, because that just encourages him and proves to him that you are below him. That’s what he wants you to do.
Every single time he tries to attack you, you are going to retaliate and pin him down. It must always be this way. It’s not a rule if you only enforce it half the time!
It’s that simple. Leadership requires clarity, consistency, and communication.
Often I hear the complaint, “But I don’t want to hurt him!” Well, he wants to hurt you! Many people only half-commit to it and try to kind of gently hold him down. They treat him like he’s made of wet cardboard. News flash: he isn’t. These guys are ridiculously tough. My drake survived a crocodile attack. I wouldn’t suggest doing a handstand on his back, but hold him down good and tight. Put some force behind it. If you’ve pinned him multiple times and are not getting results, you’re probably not being mean enough. You might also try flipping him upside down and pinning him on his back, since some drakes seem to respond better to that. Some people also try picking him up and carrying him around. I think the pinning is the best because it’s what another drake would do to him, but feel free to experiment.
It may seem harsh and you may retch at the idea of having to use force on your birds, but keep in mind that what you will be doing is hardly different from what another drake would do. He doesn’t see it as cruel; he just sees it as part of life. Remember, also, that it’s far kinder to treat him like this a few times than to have to put him down.
There’s also no need to worry that he will feel miserable and forlorn if you’re above him in the pecking order. It won’t break his spirit. He’ll accept it and then he’ll go on living his ducky life the same as he did before. He’ll just have a new respect for you.
He’s not necessarily going to hate or fear you, either. A bit more on that here.
If you absolutely refuse to do this, you can try method #3. I’m not guaranteeing that it will work, but some drakes do give up after being met with a broom every time they try to attack. I don’t mean hitting him with the broom, just placing it as a blockage, or lightly shoving him away with it. You can also use a back scratcher, short PVC pipe, a piece of cardboard, or even a water gun (many ducks hate being sprayed with a water gun).
However, if you’re struggling with a sexually aggressive drake, one that is interested in mating you, the broom technique is actually the best. There’s no point in winning a dominance fight with him, because he doesn’t even think you’re a drake. Get him some girls to keep him happy, if at all possible, and then block all his attacks. Eventually he’ll give up when he realizes that you are an impossible target.
A few other tips:
If you are actually afraid of him, remember that all he can really do is bite. Just wear jeans and closed-toe shoes. Some very aggressive drakes may actually pounce and attack with their bill, wings, and claws, but still, with some tough jeans and boots, he really can’t hurt you. Really. He’s a featherweight.
Don’t randomly chase him or whack him or anything like that. He won’t understand. Only get physical with him as an IMMEDIATE response to aggression, and you must do it in the same way he would do it to another drake. Timing is very important in training any animal, because you can’t actually tell them why you’re doing it.
Don’t get angry and don’t take it personally. He’s just doing what his instincts tell him to do. Don’t bring any human emotions into it. Try to stay calm.
Is there ever a drake that absolutely refused to change his mind and could not be convinced? I don’t know. I’ve never seen one. Some drakes are pretty stubborn and won’t easily relinquish their title of “boss duck,” but I don’t think that means he’s a lost cause. If you’ve tried and tried and are not getting anywhere, I’d be pretty certain you were doing something wrong unknowingly. But I’d be willing to consider that he could indeed be beyond hope. I have no idea why, because it really doesn’t make sense, but I won’t say it’s impossible.
But I don’t want my drake to hate me
Many people are worried that if they “show him they’re boss,” their drake will fear them and run away from them. Not necessarily! If you’re mean and nasty, of course he will. He’ll stay away because he’s afraid. That’s better than him attacking you, but if he was your pet, you probably don’t want him to be fearful of you. Just respectful. That’s all you’re asking for.
If you do it right, it won’t necessarily mean he’ll fear you and run away from you. Look at drakes in real life. I currently have five Muscovy drakes. Their pecking orders have switched around a few times over the years, but right now, King’s the boss. BB’s second, Captain’s third, Edward’s fourth. Little Eli is on the bottom, fifth.
But you won’t see Eli cowering and running every time he sees a drake lumbering on the horizon.
In fact, guess what?
Captain and Eli are best buddies. They take naps in the shade together, they talk together, they follow girls around together. They love being together. Once in a while, Eli will challenge Captain. They’ll have a short fight. Captain will win, since he’s bigger and stronger. And then everything will be fine and dandy again.
Not every drake will be like this, unfortunately. Captain’s the type of guy to get along with everyone, and Eli took advantage. But some drakes will simply run if they see other drakes that are higher in the pecking order. I don’t know why, maybe they’re just more fearful by nature. Edward is like that. The other drakes don’t bully him, but he still acts terrified. (Frankly, it seems like he panics if you even look at him funny.) And sometimes drakes will be bullies and not let subordinate drakes anywhere near.
Anyway, my point is that even if you’re “top duck,” it doesn’t automatically mean he will see you as a heartless monster and skedaddle every time he even thinks he smells you. With some drakes, you will still be able to get along, especially if you make an effort to still be buddies with them.
When culling IS the best solution
There ARE times when I would recommend getting rid of a drake.
If your drake is a beloved pet…
*all devoted, infatuated pet drake owners suck in a breath of living horror*
If your drake is a beloved pet, I have bad news: You shouldn’t keep him.
Just kidding. You can keep him.
I can just hear the sighs of relief.
Most “pet” cases are caused by the owner, rather than genetics, and thus can usually be fixed, as hard as it may be for the doting owner. If he seems truly hopeless (which I doubt) or there is an acute threat of him harming a child or something, or if you just don’t WANT to deal with it, you may want to find a more peaceful drake, but it’s your choice.
However, if you have not done anything to encourage aggression and your drake is just plain mean and nasty, it may just be his genes. Yes, you can probably teach him not to attack you, so you can keep him if you really want to. I just don’t recommend breeding him.
Anyone who is breeding their ducks, especially if they often sell to people who want ducks for pets, should be careful to only breed friendly animals.
There are also the drakes who not only dominate, but flat-out bully other drakes. Some drakes are happy to live peacefully with other drakes, so long as there are plenty of girls to go around. Others, however, chase, beat up, and bully subordinate drakes for no reason. These are likely that way just because it’s in their genes, and these should be culled from your breeding flock, or, at the very least, removed from other drakes.
Note that “cull” does NOT necessarily mean “kill.” It just means to remove from the breeding population. If he gets along with humans, you could keep him and just not use him for breeding, or give away/sell him to someone who would like him for a pet. But he shouldn’t be bred, and if he’s a bully, he shouldn’t be allowed to stay with other drakes, for their safety.
Captain was the first drake of my current flock. (I had a small flock when I was about eight years old, but I chased them all the time, so they had zero trust in me.) Captain was babied and loved, coddled and kissed, handfed and petted, and lavished with attention and treats. I was still new to ducks, despite my childhood flock, and I knew very little.
I remember he did peck me. I of course thought it was just cute. He had no fear—and also no respect—for humans.
I don’t remember exactly how the aggression started, but at some point he came after me and bit me. I’m pretty sure I jumped away.
From then on, he knew he was boss and he told me so, every time I got near him. Sometimes I would get out of his way before he bit. Other times I would try making him stop it. I tried so many things. I swatted him with a stick, I shoved him with my foot, I held his bill shut, I dumped water on his head (ha, ha. He’d just stand there hissing), and I even tried pinning him down.
And then as soon as I finished pinning him (after maybe fifteen seconds?), I moved away before he could bite again. Clearly, I was not very determined or consistent.
I think the craziest thing I tried was putting a bucket on his head. It had zero effect on the aggression.
