Can You Have a Duck As a Pet [7 Pros and Cons]

cute pet ducks in duck house

Ducks are some of the most impressive birds, and I love their quirky personalities! But – can you have a duck as a pet? What about domestic ducks?

We have a flock of 12 ducks, but I’m not sure I would call them pets. Our Indian Runner Ducks aren’t the friendliest creatures on the farm and are more likely to run away quacking in terror than they are to run into my arms for a cuddle.

That’s not to say ducks don’t make good pets, however. Ducks have tons of personality! They’re also amusing and adorable

Ducks also boast (arguably) the finest of feathers compared to any other flying foul. For sure!

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Look at the Australian woman who takes her duck surfing with her every day – proof that ducks are also one of the most lovable pets!

We also have to tell you about Forky. One of the most impressive pet ducks. Ever!

We love New York resident Zaida Pugh – who takes her duck, Forky, with her wherever she goes! We’ve never seen a more distinguished domesticated duck! (Watch them on YouTube here!)

Read More – The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Raising Pet Ducks!

What Characteristics Make Ducks Great Pets?

adorable pet duck and golden retriever
You may be shocked to learn that some pet ducks are extraordinarily friendly. Some ducks even prefer getting to know all members of your family. Golden retrievers included!

When people ask me – can you have a duck as a pet – I always remind them that all ducks are different.

Some ducks are more domesticated than others. However, most ducks share a few traits that make them excellent homestead companions – and yes, even pets.

Ducks are entertaining, curious, and highly intelligent – and emotional creatures. If handled correctly and consistently from an early age, they can understand commands and play games, just like dogs. 

As with dog breeds, some breeds of duck are friendlier and calmer than others. Indian Runner Ducks are, theoretically, one of the affectionate breeds, but ours are so skittish, I couldn’t imagine snuggling up with one.

The Muscovy ducks we had previously were much calmer and happy to approach humans if there was a tasty treat on offer. White Pekin ducks are also (usually) friendly and cheerful, while the Call duck is one of the most approachable

Ducks are endlessly entertaining to watch, and there’s little cuter than a clutch of fluffy baby ducklings. Unfortunately, ducklings don’t stay small and fleecy for long – they grow shockingly fast!

Within just a few weeks, there will be no sign of that baby fluff on your mallard duckling who has suddenly transformed into an adult duck. 

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Read More – Chickens or Ducks? Should You Raise Chickens or Ducks on the Homestead?

How to Take Proper Care of Domesticated Ducks

pet ducklings and baby chickens soak up the sun
Ducks love to have fun in the water! But, they also adore resting and relaxing somewhere warm and dry at the end of the day. Make sure your pet ducks have somewhere peaceful and quiet so they can relax!

Ducks may mature quickly! But, when it comes to potty training, things are liable to get a little messy regardless of their age.

Unlike dogs and cats, ducks don’t have the physical anatomy required to hold in poop. In other words – they don’t wait to reach a litter tray or the outdoor world!

Ducks don’t have traditional sphincter muscles and are therefore incapable of controlling when, or where, they poop.

The result? Poop everywhere!

Put out a bowl of clean water and, five minutes later, your domestic ducks will have transformed it into a bowl of muddy sludge. Leave them in an enclosure for the afternoon, and it’ll look like armageddon by the time you return!

Duck Eggs

Of course, poop isn’t the only thing that comes out of the back end of an adult duck! Depending on the breed, duck hens could provide you with a seemingly endless supply of delicious duck eggs.

However, your results may vary. Our Runner ducks aren’t the most prolific layers – even though they have reputations as fertile producers. I guess no one ever told them that they’re supposed to lay up to 150 eggs per year!

If your ducks are laying regularly, you could end up with an excess, especially if you’re not that keen on the rich creaminess of the duck egg. If that’s the case, you might find that a drake is a better option for a pet duck.

Drakes are generally friendlier than duck hens and won’t drop eggs all over the place. 

Keeping Your Pet Duck Indoors

Even if you manage to potty train your duck, keeping it indoors is far from ideal.

Although a baby duckling will imprint on a human and dedicate the rest of their lives to following in that human’s footsteps, they prefer feeling the wind ruffling their feathers rather than air-conditioning. 

Even if your duck is living with you for some of the days, they still need an outdoor environment so they can stretch, swim, and splash. Try a duck house about the same size as a standard dog kennel for a small flock of three or four ducks.

Read More – Duck Teeth! How Ducks Use Their Bills to Eat Bugs, Slugs, and More!

Social Nature of Ducks

flock of pet ducklings on the grass
Baby ducks are adorably social creatures. We’ve noticed that some baby ducks quack to anyone who will listen – dogs, cats, and other baby ducks included! And they have so many ducky things to say!

You may have entertained fantasies about owning a single duck that’s devoted to you, but this isn’t fair on the duck.

Domesticated ducks are social animals that don’t enjoy a solitary existence so, the minimum number of ducks anyone should own is two!

