Owning ducks is a great way to keep pests down and get large eggs while keeping one of the most entertaining animals.
However, one of the most common behaviors you’ll see from ducks is biting, from a nibble to a full-on clamp.
Both female ducks and male ducks, drakes, will bite for many reasons. This can include being threatened, establishing dominance, and participating in playful behavior. Knowing the difference between an aggressive and a playful bite is important in owning ducks and identifying the behavior.
Keep on reading, and we’ll cover a list of reasons why your duck may be biting and when to be concerned with its behavior.
Biting is a normal part of how ducks communicate with each other and humans.
Ducks May Bite When They Are Scared Or Threatened
If a duck is scared or threatened, this may trigger them to lash out and bite.
If you accidentally startle them from behind or corner them, they might aggressively bite you to defend themselves.
Similarly, ducks will do the same when they feel another member of their flock is threatened.
They will help defend each other through biting, and if one member is in trouble, the rest might come to help.
Being more familiar with people will help to decrease the chance a duck will feel scared and lash out.
This will also make it easier when you need to wrangle them up for any reason.
It will make it easier to collect eggs if they are comfortable with people.
With this in mind, they can still be very defensive over eggs and ducklings.
Related Reading: Ducks biting rats and mice
Ducks Will Bite As A Form Of Dominance
Aggressive ducks, especially dominant drakes, will bite to show dominance over another.
Duck social orders are less of a pecking order like chickens.
However, there are still defined dominant ducks who are more in charge than others.
Aggressive drake behavior might result from an individual believing they are the dominant animal over you and biting to let you know who the boss is.
Drake aggression is a real problem for duck owners and needs to be treated early on.
The best way to stop this behavior is to pin him down for at least five minutes, keeping his body still and pinning his head to the ground.
Doing this will quickly and effectively show them you are the “dominant duck” and prevent further dominance pecks.
You will probably only have to do this a few times for him to get the idea; just make sure to do it as soon as your duck shows any signs of aggression.
The earlier you treat an aggressive animal, the easier it will be to reverse its behavior and not have future issues.
Ducks are overall friendly animals and, most of the time will show affectionate behavior towards their owners.
True aggression is rare and usually lacks communication in a way they understand.
Drakes Will Bite As A Part Of Finding A Mate
If you keep drakes and don’t have female ducks, they may bite you out of interest in you as a potential partner.
Or, if you have females and males together, you have observed very aggressive behavior from the drakes.
Males will nip and bite at first to get the attention of females.
Mating season behaviors seem very aggressive and involve strong grabs and holding, and the female partner will usually be in pretty rough shape by the end of it.
If a drake has no females, he may turn this attention to you.
The easiest way to prevent this is to get at least two females for him, as getting only one will lead to overbreeding and unnecessary stress.
Playful Behavior Includes Biting
Playful behavior for all ducks includes biting, which can also extend to people.
This is often just a little nibble if they are hungry or in a playful mood.
Ducks communicate through quacking, shaking their tails, and biting, and sometimes they will combine them.
Related: Why do ducks quack?
They might shake their tails and nibble your hands to show their excitement to be fed or to let you know they are hungry.
These bites are much different than aggressive bites and are usually led by hissing and an outstretched neck.
Happy bites are much lighter, more like a pinch than anything, and shouldn’t cause pain.
Should You Be Worried About A Duck Bite?
If you get bit by a duck, you’re probably wondering how dangerous it is and what pain and chance of infection to expect.
Bites can range from a quick pinch to a light peck to an intense latch and pull.
Thankfully, ducks don’t have sharp teeth, which helps limit how much damage they can do.
They have serrated-bill-shaped-like hooks and can do damage if you quickly pull your hand out of their mouth.
The duck won’t break the skin for most bites, but for aggressive ones, they might.
The number one risk from a bite is salmonella and the risk of other bacteria infecting the wound.
If you get bit, treat the injury with disinfectant followed by an antibiotic ointment coating and adhesive bandages to cover and protect the wound.
Quick treatment will likely prevent any further issues and save you a trip to the doctor, but if you notice discoloration or pus, it may be time to see the doctor.
Overall, duck bites are not particularly dangerous; most of the time, they are not trying to hurt you, just to communicate something.
They have powerful bills and can do damage in extreme cases, so it is always best to train them not to be aggressive.
This will save you and others from bad bites in the first place.
Most of the time, the little nibbles and pinches they give are just signs of affection towards you and one another and are not dangerous.
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