He wasn’t the most aggressive duck in the world. He wasn’t the type to come flying towards you and attack you with wings, claws, and bill. He’d mostly just bite, and that was only if you stayed near him and refused to move away.
So I just stayed away from him!
He was boss and he was happy with it. I was not boss and I guess I learned to live with it.
Then, a couple years later, I became interested in horse and dog training. I watched a lot of videos online. I also read a couple books about dog training. I noticed how all the good trainers had things in common, regardless of whether they trained dogs or horses, and even if their methods were very different. They emphasized things like “trust and respect, but not fear,” how all behavioral problems were the owner’s fault and not the animal’s, how you had to be consistent, how you should never ask for something without making sure you got what you asked for, how you had to understand how the animal thinks, and so on.
In addition to that, I also got two new drakes and was able to witness what a real fight looked like and how the top drake maintained his position in the pecking order.
I also read some online about defeating aggressive drakes. I didn’t find much help there, but slowly everything came together.
And I went out and defeated Captain.
He still likes me. I can walk up to him and pet him any day. But he’ll also get out of my way if I lightly “peck” him. We get along well.
Your drake attacks you either because he thinks he’s boss, or because he wants to mate you.
For the latter problem, give him more females, and then teach him that you are not an acceptable target by blocking all his attacks with a broom or other similar object.
For the former, put yourself above him in the pecking order by simulating a fight like he would have with another drake. When he tries to attack you, pin him down and hold him down for at least two minutes, and longer if he’s still struggling. Repeat if necessary.
Be consistent and determined. Don’t give up. Never let him win a fight and never back down. Don’t bluff and don’t say anything you don’t mean.
Once he realizes you are dominant, he won’t attack you. It always works. There’s no need to butcher him, unless you personally prefer to.
And I wish you success in having a happy, healthy, respectful relationship with your drake.
Most animals spend a lot of time eating. As you probably know, factory-farmed chickens are constrained in battery cages and not allowed to find their own food. Here’s an eye-opening, fascinating video called “Eat To Live” that explores what those things actually SYMBOLIZE for us in the Word of God. It’s certainly food for thought! 🙂
Video from Inspire4.
Oh my ! I understand your recommendation to pin my duck down .he is big , but I will put on jeans and do it. I really don’t want more female ducks .quacker and violet are close inseparable companions . They go everywhere together .i am not fond of poop either and I hose yard twice daily . I am sure quacker wants to mate with me. He wags his tail and cant come towards me fast enough . So far after hitting him with a wooden cane ,rake two times ,when he kept jumping and biting me ,this has not happened since .i have been using a forceful hose spraying him to back off when he gets too close . I spray until he walks away . He does return though . I can’t do lots of spraying with a hose in one hand ,simultaneously feeding , raking leaves ,and cleaning the pool .with the other hand very easily .he wags his tail ,gets excited ,begins to hiss and raises his head feathers ,when I’m near him .I don’t wait until he leaps . Sometimes we stand on either side of gate . I don’t let him chase me away . It’s a Mexican stand off . I go in the yard but I don’t turn my back on him . I never hand fed or stood over food .
He does not get treats but regular duck food that ,I put in a covered dog house. Question when he gets excited next to me is that when I pin him . .? Sometimes it’s when he sits on fence when I walk by. So I should wait until he comes down walks next to me then pin him .right ?im not looking forward to doing this .but I will ,I also will not relent . Actually i am already a dominant ,kind ,care taking woman . I don’t give in or give up but I can collaborate ,take turns and cooperate . So now I’m willing to act like a duck .ok ! I loved your article and found it interesting ,easy to understand and very funny .you were clear and direct to the point. You went straight Identifying the problem . You gave a clear direct solution . You understood and explained the ways of a Drake . I appreciate your consoling , empathy for loving ducks and explaining options. Mostly I liked your direct honesty .
I am so grateful. You responded to me quickly . I can send you a picture of my two ducks . I think they are beautiful .if you still,think I need more females let me know . Would violet be relieved or jealous? She seems to be able to hold her own with quacker recently. But I was worried he had a lot of sex with her for a while and when she was brooding .. She can fly away from him and he’s too heavy to fly too high . Thank you so much .once again I’m familiar with good writing and you were practically perfect.
My drake will peck at my leg but what concerns me is he is very rough with the females. He will grab and twist their feathers and peck their necks hard. This is a new female I’ve had her for 4 days now and he won’t stop. I finally crated him because I’m concerned he’ll hurt her. Any ideas?? Thanks.
Unfortunately, this is rather normal and there is really nothing you can do to make him stop. It’s just what some drakes are like. Mating always looks kind of rough, but if he’s actually hurting them and tearing up their feathers badly, the only solution is to separate him. Sometimes adding more females helps, but not always, especially if he has a “favorite.”
Is he young? Young drakes are way more likely to go crazy with hormones. My drakes often act pretty crazy for their first few months of maturity, but gradually calm down. I have plenty of females, so it never goes farther than just a few feathers missing on the back of their neck. Breeding season is usually also rougher.
If he is targeting one female, I would suggest separating her and also giving her a buddy. You can try reintroducing her in a few days or a week and see if he’s any better. If he’s really rough with all of them, more females might help.
Hopefully, though, he’ll just calm down when he gets older, or after breeding season, or both. Some owners have to separate their drakes during breeding season, even though they’re fine the rest of the year.
Hope that helps!
Thanks for the reassuring words.My Drake call duck bites me when I lift up his girlfriend so I took the advice of holding him between my hands for 2 mins.Early days yet but I appreciate the help.Stay safe.🐤🐤
Hi, I have a question, I walk around a neighborhood park and there are many Muscovy ducks. I noticed one had fishing line tied around his legs and could not walk very well. I calle a bird rescue group and they sent someone and I helped cut the fishing line and free his legs. After that he would come when he saw me and talk to me and wag his tail. Then last week he decided to run at me full force and peck at my legs, of course I ran away. To which he flew and followed me until I could swish him away with my feet. I read your article on how to handle the duck so the next time I walked around the park he did the same thing, so I grabbed him and held him to the ground for at least 2 minutes. People gathered around asking what I was doing, I let him go and he walked away. I went yesterday to walk and he ran at me again, I turned a corner and he crossed the road ran across another yard to catch me, a person was there with their dog that I was talking to so he turned and went away. This duck can spot me form yards away and run to me, what is going on. I don’t feed him, he is not my duck and I have never pet him. I did talk to him when I went by before he started this more aggressive communication style. He can really run fast now also. What should I do, other than changing my walking location.
Kudos to you for assisting him with the fishing line! 🙂 I’m sorry he turned aggressive after that.
If it’s not too embarrassing and there aren’t too many people around, you could continue with the pinning technique. However, I suppose you don’t want to do that. If I was you, I might carry a walking stick or umbrella with me while walking to fend him off and shove him away. At the very least, he won’t be able to attack you. He might also just give up attacking you eventually. Or he might even be so afraid of the stick/umbrella that he won’t get near at all.
I wonder if, when you say, “he would come when he saw me and talk to me and wag his tail,” he might have actually been challenging you to a fight. There are differences between friendly talking and a challenge, but they’re rather subtle and you may not have noticed. If you were walking, you probably eventually walked on past him. He would have seen this as you obeying him and leaving his territory, which would have raised his confidence and convinced him that he did indeed rule. Thus, it escalated into a full attack once he was sure he had the right to do so.
I hope that helps!
Hi Hannah, I have hand raised a lot of Males over time and to me that sounds more like mating aggression, you showed dome interest to him ( as an injured male, her was bottom of the males, so no female would be interested) so now he is feeling better he wants to reward you by making you his duck.
