Curious as to what animals are nibbling away at your duck population? The truth is that ducks are a delicious delicacy for many different creatures of all types. Many different types of animals will eat this tasty treat if they have the opportunity.
What kind of animals eat ducks?
The list of animals that eats ducks, ducklings, or duck eggs is long. While these predators don’t differentiate between different types of ducks, they will take advantage of this meal whenever possible. Ducklings are the most vulnerable, of course, but given the chance a hungry predator will pounce on adult ducks as well. Some of the duck-eating culprits include:
- Foxes: Research suggests that foxes will actually seek out duck nests, rather than simply stumbling upon them. They like the eggs, but will pounce on the hen as well.
- Coyotes: Coyotes will eat ducklings, raid nests for eggs, and eat hens when they can. Their size gives them an advantage over other predators. They also scare other predators away. While they are diurnal, they often hunt at night now, to avoid humans.
- Bobcats: At twice the size of most domestic cats, bobcats like to hunt in the twilight ours, as they see well in low light. They can eat an entire duck at one sitting, or carry it away for future dining.
- Skunks: Skunks will raid nests in the early spring when food is scarce. They don’t eat many adult ducks, but will maul them if able. They focus on the eggs, poking a hole in and licking out what is inside. They will eat the occasional duckling.
- Opossum: These omnivorous eaters include duck in their diet. They are very messy eaters, so will leave evidence behind.
- Raccoons: These animals can eat several adult birds a night. They often take the eggs as well. Sometimes they eat only the innards, and leave behind the rest of the bird.
- Weasels: These small hunters are voracious, and hunt day and night year round. They must eat at least four times their body weight daily, so a duck could be the perfect meal.
- Bears: Like opossum, bears are omnivores who will eat duck, but they have to catch them first.
- Badgers: Badgers love duck eggs. They’ll eat adult ducks and ducklings as well, but duck eggs are considered a special treat.
- Cats and Dogs: We like to think our domesticated friends are well-fed and thus not dangerous. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Stray dogs, or domesticated dogs running free, will kill ducks for fun or food. House cats love to catch and kill young birds.
- Snakes: Snakes sneak in and eat either the eggs or young chicks (less than a month old) whole, before slithering out leaving no remnants of their meal.
- Owls: Most owls hunt at night. The great horned owl most commonly preys on ducks, swooping in to either take small birds, or at least fly off with their heads.
- Hawks: These birds use their keen eyesight to hunt for prey during the daytime. The breeds most likely to carry a duck off are the Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Cooper’s hawks.
- Snapping Turtles: While ducks might eat small turtles, large turtles have also been known to kill and eat ducks, including ducklings.
- Bullfrogs: Giant American bullfrogs like to eat baby ducks.
The list of animals that prey on ducks is long. while many of them focus on ducklings or eggs, they will take advantage of an adult bird if possible. It really depends on their size, their hunting techniques, and sometimes their location. While most of these animals kill to eat, there are several that simply like to play with their food. This includes domestic dogs and cats, who many not be hungry but still like the thrill of the chase and the kill.
What eats baby ducks?
Most of the predators already listed will eat baby ducks, simply because they are easier to catch. The larger animals, like wolves, might see them as too small. However, a hungry animal given access will likely eat a baby ducks. Many animals enjoy snacking on duck eggs, which means an immediate loss to the baby duck population.
What eats mallard ducks?
Mallard ducks, with their glossy green heads and white collar around their necks (male) or mottled brown feathers (females and ducklings) are the most common duck found in North America. Mallards in the wild can often live between 5 and 10 years. Other animals are more likely to eat mallard ducks when they are young. This includes foxes, raccoons, snapping turtles, and large fish. Crows, snakes and other predators from our ever-growing list will also dine on mallard duck eggs. Mallard ducks have the ability to spring directly from the water into the air, which probably makes it easier for the adult birds to escape predators.
What eats wood ducks?
Wood ducks can be found in areas which have a mix of water and forest. They nest in the cavity of a tree, often a hole abandoned by a woodpecker. The ducklings are born with feathers, and leave the nest quickly by jumping out of the tree to make their way into the water where they will be raised. There is a high mortality rate among the young, and most wild wood ducks don’t live much more than 4 years. Part of that mortality rate comes, of course, from their natural predators which includes racoons, gray foxes, red foxes, great horned owls, and black rat snakes. Snapping turtles also eat the ducklings.
With this long list of predators, its impossible to protect ducks in the wild from being killed and eaten. Nor should we even try, as it is part of the cycle of a healthy ecosystem. However, if you should happen to decide to raise ducks, or any other kinds of fowl, there are ways to protect them from many of these predators. It starts with understanding the list of dangers and the habits of the predators. Once you know what is killing your ducks, you can take action. In future posts we will discuss some of the approaches for ensuring the safety of your ducks, ducklings, and eggs.