Although, the story of Zaida Pugh and Forky proves that a human-duck bond can make up for the absence of other ducks in some instances.

Duck Pond – or Duck Pool!

pet ducks splashing in the pool
Make sure that your pet ducks have easy access to water! Ducks love to dive and dip along with their feathery friends. Adding a small pet pool to your backyard works wonders – your ducks will rejoice!

Ducks are also water-loving creatures and will take to any water source like, well, a duck to water.

While ducks don’t necessarily need a large body of water to swim in, they do need freshwater that’s deep enough to stick their whole heads into – but make no mistake – the more water, the better!

A duck should never be left without clean water to bathe in and drink for more than eight hours, and even this length of time could negatively impact their health. 

Duck Food and Duck Treats!

In addition to water, ducks also need access to food. Although feeding ducks bread has always been a popular pastime for humans, this isn’t their primary source of nutrition.

Wild ducks never pop down to the supermarket for a loaf of bread, preferring to forage for insects, worms, snails, and frogs and serving them with a side salad of pondweed, seeds, and grasses.

There are commercial feeds for ducks that provide all their nutritional needs. You can also supplement their diet with fresh greens, like lettuce and spinach, weeds from your vegetable patch, oats, and rice. 

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Read More – It’s Been Ages! When Will My Ducks Start Laying Eggs?

Don’t Duck Out of These Important Duck-Related Questions!

We can’t stop thinking about keeping ducks as pets! We also know that many of our friends have questions about how to raise ducks properly.

These duck-raising FAQs should help!

Are Ducks Good Indoor Pets?

No! Not for the inside of your home. Ducks need access to a clean, dry area so they can relax and preen their feathers – but we don’t recommend keeping ducks inside of your primary residence.

Ducks are messy creatures who, because they lack normal sphincter muscles, have no control over their poop. As a result, they’ll go whenever and wherever they get the urge.

Duck diapers can help control the mess, but they won’t do anything to make your duck happier with an indoor existence. 

Also – if you decide to keep them in your house (which we recommend against), make sure they get a few hours outside every day to forage and explore!

Do Pet Ducks Like to Be Petted?

pet duck in hands
You may also find that some ducks love human interaction – and others love to have their feathers stroked. But, some ducks are shyer than others and prefer keeping a distance. No doubt!

Maybe. It depends on the duck!

Some domesticated ducks seem to enjoy being stroked and cuddled, whereas others merely tolerate it. Many will enjoy a gentle scratch or rub under their lower mandible, while others prefer back and neck massages.

I think it depends on the relationship you have with your ducks – and the personality of the duck. Some are more approachable than others.

Also – some ducks are much shyer than others and prefer to keep a safe distance. Respect their wishes – regardless of the duck’s personality.

Do Pet Ducks Poop Everywhere?

Yes! Ducks are messy (yet adorable) creatures.

Even domesticated ducks will poop everywhere because they lack the physical anatomy to control it.

Some pet duck owners get around this problem by using duck diapers that way – they can keep their ducks inside the house at night without worrying about them making a mess.

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Do Pet Ducks Cuddle?

Ducks that have been well-socialized and have imprinted on humans are often keen for a cuddle. Some may even climb into your arms for a quick snooze or snuggle up to you, looking for affection.

Ducks are intelligent and social animals, so it is possible to train them to cuddle or even give you a loving kiss on the cheek.

Can You Potty Train a Duck?

It’s virtually impossible to potty train a duck as they can’t control their need to poop in the same way as a cat or dog can!

Ducks aren’t apt to indoor life – and if you decide you want to share your house with them, you should either invest in some duck diapers or prepare yourself for some serious messiness!

It’s possible to create a commercial house for your domestic ducks – but doing so runs a lot of cash – even for wealthy industrial duck farmers.

Do Pet Ducks Need a Pond?

While ducks can survive without access to swimming water, they can’t survive without water altogether. They need fresh drinking water and somewhere to clean themselves.

A water container is perfectly adequate, provided it’s deep enough that the duck can get its whole head underwater and give itself a full body wash. 

But – if you want happy, healthy ducks, then they need full access to a body of water big enough for them to dip, dive, splash and swim unfettered. 

Let your ducks run (and swim) wild!

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Here’s Why We Love Ducks as Pets – and for Cuddles!

So – can you have a duck as a pet? The answer is an astounding yes!

Ducks make excellent pets, as long as you don’t expect them to become the consummate lap dog and spend their days lounging about on the sofa. 

Ducks are surprisingly curious and social animals and need a suitable environment in which to thrive. Their unique nature means providing them with other ducks for company and plenty of water for drinking, bathing, and occasionally swimming. 

Indoor ducks won’t be happy, and nor will you if you spend your entire day cleaning up after them, so make sure you have a suitable outdoor environment for ducks before selecting your next best friend.

With proper care and attention, ducks make entertaining and affectionate pets that require a lot less training than a dog, less servility than a cat, and less food than a horse! What more could you want?

Read More – What to Feed Baby Ducks? Here’s the Best Food for Baby Ducks!

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