This might sound weird, but I have personally found ( an read) that Muscoveys are fairly telepathic animals, so when I become the fantasy of a male I mimic the female , i remember that although the males can and do rape unwilling female, it is the female that chooses her male mate, and she can choose more than one. so I start off with headbobbing, let the male bite at my shoes for a moment, gently peck the back of his head like a female, all while thinking “yes, I am your duck” he will then preen and start wagging his tale, because he knows that you are his duck and one day you will let him mate you.
Works for me every time!
Also, young males from 3-6months will try everything in the book to get a willing female. I find them the most dangerous.
Hope it helps
Oh and if all else hails, try flapping your much bigger wings as it is definitely size that matters with ducks, so run and flap right back!!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve never fully hand raised a duck, and my drakes have always had access to a plethora of females, so I’m actually not that experienced with mating aggression. Thus I’m not really sure what the difference is between dominance aggression and mating aggression. What do you think the difference is, behaviorally? Why did it “sound more like mating aggression” to you?
Hi, I have a muscovy drake and 3 females. I am not sure if what he is doing is aggressive or just talking? He has pecked me once on the ankle enough for a bruise to form – I know that is aggression. He also waddles quickly to the door when he sees me approaching the run. I keep him at a distance when needed, but when should he be pinned down? Should I attempt it the next time he “gets in my space” and pecks at my shoe?
I guess I need to know where the line is drawn between communication and aggressiveness. He is about 5 months old. Thanks!
This video is an example of a Muscovy duck being slightly threatening/warning: https://youtu.be/hcvb5adsxsA
He’s not actually being aggressive here, but this could easily escalate into aggression. Often, his next step will be making short hisses and walking around you while dipping his head to the ground. Two drakes often walk in circles around each other, doing this head-dipping thing, for a few minutes, and then either they decide not to fight, or one of them initiates the attack.
I would not immediately pin him when he does what is shown in the video, but when he starts doing the head-dipping or getting ready to bite or peck, that’s when I would pin him down.
Fortunately, since he’s only five months old, he’s probably just testing you and it should be very easy to stop this behavior.
Hope that helps!
I live on a lake where we have lots of different breeds of ducks. In april 2018, I rescued 3 very small ducklings (2-3 days old). Mom no where around. We raised them until they could fend for themselves on the lake. Now they come and go from yard to lake as they please. Rarely will the 2 drakes show signs of aggression. But let us get in the lake to swim, and they are like dr jeckyl and mr hyde. They come at us with full aggression (biting and scratching) if they see us in the water. Very scary situation, no way to defend ourselves. How can we stop this?
This is mating behavior. I actually have this problem with my gander right now. He’s very nice normally, but he gets excited if I get in the pond with him and starts trying to bite and scratch. I have not yet found a permanent fix, as he still does it once in a while, but I’ve found that it’s possible to stop him by dunking him underwater and holding him for a few seconds. When he comes back up again, he usually does not try biting or scratching again.
Besides that little trick, you could also try the other suggestions I’ve given in the article, as many of them can work in water too. For example, you could carry a broom with you to defend yourself if necessary. And to prevent it from being a scary situation for you, you may have to get in the lake with heavy clothes on, at least the first times, so that you can deal with him without being afraid.
I hope that helps!
Hi Kathy, Ducks LOOVE to mate in water, it is terrifying to look at as the female seems to be drowning as he holds her head underwater but believe me, the girls find it equally pleasurable and will preen and coo for hours afterwards. So they think they are doing you a favor.
Try not to go in when they are around or only with a human male as they are young and will get the hint soon.
Will this technique also work with Muscovy hens? One of my girls is being very aggressive towards me and injuring other ducks. This is me behavior for her and I can’t seem to get her to snap out of it.
It wouldn’t help her aggression towards other ducks. I’m not sure about towards people. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. They do fight in the same way males do. However, I’ve never actually heard of anyone having a human-aggressive female that was bad enough that they had to try to stop it, so I can’t give you any success stories. I think it’s worth a try, at least. Let me know how it goes!
I am so glad I came across this information! I have been terrorized by my Muscovy Drake (Darth as in Darth Maul) for the past 2 weeks. We have 2 males and 2 females. It seems as if the other drake (Goliath) has taken over as the alpha-male in the past 2 days. Today, when Goliath began challenging me and bit my hand hard, I stood my ground and pinned him down. I’m sure it may take some time, but he did go on his way with his girls. My question is… even though I was so mad at Darth, now I have to admit I’m worried. He is completely different – almost ‘depressed!” He won’t chase the dogs or kids or me!! I know I should be happy, but I am afraid I have ruined him. He won’t leave the pond and isn’t hanging around the other 3 ducks. I was dreadfully afraid of him and honestly did push him into the water, but never tried to physically hurt him. Do you think the other drake taking over caused him to be upset? Do you think he is hurt? Thank you, in advance for all your help.
I’ve sort of seen this happen, although not quite to that extreme. When a drake is toppled from top position, especially if he’s held that spot for a while, he really does seem to be embarrassed or upset for a while. However, I don’t remember ever observing that kind of fearful, submissive behavior for more than a week or two. I think this will probably just be temporary and he’ll return to his daily life before too long.
Even if he continues acting much more submissive than he used to, I don’t think it was your fault. It sounds like he had a big fight with Goliath which made him realize he wasn’t quite so tough as he thought. 😂 And as long as Goliath isn’t bullying him, he’s alright.
If several weeks go by and he keeps acting depressed, you might consider either rehoming him, or getting more girls. Two to two isn’t a very good ratio, because it’s generally recommended to have at least five or six females per drake. Goliath will probably be quite protective of his two, which may mean that Darth stays cast out, unless there are enough females that Goliath won’t want them all.
Hope that helps!
A female Muscovy recently hatched her eggs there were two eggs left in the nest, I waited a day before I went to clean out the nest as she did not return, upon viewing the eggs I saw feet sticking out , I opened up the eggs and ans two babies emerged. I cared for them for about a week and found a mother with chicks about the same age, she took them with with her then later that evening one of the babies came running back to us, I am now caring for it but I am concerned as it gets bigger what to do, the baby is in the spare bathroom in the tub as we do have hawks and other predatory birds. The baby is about 3 weeks old and the other mother has not appeared again. I am afraid it will not learn how to forge for itself and has not been in water even though I tried putting a basin with water in it the baby did not want anything to do with it, I live in a mobile home park and they do not like Muscovey Ducks as they poop all over the place and may take measures to get rid of them. I live in Florida.
Thank you so much for this very informative article- i was getting desperate so grateful for your posting
I have 9 total ducks of which 2 are drakes. There are two ducks and a drake that are the parents of the others. The problem is the older drake attacks one of the younger females every chance he gets. He chases her away from the group and has worn all the feathers off of the back of her head and neck. He also bites her back. They usually walk around the yard in two groups. The older three and the younger five. I have tried to keep them separate, which keeps the peace but is time consuming. Is there a way to keep this drake from attacking this one duck? Also, he is not mating with her, he just beats her down. It is February and the temps are single digits, so I fear when the weather warms up and the drakes naturally become aggressive. Thanks.
This happens fairly frequently. Unfortunately, there isn’t really any solution apart from separating either the drake or the duck. Perhaps you could put a partition in their yard or coop to make a separate area for the drake or duck, and maybe after a few weeks you can reintroduce them and he will have forgot his obsession with her. You could also sell or rehome the drake or duck. But no, I don’t think there’s any way to actually make him stop attacking.
