Our pet duck: the story of saving Lily February 11, 2013
Several years ago I got it in my head I needed a pet duck or two. A normal person would discuss this with their significant other and plan how to tackle the new addition to the family. I, however, got sneaky. A friend gave me some fertile eggs and I set them under some broody silkies. The husband didn’t find out about the new arrivals until the day they hatched and were waddling around the coop’s run.
He immediately fell in love with them and built me a pen to house them. So, I believed all was well because now we had expanded into keeping pet ducks. As they grew we were sad to find out both our pekin ducklings were male, so we’d be egg-less. Easy solution, go buy another sexed duckling—a female. It didn’t take me long to find our new pet duck, but she was only two weeks old. No way she could go with the boys, and there was no broody silkie to accept her. Well, this could only mean one thing. I would raise our pet duck. We named her Lily and she lived in our bathtub for four weeks.
She moved out to the yard where we attempted to put our newest pet duck in the pen with the boys. First, she wouldn’t go in the pen, she kicked and fought. While this was going on, slick Christmas and Ivey (our drake boys) made a dash for the door and escaped. They discovered the pond and since then only ever came back to hang out in the garden and get their feed. Apparently, that was the worst pen ever because Lily refused to stay in it either. She made her escape a few weeks later.
Since those early days, we’ve had more than one pet duck come to live with us–we’ve had lots. All lived happily around the pond. Always coming to us to eat, and even better, always coming up to the house to lay their eggs. We’d have to do a little Easter egg hunt each day, but the eggs were mostly around our deck and within our flower beds. Fresh duck eggs from a pet duck are always a treat, but the personality on these ducks let me know they were also wonderful pets just for entertainment. Lily always being the one to spend the most time along side our family in the yard. Fearless as a duck could be… which isn’t saying a lot!
This past summer was a tragedy like we’d never experienced. Our pond had become extremely low, and the protection for the ducks must have been diminished significantly. Coyotes came to the area and wiped out all our ducks except for Lily. Even though she survived, Lily received the most gruesome wounds. I found her one morning in June hiding under a bush, she made no noise until I got almost on top of her safe haven. I really think she only became vocal when she was sure it was me, or I might never have never seen her there.
When I first carried the limp body of our hurt pet duck to the house, I was sure she wouldn’t make it through the day, but I wasn’t giving up unless she let me know she didn’t want me to fight for her. We dressed and cleaned her wounds, as the skin and muscle from her neck was mostly gone. She remained outside in a quarantine pen for the first few days. Later we found taking care of Lily was easiest inside the house. We had to bathe her daily with dawn soap, redress her wounds three times a day, and I had to hold her head up for her as I fed and watered her at least four times a day. Wounds covered her chest and the damage was so bad I wasn’t sure where it ended. We also had her on antibiotics for seven days in case of infection. As she took the food and the water willingly, I was sure she’d eventually get her strength back.
After four weeks, our pet duck was again was eating and drinking on her own. Lily was talking with me nonstop. She could swim and dunk her head under the bath water. My Lily was a survivor!
Four weeks more and we no longer needed to dress her wounds. We moved her outside into a safe and secure pen. She’s now all filled out with fresh white feathers and runs around full of energy. It may still be months before she’s over the whole experience but I have to say, our bond with our pet duck is stronger then ever before.
Do you keep any poultry other than chickens, like we do? Please tell us about it in the comments—which make good pets?