The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Taking care of ducks has the potential to be a very rewarding experience. You likely know how cute ducks can be when they’re little, and caring for the ducklings will often be the most fun part of the process.
When the ducks get a bit older, you might notice that some of them will change a bit. What were once loving, fun little ducklings might turn into very aggressive ducks.
Male ducks are referred to as drakes and they are typically going to be the aggressive ones. You might notice male ducks attacking the other ducks for whatever reason.
This is certainly troubling, but it isn’t something that you need to be afraid of. You can figure out what’s going on and try to make things a bit better by taking certain steps.
The information below will show you more about why ducks sometimes attack each other. You’ll also learn about some ways that you can try to mitigate this behavior.
1 – Asserting Dominance
You have to remember that your ducks are animals and they have animal instincts. Generally, ducks are going to have a pecking order that they will follow.
There will be a dominant drake in the flock that is known as an alpha. This is usually the most aggressive male duck that asserts its dominance over the other ducks.
Sometimes a dominant male duck will try to attack another duck for the purpose of keeping the pecking order in place. If a duck does something that the alpha duck feels is a challenge, then it’s going to fight that duck.
You might notice the most spats happening between two male ducks. If you have multiple male ducks, then they’ll likely wind up fighting over many things.
Male ducks can fight over lots of different things, but the important thing to know is that this is a natural urge for them. This doesn’t mean that you need to find it acceptable, though.
You can take steps to try to make the ducks get along better, and you’ll learn about that later. For now, you should just know that often ducks attack each other out of a need to try to assert dominance in the flock.
2 – Fighting Over Mates
As you might expect, male ducks are often going to fight each other over potential mates. Many types of animals will fight each other when they’re trying to mate or find mates.
If you see two male ducks attacking each other, then there’s a good chance that they’re fighting over mates. Both ducks have the urge to mate, but they need to establish who the dominant duck is to see who will be allowed to mate.
Is this a weird thing to have to deal with as a duck owner? Certainly, but that’s just something that occurs when you’re dealing with ducks such as this.
Ducks have mating urges and sometimes those urges will bring them into conflict with other ducks. Sadly, these urges can even spill over to their interactions with humans.
The fighting can become a big problem if a male duck is particularly aggressive. Hopefully, the aggression stays within normal limits in the case of your ducks.
3 – Fighting Over Food
A dominant drake isn’t going to want to share food with the other ducks. As an alpha drake, it’s going to start attacking the other ducks to keep them away from the food.
This is likely going to be frustrating to you since you’re just trying to feed all of the ducks. You can make this less problematic if you try to approach things in a different way.
For example, you could choose to feed the ducks individually instead of feeding them in a group. This might take more time, but it will keep the fighting to a minimum in the group.
It’s also good to consider doing this so that all of the ducks will get to eat properly. Sometimes when you have a few aggressive ducks in your flock, it’ll make it hard for the more timid ducks to get enough to eat.
Individual feeding is a good way to protect your mild-mannered ducks so that they can stay healthy. You should try to change the way that you’re feeding the ducks to see if it will make a difference and stop the fighting.
What If Ducks Attack Humans?
Do you remember it being mentioned that sometimes duck aggression will spill over into their interactions with humans? Well, it’s possible that a very aggressive duck might choose to attack you.
Sometimes people wind up caring for male ducks that are way too aggressive. They will wind up attacking humans when they’re trying to feed them or interact with them.
You can protect yourself from the duck easily enough by carrying a broom or a bucket. Keeping the duck away from you should be simple enough, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t an annoyance.
Why would a duck act this way, though? Well, there are several potential reasons why ducks will act this way toward humans.
If a duck isn’t able to mate with female ducks, then it might still have sexual urges. Sometimes the ducks attacking you might be a way for them to act on their mating urges.
This is certainly unacceptable, and that means that you need to assert your own dominance and make the duck back down. Some duck owners choose to hit the ducks, but others will just use body language and a stern voice to make the duck back down.
If the duck is very aggressive, then you could pin the duck to the ground for a while. When the duck stops protesting and acting aggressively you can let it up and it should walk away from you.
Sometimes You Might Need to Separate an Aggressive Drake From the Flock
There might be a situation where you’ll need to separate an aggressive drake from the flock for some time. You don’t want the other ducks getting hurt, after all.
Many duck owners have been able to solve the problem by simulating a fight with the aggressive drake. Basically, you’d keep the drake penned up while the other flock does its thing for a while before putting them somewhere safe.
When you’re ready, you’d let the aggressive drake out and then pin the drake to the ground. You just hold the duck in this position until it doesn’t struggle or attempt to attack any longer.
This might help to solve the aggression problem since the drake will learn its place. If this doesn’t work, then it might be trickier to figure out what to do with your problem duck.
Some People Choose to Cull Overly Aggressive Drakes
It isn’t that unusual for people to choose to get rid of overly aggressive drakes. Sadly, some drakes have incredibly aggressive tendencies that can be hard to control.
If most of the rest of your flock seems to be mild-mannered and easy to control, then the one drake might be the problem. As cruel as it sounds, you could make the decision to cull the problematic drake so that you can move forward peacefully with the other ducks.
Granted, something such as this might not sit well with you. How you wish to proceed will depend on your preferences and sensibilities.
Just know that some people will choose to cull overly aggressive members of the flock. This practice is also somewhat common with overly aggressive roosters.
You might not want to allow an aggressive drake to breed if you do decide to keep it. It wouldn’t be good for its offspring to become part of the flock since those aggressive tendencies can be passed down.
Be Careful When Raising Ducklings
It should also be noted that you need to be careful with how you interact with ducklings. You could be unknowingly encouraging aggressive behavior in ducklings.
For example, some duck owners will spend too much time with one duck. If you raise a loner duck, then it might be less likely to get along well with the flock.
Also, some people will allow a duckling to peck them on the face or lips. You might think that the duckling is giving you kisses or something such as that, but pecking is actually aggressive behavior.
The duckling could be learning to be an alpha drake and you’re encouraging that behavior at that point. Be wary of allowing things such as this since it can make the duck much more aggressive as it gets older.
Now you know a lot more about why some ducks attack each other. Ducks are cute and fun to take care of, but it can be hugely problematic when you have aggression issues in your flock.
An overly aggressive drake can make you want to pull your hair out sometimes. Thankfully, there are ways that you can protect your ducks and limit the amount of fighting that occurs.
Remember to feed your ducks separately to keep ducks from fighting over food. Consider asserting your own dominance to try to stop an aggressive duck from continuing to exhibit poor behavior as well.
Hopefully, this will help you to solve your little problem. If it doesn’t, then you might wish to remove aggressive ducks from your flock. It’s up to you to decide the best course of action now.