Hope that helps!
I’m having aggression issues between my male duck (around 18 months old) and my Pug (9 year old female). I would love some guidance!! I don’t have any experience with raising birds.
We also have 2 hens who live separately (on the top level of my backyard). They are not an issue and usually not involved unless we put Pancake (duck) on their level when we have visitors in the backyard.
We have only had Pancake for a few months (we didn’t raise him, and he came from a home with a staffie dog and they were apparently besties) and he roams the backyard freely. Pug is an inside dog and only goes out to the toilet or if we’re out there too. I am also not really Pug’s “master” – my partner raised her and he is the only person she really listens to in discipline situations.
Initially Pancake would chase and peck Pug when we were all out there together. It has gradually turned more violent and two of the fights have resulted in Pancake bleeding from bites to his beak. It is absolutely Pancake who initiates and persists with the aggression – Pug would always just run away/avoid in the beginning. I have to break the fights up, because Pancake keeps going no matter how many times he gets bitten!!
After reading your article here I can see now that Pancake thinks he is dominant because Pug never retaliated. Now though, Pug is taunted to the point of retaliation and it’s only a matter of time before Pancake gets seriously injured.. It’s at the point now where Pug avoids going outside, and if we’re out there I have to lock her inside because she gets protective when the kids and I are out there (Pancake also has a go at my 1 year olds if they are walking around).
Is there any way to resolve this at all?? If I try being the boss and becoming boss duck will Pancake still fight with the Pug? Does Pancake need a friend? Is separation the best solution?
Look forward to hearing back from you!!
I had a sort-of similar, although less tricky, situation when I first got Nora, a German Shepherd. She was a shy puppy, and the geese would chase her. They didn’t usually bite her, because she’d run away and stay away. At that point, I figured I was fine with it. She could run faster than they could, our yard was big, so there was plenty of room to escape. As she grew older and more confident, the tables turned. Now the geese leave when they see her. Nora is very good with birds, though, and I’m not extremely worried about her hurting them.
I don’t know if there is a good, reliable way to stop a duck from being aggressive to a dog. Standing up for Pug yourself might help, but I can’t see it being a permanent solution. It might be worth trying, though, since at least if Pancake will move away from you if you ask him to, then Pug will be safe outside if she’s with you.
Since it’s easier to teach a dog what to do than to teach a duck what to do, I think it would be good to teach Pug to run away, as she did before. It’s too dangerous to just let her continue retaliating. It won’t help the aggression any, but at least nobody gets hurt that way.
And if you can separate them, that would be a perfectly good solution too, I think. Ducks and dogs don’t always get along and often it’s hard to do anything about it.
If Pancake is alone most of the time, yes, he needs a friend, regardless of whether it influences the aggression situation. You mentioned two hens–are they duck hens or chicken hens?
So it would be good for Pancake to have a couple friends, and it would be good to separate them if that’s an easily feasible solution. If not, then I would try teaching Pug not to fight while also protecting her from Pancake. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s all I can think of right now.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.
HALLELUJAH cannot THANK YOU ENOUGH for this article!
Years ago i had a pair of Pekins that were tame i really loved them so i recently decided to get some more ,only pronlem is Mr Duck has been incurably agressive, even when i got him some girlfriends
Walking around with a yard rake and spraying him is just plain tiresome to need to be doing all the time
Ive needed to pin him 3 times so far and im sure i will need to reinforce this several more times but after i release him he seems to get the idea he doesnt want more of the same 🤣
May i ask if there is a way to tame the 2 girls i got for him? They came from a farm and are skittish …..it would be nice to be able to tame and pet them
Congratulations! I’m so glad you found the article helpful and had success with your drake.
To get skittish ducks used to you, you can start by simply spending time in the enclosure with them, if you have time. Find out how far away you have to get before the duck is comfortable, and then try to slowly reduce that boundary. For example, if the ducks are comfortable eating while you’re ten feet away, then sit and watch them from ten feet away. The next day, you can sit nine feet away. Eventually, you should be able to be very close to the food bowl while the ducks are eating, and from there you can slowly progress to letting the ducks eat out of your hand (delicious treats like peas, cucumbers, or mealworms really help). Touching a fearful duck is difficult, though. I have two ducks who flew away from their home and somehow landed at my place. I don’t know where they came from, so I kept them. They were extremely fearful, and I still can’t touch either one without them freaking out and running away. But if the ducks are now comfortable with your presence and are willing to eat out of your hand, you can start moving your hands around them and gradually getting closer until you touch them on the back for just one second. Keep them distracted with food while you do this. In general, though, you never want to go too far outside your duck’s comfort zone, or you’ll terrify them. You just want to nudge at the borders of their comfort zone and slowly push those borders back over the course of a few weeks without overwhelming them.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have questions or if you’d like more tips, and good luck!
I have two bully drakes, 5 months old. They’d never mess with me, but they do terrorize all the chickens and other ducks/drakes; run them away from the common pool, the food, etc., even though there is plenty of both for everyone. I started putting them in a pen for a day when I catch them pinning down their own hen Mama, so far it didn’t make them stop.
Yeah, I can pin both gangsta drakes down, but they already know I’m the boss. What next, I put the hen Mama on their pinned down a**?
Sorry for the late reply! Unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to teach drakes to stop bullying others. Sexual aggression is normal, especially at this age when they’re young and their hormones are raging. As long as they’re not hurting the female, their mom, I wouldn’t worry about that. If she’s the only female they have available, you really need more. You need approximately 5-8 females per drake. If you can’t do that, then it would probably be best to just permanently separate the two drakes. Drakes usually get along fine together if they don’t have females to fight over. Or perhaps you could try separating them for a few weeks or months until they’re older and calmer and until breeding season is over. Or, depending on your purpose in having these drakes in the first place, you could eat them.
Bullying and aggression are frustrating issues, especially since the only real solution (that I know of) is separation. It would honestly be fantastic if it worked to manually place the other ducks on top of the bullies, but I highly doubt that will work. 😀
what if there’s more than one duck attacking? That’s my problem. It started with one, now 2 others have followed suit, so I can handle this method with one of them but they are at each other’s side and while I’m pinning one down—don’t want to be attacked by the other 2 while doing it.
Sorry for the late reply! That sounds like a tricky scenario. Is there a way for you to separate the other two (such as by leaving them in the coop temporarily) while you deal with one? Or perhaps someone else can help you? Or perhaps wear very protective clothing so you can ignore the other two drakes while pinning one down? My sister just suggested pinning down one with one hand, the other with the other hand, and the third with your knees, but that sounds tricky. LOL.
I can’t think of much else right now, but I hope you find something that works!
Hi Hannah—Thanks for all of the advice! I like the first idea of separating them—I will try that. As I’m watching them and interacting with them, it seems that the ‘alpha’ duck title is changing between 2 of them. One use to be the first to attack—then one of the others started to attack first—while that first one sat back a bit before he came toward me for an attack. Note that the first, also significantly larger than any of them, had a wound that may have come from one of the other ducks and the reason that changed. Now he’s back to be the first, seems like they are in a never ending battle —maybe because they are so young (spring they will be a year old). Thanks again for the help 🙂
Glad to help! Drake pecking orders do change from time to time. My drakes are older and their pecking order is fairly stable, but when they were younger, they fought a lot, and the order changed every time the result of a fight was different from the last one.
