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Norwich Bulletin - 8/15/2010

Pet Ducks

So you think you want some pet ducks? Well, ducks are known t be domestic, social and they certainly are cute. And because of these qualities, They can make good pets and are quite inexpensive to keep. It is better that you et them as babies so they can become well-adjusted to your home environment. This will make them much friendlier and interactive with family and friends.

Ducks need to socialize just like humans, so make sure you get at least two ducks so you donít end up with a lonely ďonly duck.Ē Preplanning is essential in order to have happy, healthy pet ducks. You will need to plan on spending hours with them when they are young and handle them often. The most important thing to remember is that DUCKS are NOT like CHICKENS. So plan everything out in advance very carefully before you bring any ducklings home. You need to have the proper space, food and a place where the ducks can swim. You will need a minimum of space of ten feet per adult duck and you have to have at least two.

You need to have shelter to keep them safe from their predators. Owls, Hawks, Foxes, Snapping Turtles, Coyotes and Dogs are among those predators, so you can see, there are quite a lot of them. You need to protect them day and night. While a large source of water can help protect them during the day, you will have to have some type of secure shelter at night.

It should not be a big surprise that you will need water for your ducks. What you might not know is that water can be deadly to ducklings! You have to use specially designed duck waterers from a farm supply store, or a very shallow dish in the beginning for young, inexperienced ducks. Ducklings tire quickly and need to be able to escape the water source in their cage.

An overturned terracotta flower pot provides that perfect escape if they get to tired. As they get older, if you donít have a pond in your yard, you will need to purchase a kidís plastic wading pool with some sort of means for the ducks to get in and out safely. I have seen the plastic turtle pool be used for ducks which seems to be sensible as it has little steps for the ducks to hop out of the water when they are young. You need to have some type of filter or change the water daily because ducks are particularly susceptible to the things that grow in bad water.

You also need to have the time to take care of ducklings. They need the proper food (NEVER use chicken food as it can actually cause deformities in your ducks). They need constant care just like any infant for the first three to four weeks. You can keep them I a box or a cage and keep it in a warm place. In fact, one part of the cage should have a heat lamp source since motherless ducklings need some way to keep warm.

After they are four weeks old, you can place the box outside so they get used to the weather during the day. Donít give them a big water source at this time because it is too easy for them to catch colds or even drown. The food is a special duck starter food for the first two weeks and then you switch to duck grower and use that until they are about seven weeks old. This food has the proper protein for a growing duck. As they get older, ducks love and need green plants.

They will eat the weeks growing in your yard and they will also enjoy lettuce and spinach. Shopped eggs, cottage cheese and if you are into it, you can fee your ducks worms. And as far as that feeding bread to the ducks goes, bread is like taking your kids to McDonalds. Junk food!

There are several different ducks to choose from. Some are friendlier than others; such as the Pekin Duck which is the white duck you often see in barnyards. They will follow their owners just like dogs and make excellent pets. However Mallard Ducks, are really not domesticated ducks and come under the category of wild ducks.

Keeping our ducks as pets and having a dog, is not the best choice. Dogs can chase and harm your ducks. If there are roaming dogs in the neighborhood, you will need to keep your ducks secure at night.

So now if you are feeling you are ready to take on duck parenthood, take your new found knowledge and use it wisely when choosing ducklings to add to your family.

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