Do Ducks Abandon Their Babies? A Full Guide!

I have a duck that was laying on several eggs. It stayed a committed period until her eggs hatched and gave us very beautiful ducklings. But the amazing thing for me is that it left its ducklings and joined the herd and didn’t come back to them again.

This was very strange to me, since I intended to provide it and its Ducklings with a suitable atmosphere so that it could take care of its ducklings, as I used to do with my mother hen.

Chickens graze their chicks and do not leave them easily. So what should I do? Can the ducks return to their ducklings, or should I take care of them and ignore their mother?

The maternal instinct in ducks differs from that of chicks, as sometimes ducks may not be good mothers. Let’s learn more in the coming lines about the mother duck’s relationship with her young, and learn more about the reasons why ducks leave their ducklings and what must be done to save the ducklings.

Do Ducks Abandon Their Babies?

Duck And Their Babies

Yes, ducks often abandon their babies. Ducks get scared easily and will often leave their ducklings if they feel insecure. Ducks instinctively want to protect their eggs and ducklings and want to make sure they are safe from the threats of predators, but if the duck feels that its nest is not safe, it abandons its eggs and ducklings.

Also, ducks leave their ducklings if they are exposed to any disturbance, whether it is a loud noise from their breeders or other birds. Where the mother flies away from her ducklings and will not return until she thinks it is safe and can leave and never return if a long time has passed and she does not feel safe near her ducklings.

Sometimes it may not be related to these reasons, as a duck may leave her ducklings without any challenges and leave them without protection Without a reason. It may even happen that some mothers attack their ducklings!

It is not understood to a large extent, but this is what is happening. The departure of ducks for ducklings is a common feature in both wild and domesticated ducks.

If the duck leaves her ducklings, they will be orphaned and alone in facing the perilous challenges alone without a mother guiding them, as they may perish if they do not receive proper care.

What Do You Do With Baby Ducks Without Their Mother?

Here are 6 tips that will help you take good care of your ducklings:

1. Try To Return Their Mother

First, you should try to return the mother duck to her ducklings, as this will be ideal for them, especially in their early days, to avoid transporting them and exposing them to cold and shock.

If you’ve seen the mother duck with them recently, wait half an hour to an hour to see if she comes back or not. Watch the ducklings well, they can be watered with a little water that you put in a lid or any shallow container so that they do not submerge in the water.

Give them a handful of duck starter feed, then leave immediately. So that the mother duck is not afraid of you and leaves away if she sees you next to her ducks. Give her the opportunity and create a safe environment for her to accept her young.

2. Move Them To A Safe Place

If there is no hope for the return of the mother duck, you should not risk the life of the ducklings any more than this, as every minute that passes on their own without warming and guiding them represents a great danger to their lives.

Therefore, you must move them to a safe, warm shelter prepared for them and the nature of their weak little body.

Place the ducklings in a cardboard box with an old towel on the bottom. This will make transportation comfortable and safe for them. Having a towel at the bottom of the box is essential as it will help contain the mess and wetness that results from duck poop, ducklings poop more than you can imagine.

3. Comfortable And Safe Mattress

Ducklings need a comfortable home that can be quite simple to set up. You can use a cardboard box, a rubber tote, or something comfortable for the ducklings.[1]

Ducklings poop a lot and love to play in their own water and wet droppings! Therefore, a comfortable and absorbent mattress must be provided so that they do not soak in moisture, which exposes them to death as a result of hypothermia.

At least 1-2 inches of bedding should be provided. Straw, leaves, or dry grass will make a good absorbent layer of bedding that will keep the ducklings dry. You can use paper towels as well if necessary if there is more moisture.

Ducklings should be housed in a safe area away from predators. Be careful of cats as well, as a cat can eat your entire flock of ducklings if it can get to it.

4. The Warmth Of The Ducklings

Warming ducklings is very necessary, especially at the beginning of their life. Therefore, you have to prepare a warm place for them as much as possible, especially in the cold months, as warmth is an absolute necessity in cold weather, otherwise, the ducklings will perish.

Do not put the ducklings in a wide place, but it must be suitable for their number, as their presence near each other will help to warm them up. You can use a heat lamp to give off heat and warmth, especially at night. You must install the heat lamp well so that it does not pose a fire hazard.

If you are in warm months like June, July, and August you can safely put them without a heat lamp.

5. Give Them The Right Food

Ducklings consume more feed than chickens, so they should not be given any processed chicken feed. But it is preferable to give them any untreated feed so as not to overdose on processed feed.

If it is available to you, you can feed them some green clover and lettuce, as they will love it very much. The ducks generally love leafy greens. You have to chop the alfalfa or lettuce into very small pieces so that the ducklings can eat it easily.

6. Provide Them With A Source Of Water

Ducklings Swimming At The Water

Ducklings need an abundant source of freshwater. They go through much more water per day than chickens. But this must be done very carefully.

Ducklings isolated from their mother drown easily because they do not produce a natural oil that prevents them from saturation with water and allows them to swim in the water.

Ducklings who stay with their mother get some of their mother’s oils through physical contact with her, which allows them to take a short swim. You should put the water in a very shallow bowl so it can’t sink into it.

Ducklings may drown by drowning in 3-5 inches of water as it becomes waterlogged. You will have to take care of them for at least 6 weeks, as ducks usually grow to full size in 8-12 weeks. So you can safely reintroduce them to the flock after about 6 weeks.


Do Ducks Leave Their Babies Unattended?

Yes, ducks can leave their young, although they may seek to protect and nurture them. But the maternal instinct is not understood in ducks and cannot be relied upon to ensure the care of ducklings as chickens do with their young. But you must take care of the ducklings yourself if abandoned by their mother.

Do Mother Ducks Come Back For Their Babies?

Yes, the mother duck can return to her ducklings if she has left them because she was exposed to fear or emergency inconvenience. She will wait until the weather becomes calm around her young to return to them again. The mother duck can return within an hour to her young, and if she does not return during this period, perhaps not she intends not to come back again.

How Do You Reunite A Duckling With Its Mother?

1- Remove the source of danger:
If there is any source of intimidation or disturbance near her young, you must remove it immediately to encourage the mother ducks to return to their young.

2- Put her favorite food:
You can also put a favorite food for your duck, such as alfalfa or lettuce, near her young, so that this serves as a temptation for her to advance on her young.

3- Stay away from her young:
Do not stay near her young, you must watch them from afar, as the mother duck will not advance on her young as long as she sees you near them. She remains to wait until there is no source of threat or disturbance to her to go to their babies.

Can A Duckling Survive Without Its Mother?

Yes if he receives proper care of warmth, food, water, and protection from predators. But if left alone in the face of the surrounding environment without protection, it cannot survive more than a day or two and is likely to perish as a result of the cold and drowning in the water.

Ducklings will accept any source of water he finds as a result of their innate desire to swim in the water. But his body is not able to bear the cold water at this early age due to the lack of oils that isolate his body from the water, as in adult ducks, which leads to saturation of his body with water and cold and drowning within a short time.

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Doaa Salah
The shy one (too shy to put her photo) and the only girl in our team! Doaa is a veterinarian who is passionate about writing content. She knows a lot about animals and birds, as she has been studying them for many years now. Her goal? She is researching and learning to convey to you all the knowledge she have and what's new about farming.