I raised 2 ducklings (saved their lives). They are male Muscovy ducks 2 weeks apart in age. At 4 months old /other 4 1/2 months old, they had flight wings so I took them to canal near me. That was in November. The 4 month old(Baby) slowly adjusted to canal and has been fine there since. The other one (Buddie) still hasn’t! He’d leave the canal ( always seemed afraid of all the ducks) and return to my complex and go after people. I know he wants to mate because he tries to mate on me. Otherwise, he’s a sweet drake. I have had to continuously take him back in. Sadly, I cannot keep him . I live in a condo unfortunately. I can’t take the risk of someone hurting him because they are afraid or don’t like Muscovy ducks. I have been trying to find a safe place ( no people around) and I don’t know where to go. He is 7 months old already and I need help finding a place or a good home where he would be around female Muscovy ducks only. Maybe then he’ll only want female ducks. I love him very much. I live in Broward County, Florida. I would appreciate if you can help me. Thank you.
You could try posting him on Craigslist, Adoptapet.com, here, or another similar place. A rescue or shelter is another option. Here’s one in Florida: http://www.duckhaven.org/
I hope you find him a home, but do be aware that very few people want male ducks, especially Muscovies, and those that do sometimes want them to eat them. If you’re not comfortable with the possibility that this duck may be eaten, it will be harder to find a good home for him.
I hope you find a solution!
I am not comfortable adopting Buddie out because of the risk you mentioned. He’s been outside for past week but he chases some people. He’s less aggressive but people are getting annoyed. At canal, some males attacked him but thankfully Buddie won each time. I think that’s why he came back to my place. He doesn’t respond to the female flirting and doesn’t go after them like males do. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time. I let him back on patio yesterday because of stress – for him and me. I am letting him out again and hoping he will adapt. I mentioned that my other male duck-Baby, has been out since 11/22 but about a month ago, he wasn’t at canal anymore. I found him 2 blocks away with a girlfriend( and a few other ducks) but it’s only a grass area. I’ve been feeding him daily. Yesterday, he wasn’t there. The other ducks were still there. Someone told me the lawn guys were there so I think it scared him off. I did find him and guided him back to grass area. He looked awful! Thinner and dry mouth. I put food and water on wall where he was sitting and he went to bowl. I don’t know how to get him back to canal. I know ducks are smart but could it be possible he lost his way when he followed female duck? He wouldn’t come to me yesterday which was strange. I can’t catch him so I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? I will let you know about Buddie. Duck Haven hasn’t returned my calls about help with Buddie. I will be calling again if Buddie doesn’t adapt soon. Thank you for your reply.
I’m so sorry I forgot to reply. How are Buddie and Baby? Have you found a solution yet?
I found some interesting information about Duck Haven here: https://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/articles/misunderstood-mistreated-maligned-muscovy/ Maybe you already know this, but it sounds like the owner of Duck Haven only keeps disabled and injured ducks, and rehomes healthy ones.
As for Buddie trying to mate people instead of other ducks, that’s probably because he was hand-raised and wasn’t around female ducks until he was an adult (at least that’s what I assume from what you’ve said). I don’t know if he’ll figure things out on his own eventually or not, but hopefully he will.
It sounds like Baby did have a bad scare and learned that people are not as trustworthy as he has always believed. He used to trust you, right? If you keep offering him food, he should regain his trust at least part of the way, and then you can take him back to the canal if that’s a better place for him to be. I’m not sure how good ducks are at remembering locations. Many ducks whose owners haven’t clipped their wings end up flying away, getting lost, and never returning to their owner. But I once sold a few ducks to a neighbor who lived about a mile away, and she found her way back to our place two days later. It’s possible Baby got lost, but it’s also possible he just thought he liked the grass area better, especially if he has company there.
Thanks for trying to take care of them and make their life a little easier and safer. 🙂 I get so many emails from people trying to help feral Muscovy ducks and it’s honestly such a sad situation. They’re an invasive species and were never meant to live there, so their lives are difficult.
Wow Thankyou. My 9 yr old classically, unknowingly pet trained her drake Jack Hammer and yup now he is constantly trying to dominate her. Her heart broke this morning when she came in with a bruised twisted pinch on her leg. So I said it’s time to research and came across your wonderful blog post. So… I showed her what to do on my beautifully submissive husky lol and she shall put it to the test. TBH I am not sure if he is trying to mate or just being dominant so if this doesn’t work we shall get some more females. These two we got from eggs in the wild and are khaki Campbell’s so I hope it works. The female is fine. Great lesson for my daughter tho. She’s also learning to ride a horse at the moment so it’s all relevant 🙂 again Thankyou for the best information we found on the net. Wish us luck.
I’m glad it was helpful! Good luck with the duck training. I hope it goes well! Let me know if you have any questions or run into problems.
I have a Pekin drake in with my 4 chickens. They all seem to get along well. He’s become very aggressive and I’ve tried the dominance thing but I don’t think I’ve fully committed. After rereading your post I’m going to redouble my efforts.
My question is around if he’s lonely or needs a duck flock. He seems okay with the chickens but I don’t know if it’s enough.
Thanks for all the info.
Yes, he could be lonely. Chickens are better than nothing, but he can’t communicate with them the same way he could with other ducks. Also, he could try to mate your hens, and due to the anatomy differences between ducks and chickens, he could kill them. Even if nothing has happened yet, you never know. Please do get him a few friends! 🙂 It could even help his aggression. And I hope you have success with calming his aggression down as well!
I can’t thank you enough! We mistook our Drake’s advances as being friendly or looking for treats. We thought it was so cute when he would follow us – until he began biting my legs! It got very annoying. After reading your article, we were able to fix the problem easily.
Wonderful! I’m so glad to hear you were able to fix the problem! 🙂
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I rescued 2 a baby male muscovies back in March who were abandoned by their mom at birth and on the brink of dehydration and hypothermia in my apartment complex. 4 months later they are fully grown, and we fell in love with them and thought they were domesticated so we were fully committed to raising them for the rest of their lives. Well they are sexually matured now and I believe their sex drives have completely taken over them. One of them didn’t seem happy anymore living with us anymore. He was constantly trying to mate with me and acting super dominant towards my boyfriend. Every time one of us walked by he’d make the hissing sounds and try to bite us, one time he literally flew at my boyfriends face. We really didn’t want to give them up but it was becoming unbearable for all of us. Long story short they are outside in the community lake where we originally found them, they really do seem to love it and we visit them everyday and make sure they are fed. My problem is the one that was originally trying to mate with me tries to do it BAD every time I go outside. He doesn’t seem to have interest in any of the ducks and freaks out and latches onto my leg when he sees me. I cant really sit on him outside when theres people looking out of their windows but I have been grabbing his beak and holding it down for at least 30 seconds, that seems to work in the moment but the next time I go out he just does it again. We are in the process of looking for a place with a big yard so we can keep them there and I wont have to worry about them out there, but in the meantime I am worried sick about him doing that to other people and it coming off as aggressive towards them and he might somehow get himself in trouble. I care about them both so much and only put them out there because I wanted to give them a beautiful life but I know people think they are an invasive species. (We originally tried to look into a sanctuary for them to live at but they only offered to euthanize them, so this was our only option for now) the thought of anything happening to them breaks my heart. I guess I just need some advice lol thank you!
I’m so sorry for the late reply. Your question somehow slipped through the cracks. I don’t know if this will be useful for you anymore. I hope you’ve found an answer or a home for them by now. Anyway, the sitting on a drake method is better for drakes that are trying to be dominant, and this sounds like sexual aggression, so I think carrying an object like a broom or stick to hold him back and prevent him from biting and maybe even chase him away might work better. Unfortunately, hand-raised drakes who aren’t around females while they’re young often have a hard time adjusting to living with normal ducks.
