A Quacking Good Time: 8 questions you've always wanted to ask a duck owner

By Regina Wang

Cover Art by Jelena Xu

Have you ever seen ducks swimming contentedly in a park pond and wondered to yourself whether you can keep them? Well, I’m a pet duck owner because I think ducks are the perfect fit for me. For the love of exotic animals, me and my boyfriend at the time drove two hours to the farms in the morning of a sizzling summer day to pick up these pet ducks. Here are some questions you guys might like to ask me.  

QUESTION 1: Why keep ducks as pets when you can have cute dogs and cats? Do they make good pets?

Dogs and cats are way too mainstream! Ducks are really unique pets and they are feathered balls of personality! Each one is different and getting to know them as individuals can be a really fascinating process. Pet ducks have a longer life, and are funnier and charming than most popular backyard pets. I think ducks are so cute and it’s just too hard to resist their adorable waddles and iconic quacks so I reckon nearly anyone who has ever owned a duck would agree with me that they are well worth the investment. Having a few ducks in the backyard is also a great method of controlling slugs, snails and insects. Despite the mess they make in your garden which I will talk about in another question, I actually think ducks make pretty good pets especially because they lay eggs that work in my breakfast recipes. I love cooking salted duck eggs, making duck egg sponge cakes and brownies! Here are just a few delicious recipes that I follow!

Duck Eggs

Salted Duck Eggs

Duck Egg Sponge Cake

QUESTION 2: What is the most memorable thing about having ducks?

Well, the most memorable thing about having pet ducks is definitely seeing them paddle with their cute little webbed feet in the water. My family and I live in a townhouse in Sydney's Inner West, and we didn't have a big enough pool or pond for the pet ducks to swim around in. We decided to purchase an inflatable circular kids pool from Kmart and made it into a “mini pond” for our pet ducks. My ducks ‘Roundy’ and ‘Fatty’ are obsessed with diving underwater and dunking their heads in water to search for the treats we give them. Most of the time, they’ll splash water over their backs to wash their feathers and submerge their heads underwater to clean their nostrils. It is so fun to see them make a wet mess of everything they come in contact with.

QUESTION 3: Constant pooping?? Duck poop everywhere?

One of the most incredible things about raising ducks is seeing how much they poop every 5 seconds. Duck poop is more liquid than most kinds of manure, which ensures it can be swept away by the rain or trampled by ducks. I have to clean up after them every single minute of the day because they always make a huge mess if I let them waddle around in the house. Unfortunately, pet ducks can’t be potty trained. I realised after talking to farmers that they are better off socialising outside so these duck poops can actually be used to enrich the soil in your backyard or garden. They said that ducks produce a large amount of manure and, being high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, they are extremely beneficial for growing healthy plants and vegetables.

QUESTION 4: Do pet ducks like cuddles as well? How do they show affection?

A cat will rest in your lap and a dog will curl up beside you and help protect your home. Domestic ducks don't seem to be quite as cuddly as most traditional pets. However certain pet duck breeds, such as ‘call ducks,' love being petted and cuddled by their owners. Pet ducks can socialise with one another, learn tricks, play with toys, recognise their names, and even cuddle if they are taught. When properly cared for, a pet duck can form a strong bond with you and become your best friend. When they're happy, they'll bobble their necks up and down to show affection, and when they're excited, they'll quack loud enough for everyone in the house to hear.

QUESTION 5: How do you deal with good and bad behaviours?

All good pets deserve treats, including pet ducks! The best way that I reward my ducks is by feeding them dry worms brought from the local poultry shop and dig up earthworms for them to munch on. Ducks love treats! Healthy treats that complement their diet are the best option, like leafy green veggies, carrots, mature tomatoes, pumpkin, oats and bananas. Ducks can be very messy pets and my pet ducks love to play in damps and cover themselves in mud so this makes the cleaning process much harder. They also tend to run around their duck kennel before dawn and refuse to go inside. It’s quite difficult to manage these sort of behaviours so my family and I just live with it.

QUESTION 6: What do ducks do for fun?

To pet ducks, playing is almost as equally important as food and water. They all have their own favourite things to do and ways to tell you what they want to do. My duck ‘Roundy’ wandered in my backyard most of the time with her hubby ‘Fatty’. Because ducks are smart animals, they need the companionship of other ducks. Although humans are great friends, only another duck can really understand the duck’s life. Aside from that, pet ducks adore swimming and revolve around water throughout their lives, so the larger the swimming pool in the garden, the better.

QUESTION 7: Do they sleep outdoor or indoor?

Pet ducks need safe shelter, especially at night, to keep predators like possums and foxes at bay. I try to protect them from the cold by placing a piece of cloth or hardware fabric over their duck kennel and cover the “windows” with plastic during winter to keep their sleeping area warm. They sleep outside in the garden most of the time, but on rainy days or extreme-weather days, my family will let them sleep indoors by putting them inside a plastic container with plenty of hay underneath to keep them cozy.

QUESTION 8: Where can you get a pet duck?

I got my pet ducks from Facebook ‘call duck’ discussion page by sending a direct message to one of the farm owners. You can get normal duck breeds like Peking ducklings and Muscovy ducklings in most pet stores in the Sydney region, but if you want to adopt a specific breed of pet duck like me, you will need to contact the local breeder on Facebook or agricultural websites and arrange a time with farmers for pick up.

Best of luck to future duck owners, and happy pet duck sitting!

Author Bio: Regina Wang is a third-year student studying a dual degree in International Studies and Media (Journalism and communication) at UNSW. She likes to create media content and write opinion pieces because she thinks it’s an amazing way to express herself and her ideas. She’s also a lover of naps and she enjoys long romantic walks to the fridge.

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