I agree that this isn’t the safest place for him. I know some people will even kill innocent ducklings in an attempt to reduce the numbers of feral Muscovies. Maybe you can move him to a more remote area where people aren’t around? Or is there a chance you can keep him yourself until you find somewhere else for him to live? The latter option is safer for him, but the former might work better if you’re not able to give him a home yourself.
Again, I hope you’ve already found a home for him by now, but if not, good luck! Muscovy drakes are extremely disadvantaged and I have heard from so many people who rescue them, can’t keep them, find out what a hard life it is for them living ferally, and can’t find other homes for them. It’s hard and there are unfortunately no perfect answers.
Hi their I have a problem. It not a pecking order against us humans it about our ducks. Donald he was our only male Pekin duck. He we bought two new ducks they are both females and they are Crested Ducks. Once they turned eight weeks old we put them in with Donald. All a sudden he started attacking them and whenever they are in thr pool he mates them which I heard it does happen. After we got rid of the pool for the winter, we think Donald done attacking and trying to mate them. Then, all a sudden when they turned like twelve weeks old he started doing his pecking order again. My parents had enough and we seperated him away from them and our two other pekin females. My mom decided we need another male duck to keep him calm down. We did, and it seems he kind of little bit attacking them. We do not want to get rid of him, no he like family towards us. Any advice???
So sorry for the late reply!
Oh no, don’t get another male duck! In the long run, that will make it worse. What you need is more females. In fact, if you can’t get rid of that second male you just got, you’ll need a LOT more females.
If you have more than one drake, you need at least 4-5 females per drake, or the females could be overmated or killed.
What Donald is doing doesn’t have anything to do with pecking order. Males don’t establish dominance over females. He probably isn’t attacking them either (although I have seen drakes attack ducklings). He’s probably just mating.
Now, these two Crested ducks are too young to be mated. If you had a good amount of females, then he would be likely to ignore the young ones until they were old enough, but since you only have two other Pekin females (if I understand correctly), he isn’t satisfied with just them and wants to go after the young ones already.
You should probably separate the two younger females until they’re four to five months old (16-20 weeks).
By the way, you probably don’t need to get rid of their pool for the winter. They are fine in near-freezing water and will like it just as much as they usually do.
If you can permanently keep the two drakes together in one area and all the females together in another area, that should work. The males might fight a little, but it shouldn’t be too bad. But if you want them all together, you’ll have to get rid of the second drake and wait until the ducklings are older before putting them in.
Hope that helps!
Not sure if this is the right place to post this but I’m really struggling. I have a single Rouen Drake (Godzilla) who is 6 months old and 5 chickens. While the drake was unforeseen, I now love him to bits. Unfortunately he has taken a liking to 2 of my five hens (no rooster – and I am not allowed to get one where I live). At first he’d just bite them a bit whenever I walked by to feed them but then I found him pulling them into his pond if they got too close, so I separated him from them. It is currently late-spring (southern hemisphere). I am terrified that he might drown them, and he tore the comb of another, but he really isn’t enjoying being separated. It is just by a fence so he can still hear and see them, and one chicken (thankfully not one of his favourites) has figured out how to fly over the fence to join him, which calms him down every now and then. He used to sleep with the hens so now I have to wrestle him a bit at night to put him in his own coop and I hate seeing him so distressed. He grew up with the hens so he’s imprinted on them. Would getting a duck help at all, (I would only have room for one though) or should I just stick with it and hope he gets used to it? I don’t want him to be sad and lonely for the rest of his life.
Any advice would be so helpful I don’t know what to do!
Yes, he really needs some females!
Trying to mate chickens is dangerous, not only because he could drown them, but because drakes and roosters have completely different anatomy and he could severely injure the hens.
But keeping him alone is definitely distressing.
Giving him a female will probably be the best option. The only issue with that is that when a drake only has one female, he can sometimes overmate her.
Another option actually is another male. Two males often get along well.
Whatever you do, don’t let him back in with the chickens. He’ll get used to not being with them, but he should have a companion of his own kind.
It’s possible you’ll be able to put him back with the chickens if you get him a female companion, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. Drakes with chickens usually only works if the drake has multiple females (around 5 or more) to keep him happy.
Hope that helps!
Hello there. We have 2 mallard hens, 2 Khaki hens, and 2 khaki drakes that were all hatched the last week of March. Around when the girls started laying a few months ago, we rescued 2 adult drakes, one buff orpington and one white crested, and they’ve lived together for a couple years. Those 2 drakes were the bullies and kept everyone in line, so both seemed like the alpha’s. My wife recently found a 1.5 year old male and female Cayuga pair, and they immediately tried pecking order challenging, and the buff and crested drake pair instantly had them under control. We also have two 4 month old jumbo Pekin females, but they are bigger than all so nobody messes with them. As they get older and always knowing the drake problem in the back of my head, I got rid of the buff and crested last Monday to a friend with a large flock. The plan is to replace those 2 with 2-4 more females.
Suddenly the Cayuga drake is the biggest and wants to face off with the slightly larger Khaki drake who was the alpha before and wanted to resume that role when the 2 adult drakes left. The problem is they are too evenly matched and neither will back down, at all. Today (Friday) the khaki sustained some bill bleeding up toward his face, as it seems the Cayuga is older and better at fighting. Tonight when they went to bed I put the center divider in the duck house so the Cayuga’s and pekin’s are in one side because they hang together, and Khaki’s and mallards on the other side since they are the original 6 that all get along great.
Is my only option to keep this particular separation for a while in the duck house at night and also during the day in the yard? Would the hold down dominance method work to make the 2 fighters stop? They are egg laying pets and all have names and great personalities, so getting rid of any more is not an option for my wife and I, or our kids. The dog is good at separating them when they fight, but she isn’t outside very often (lazy). I also don’t want any serious injuries. Any advice is really appreciated. Thank you!
Getting four more females would be a good idea. They tend to fight less if they have plenty of girls. It’s best to have at least 4-5 females per drake, so if you get four more, you’ll have 11 females to 3 drakes, right? That would be 3.6 per drake, which is still a bit low, so it would be better to get 5 or 6 females.
The holding down trick only works for drakes that try to challenge humans.
I’m not sure whether you should keep them separated. If they can come to an agreement as to who is dominant, they will probably stop fighting.
But if they really are evenly matched and can’t agree, then yes, they could injure or kill each other.
Keeping them separated for now would be good, but it likely won’t solve the problem in the long run. They might get along better after breeding season (usually late winter and spring).
If you do put them together and they fight again, let them, at first. If their fight gets interrupted or broken up, they will be forced to start over from scratch later. They have to finish the fight. If one fight goes on too long (I don’t know, maybe fifteen minutes or more), if anyone is getting hurt, or if they seem to finish a fight two or more times but still keep fighting, then separate them. Otherwise, give them a chance to work it out.
Again, I’m not exactly sure what the best option is, especially since I can’t actually see their behavior, but I think I’d keep them separated for now, get at least four and preferably five or six females, and then try putting the drakes together again. If that doesn’t work, I’d separate them until July or so and then try again. If they still can’t be together, well, then, I guess you do have to keep them apart.
Hope that helps!
Hi! I have a muscovy drake (I think he’s a drake), who is only about 3 or 4 months old. Lately he’s been trying to dominate me and attack, breathing really heavily and then bobbing his head while lifting one wing up. Does this sound more mating-related or aggression-related? I’ve tried to pin him down and sit on him, which works for a little while until I come back outside and he continues to do the whole thing again. He does try to nip my partner (male), but he seems to be especially brutal with me (female).
It sounds more like dominance aggression. However, if you don’t have any or not very many females, sexual aggression is still a possibility.
The head bobbing sounds like dominance aggression, but I’m not sure what the lifting one wing up is. I don’t remember seeing that behavior before. If you’d like, you can send me a video or picture. I’d like to see the wing lifting thing and I should also then be able to tell you which type of aggression it is. Here’s my email address:
One mistake I’ve seen several people make is walking away from their drake after pinning him down. I don’t know if you’re doing that, but that could undermine all your efforts. The winner never walks away after a fight; it’s the loser that has to walk away.
It might still take some time before he fully gives up even if you’re doing everything right, but don’t give up yourself. And try to be consistent.
It seems normal for a drake to be more interested in one person than another. I remember when our geese were young and tried to challenge us. They came to respect me quickly, but they still challenged my sister often, even though she’s around the geese as often as I am and treats them the same. They also were quite aggressive towards my brother, but that was because he kept running away from them. 🙂
I have 4 white ducks 2 male 2 female and one male is very aggressive with one female. Her neck and back feathers have been wore off. I fell sry for her. How do I make him stop attacking her or mating her , he is wearing her down and she not gonna make it if this keeps up. Should I get rid of him? It’s been almost a year now. First time for ducks for me.
Yes, you need to remove him! He could kill her if you don’t. The other option would be to get more females. Your ratio isn’t ideal anyway. In flocks with multiple drakes, you need at least 4 females per drake, which means it would be best if you had at least 8 females. (In a flock with one drake, it sometimes works to have just one female, but in other cases it’s still necessary to have multiple.)
If you get more females, it’s possible he’ll still just stick to his favorite, but it’s also possible he’ll be glad to have other females and everyone will be happier and safer.
If you decide to rehome him, be sure he goes to a flock with either only males or plenty of females. If he goes to a home with just one or two females, you might just be giving your problem to someone else.
Drakes vary and some are much nicer than others. The rough ones don’t usually reform. It’s not really possible to “make him stop.” The only options are adding new distractions to the flock, putting him in a new flock, or putting him in a “bachelor flock” with just males.
We are really appreciative of your advice! Working!
Thank you! I’m glad to hear it!
Hi we’ve adopted 2 ducks from my school, they were incubated and hatched at school as a learning tool for the children. I am a welfare assistant, I fell in love with them as soon as they were hatched. The children begged me to adopt 2, as they wanted to see they grow up, not just returned to a farm. So me my husband researched and brought them home. They have been great pets, mix with my dogs well and have been brilliant for a year. Anyway as they grew we realised we have 2 drakes, now and again they get aggressive with each other, but soon it finishes. One has Starting to become aggressive to us, so I will start to use your techniques. My question is can 2 Drakes live peacefully together in a garden or will there be serious trouble.
A lot of people do keep “bachelor flocks” of just drakes. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the temperaments of the individual drakes. The main issue that can arise is that they still have hormones and will still try to mate with something, whether that be their companion, humans, or even shoes or other inanimate objects. As long as they’re not too rough with each other and don’t cause injuries, yes, they should be able to live peacefully together. The one that’s being aggressive towards you is probably being sexually aggressive and not dominance aggressive, so I’m not sure how feasible it will be to permanently stop his behavior, but hopefully you can at least manage it. Good luck. 🙂
Thank you for your reply and guidance. It’s much appreciated. 👌👍
Two questions: I have two chickens and my male Pekin duck keeps trying to mate with them. I have picked him up and held him tight several times, but he is strong willed! Does he need a psychologist? 😉 I won’t have “chucks” will I?
I have one female Pekin duck, and just yesterday got four female ducklings. How do I integrate them? Do I have to do anything special? How old should the ducklings be when I introduce them to the older two? Will my female accept them, or will they fight?
That’s six questions. 🙂
1. That technique probably only works for dominance aggression against humans. I don’t know if it works when the target is something else, and it doesn’t work well for drakes that are just trying to mate. You won’t be able to stop him from mating chickens if that’s what he wants to do, unless you separate him.
2. No, it’s impossible to cross ducks and chickens. In fact, it’s dangerous for a drake to try to mate a hen, because drakes have completely different ‘equipment’ than roosters. Drakes can kill hens, so I would recommend separating the ducks and chickens, if at all possible.
3 & 4. Start with see-but-not-touch housing, where they’re together but separated by a fence so no one can get hurt. After that, you can put them together for a short supervised meeting. This is best done in a large area so the babies have room to run away if they need to. It’s also best done when everyone’s busy and distracted swimming or free ranging or something. If it goes well, you can leave them together, but keep a close eye on them until you’re sure they’re all right together.
5. It’s best to only introduce ducklings to a drake once they’re old enough to be mated, which is about 16 weeks.
6. I don’t think they’ll fight, but it’s possible the female will peck them and show them she’s boss at first. A bit of pecking is normal and probably isn’t a problem as long as she doesn’t keep chasing and chasing them or beat them up and hurt them.
Thanks for this article. I definitely did it all wrong raising Poche especially as I have a variety of helpers come through who adored him as a baby. I’ve done this method with him and so he’s not aggressive with me but there’s a rotation of people here and he’s been aggressive with them. Does each new person have to go through the pinning process?
I’m guessing the answer is yes. Chickens have been found to be able to recognize up to 100 individual faces, and ducks are smarter than chickens, so your drake can definitely tell who is intimidated by him and who isn’t.
Everyone will at least have to make sure they don’t encourage aggression in any way, which most people accidentally do by moving the opposite direction. Maybe it won’t be necessary for every single person to do the pinning thing if he at least no longer gets any confirmation from anyone that he’s boss. Or maybe after the first two, three, or four people do it, he’ll decide people are bigger and stop trying to attack people.
Wow! I have 2, hand reared Aylesburies. A duck (George) & a drake (Mildred). I know the names are the wrong way round but, as we had the ducks from 2 weeks old, by the time their sex was revealed it was too late to swap the names over as they both actually respond to their names, especially George 😀
George and Mildred are now 22 weeks old and Mildred (the drake), has become quite dominant and aggressive over the last 2 weeks. It was nothing drastic, just charging at me as I was walking (Which of course I initially found hilarious). I also noticed that some of my footwear choices made this worse (Ugg boots were a big NO!
Things came to a head a couple of days ago when I was returning home from work. As I came through the back garden (wearing Ugg boots), Mildred charged at me and started to bite at my boots & legs. A gentle push with my foot gave me the chance to head for the back door. However, Mildred was hot on my tail and actually blocked the back door to stop me entering the house & then chased me away whilst attacking my feet & legs! I’m not proud to admit that I ran! Never been bit by a duck but can imagine it would hurt like hell!
My partner had witnessed all of this through the French doors and, between fits of laughter, opened the door and shouted for me to run for my life, which I did!
Having found sanctuary at the kitchen table, with a coffee in hand I turned to Google and stumbled across your post! I squirmed slightly at the thought of pinning down one of my feather babies and sitting on him but knew I had to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible!
On finishing reading, I went to carry out my regular routine of cleaning out the duck house replenishing food etc. As I walked towards the duck pool, I heard the familiar flip flap of feet and turned just in time to see Mildred launch himself at me! I’ve got to admit, my previous squirming fled and my fight or flight kicked in and before a knew it, I was squatted over Mildred and had him pinned to the ground with his neck with one hand and the other hand pressed firmly against his back! I held him like this for maybe 30 seconds and started to slowly release my (gentle) grip of his neck. It was obvious he was going to come up fighting so I pressed his neck back down and pecked him on the shoulder with my finger. This carried on for a further minute (felt like forever and was quite upsetting but there was no choice). Nearing 2 minutes I felt the fight leave Mildred’s body. I slowly released him and stood up but did not move away. Mildred then stood up and quickly walked away.
As traumatic as I found this, two days later and I’m walking around the garden freely and wearing whatever footwear I choose! I can’t believe this worked so quickly! Mildred doesn’t seem to hate me but definately has a lot more respect for me! He is slightly hesitant to take treats from my hand at the moment but is far gentler when he does! Believe it or not, he also seems to have a bit more respect for George too!
This is my first pair of ducks and I love them both dearly, I’ve been learning as I go, to no great detriment to Geoge & Mildred, who are both happy & healthy! My advice to anyone in a similar situation to mine and anyone feeling uncomfortable doing this, would be to just do it and do it as soon as the dominace rears its ugly head. Be firm, stand your ground, follow the advice in the post! Your drake will still love you, I promise!
Thank you so much for sharing this post! For making me a braver person and for saving me from having to buy a suit of armour! My respect for you matches Mildred’s for myself!
Thank you x
This is awesome! That’s the way to do it. It sounds like you did a great job.
Pinning a drake to the ground does make a lot of people uncomfortable, understandably, but in the end it’s the best thing for all involved.
I love that they respond to their names!
You’re welcome, and thanks for sharing your story! I hope Mildred continues to behave. 🙂
Thank you. a friend rehomed a Muscovy drake with me because she had two males… guessing this one was the more aggressive. every thing was fine for about five weeks and yesterday he attacked. it was a a hard attack, and my fault fr not keeping an eye on him and not taking the time to understand him. previous ducks were Peking ducks and two female mallards.. and he won because I was completely caught off guard and I will deal with him today. I knew about chasing roosters but he was not responding to me trying to chase him. the pinning thing makes total sense. I will preserver… the roo took several 15 minute chases.
Hope you succeed! Good luck! Perseverance is definitely important. 🙂
I have a drake and a hen and introduced another hen to the group however the drake is really being aggressive to the new hen. Constantly pecking at her feathers and ripping them out. Should I give her back or will the drake get over it?
I’m really worried about her.
He might get over it with time, but it’s hard to say for sure. Don’t let it get to the point where she starts showing bare patches from feather loss. If possible, I would separate them so they can see the new hen through a fence, but can’t touch her. That way they can get used to each others’ presence safely. After a week or two of that, you could try put them together again.
Thank you! This reinforced what I thought I should do with my very aggressive young Muscovy Drake. The huff and puff is cute but the bite on the back of the leg gets old pretty quickly. I tried pinning him until he relaxed like you would do a rowdy chicken but it wasn’t working. The don’t hand feed and 2min pin is absolutely excellent advice. I’d add that holding his head down by gently gripping his quiff feathers rather than holding his neck (got this idea from the male hold when they mate) controlled his head and neck with minimal force, so I didn’t feel so cruel!
That’s a good tip. As long as it’s enough to get the job done, of course we want to always use minimal force. 🙂
I did notice you said he bites on the back of the leg. Try not to ever be in a position where he could bite the back of your leg, because if there’s a chance he might attack, you don’t want to encourage this by moving away from him.
I’m so happy to have found your website!
I have my first muscovies; a mother that I purchased with 13 newly hatched ducklings. The babies are now 3+ months old and I’m observing a peculiar social problem. They live together on pasture, and one of the ducks (I think I can tell which ones are drakes now) is being heavily ostracized from the flock, with the mother being the main offender! She pecks constantly at the top and underside of this duck, and all her siblings peck to a lesser extent as she walks by. She is usually off by herself somewhere. What can I do about this? Or just ignore the problem? They do allow her to eat, although furtively.
Thanks so much!
Sorry for the late reply!
Bullying is a very common problem, but I haven’t seen mothers bullying their own ducklings much before. Maybe she sees that one as weak or inferior in some way.
There’s not much you can do about it other than ensuring the ostracized one is able to eat and get away from the others if she wants to, and it sounds like she can. Often, pecking orders morph as time passes. It’s possible they’ll stop picking on her as she grows up. Changing the flock by adding or removing birds can also toss up the pecking order sometimes.
Thank you! Your information is by far, the best out there. Other websites just repeat each other, but your information goes into detail and explains it all clearly. I appreciate your experience and my Pekin drake and I are going to have a meeting of the minds!
You’re welcome! Hope you and your drake are getting along better now!
My duck fought so hard he went into shock! I think this intense (so he can’t get up) holding is not the correct way to teach anything! Not with a very strong personality such as my drake! If I hadn’t let him up I think he would have had permanent damage. As it was his lower bill turned grey and it took 10 – 15 minutes for him to recover enough to stand and another 5 minutes before he walked.
That is interesting. I’m not sure about the bill turning gray, but the rest I have seen when my own drakes fight. The loser will, either as a sign of submission or out of tiredness, stay on the ground for a while after losing, sometimes with his head flat on the ground. Often the winner will sit on top of him and peck him for a while, then leave, and it will still be a while before the loser walks away.
You may have held him down too hard? I’m not sure. It’s possible he was struggling to breathe. You should only use as much pressure as it takes to keep him from jumping up. You shouldn’t literally sit on him or anything. It should not damage or hurt the drake in any way.
I hope he’s all right and is at least behaving well now. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.
It is really no better though he continues to challenge me daily. You say I may have held him down too hard but if I had let up any he would fight (as he always does) to get up. He does it EVERY time. It’s not so much me hurting him, as he hurting himself by fighting so hard. I have never been able to keep him in the hold for more than a couple of continuous minutes, as he either starts to fight (never really lets go and relaxes) or the other muscovy drake comes around and causes issues for which I must respond and then have to use one of my hands for a second or two. As soon as I do the one I’m holding scrambles (at least attempts) to get up again. This muscovy drake doesn’t want me to touch their food, their run, their coop. Whenever I go in to do anything he comes after me and starts to peck hard at my feet and quickly works his way up to my leg (pants and sometimes skin below). Yesterday I dumped water from a basin and was going to refill it (as I do a couple times a day) and he jumped in it while it was tilted above the ground in an attempt to stop me from doing anything with it. It turns out my other drake will use any holding down of the tough guy as an excuse to go after him, not only while I’m holding him down but when I finish for the rest of the day. Pulls his feathers out. This is just not at all pleasant. I am having trouble liking a duck that comes after me whenever I am around. I ask myself why I keep him but at this point it is just for the other drake. I only hav the two. I would get rid of him (rehome, eat…?) and try to get a female adolescent before winter but I do not know where to find one. These are both 4+ month old muscovy and have everything they could possibly want – except for females. They are very healthy and have a great yard, woods and even a brook they have chosen not to swim in…yet! I refuse to fill my yard with ducks in order to have the right male to female ration. People say drakes can get along. For the most part they do except for this issue that results from me as their caretaker.
My one year old runners started attacking the chickens and my dog, so far not me. What does this mean?
A lot of ducks will boss chickens around and chase them. That’s pretty normal, but be sure none of them are trying to mate the chickens. If they are, you should separate them. Drakes can kill chickens if they try to mate them.
As for the dog, I suppose they have realized they can boss him/her around. I’m guessing they will probably keep doing it whenever they see opportunity as long as your dog keeps running away. But I would not recommend letting this behavior continue. If the dog ever tries to retaliate, it could easily kill or severely injure your ducks. Here’s a thread on Backyard Chickens that you might find helpful: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/why-do-my-ducks-harass-our-dog.718927/