Our pet duck: the story of saving Lily February 11, 2013

Our pet duck Lily hanging out with the family

Our pet duck Lily follows the family around on a nice summer afternoon.

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.

Our pet duck Lily, all bandaged up

Our pet duck Lily’s bandages, on the day I found her.

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?

18 Comments
Kris Bowman February 11th, 2013

This is interesting… a very Long Narrow message area ! Any how- I raised a “Lilly” too- only she is a Lavender Orp. hen. Good for your lilly andto you too

Darlene February 11th, 2013

I would like a pet duck but my husband says no, they are dirty. We do have chickens and our one neighbor doesn’t like them. Can one duck survive with chickens? Any suggestions?

I have thought of sneaking one in too but not to sure about that-lol.

shannon February 11th, 2013

Hi Darlene, I probably shouldn’t have been so sneaky. 🙂 But what is done, is done. Do some more research and see if ducks are right for you. I keep mine away from my chickens as they are quite a bit more messy, and their pen is always muddy from their fun time in the water bucket. Also, female ducks are much more vocal then hens. So it’s hard to hide from neighbors if you had one female duck in your backyard. However, the males are quite quiet.

Nessa February 11th, 2013

I really enjoyed reading your story. We are also looking after an injured pet, but our hen’s injuries are no where near as severe as yours. Daily antibiotics down her beak and wound cleaning, but it is all worth it. They’re pets after all is said and done and we are very fond of them.

Michele Moreno February 13th, 2013

I have a female and male pet duck in the same coop as my five hens. We recently had to place cement down in our coop because of all the mud the ducks were making. The cement is easy to clean and stearalize and I always let my pet birds out of the pen to play in the backyard and baby swimming pools all day. My drake has been attacked by dogs twice because he is so aggressive towards my dogs. So lets just say they do not get their freedom until the dogs are put in the house. The drakes feathers have grown back and he is a stunning bird once again. If I could do it all again, I would have never gotten my dogs because they just can’t be trusted with the birds. I find more enjoyment out of my birds because they do not tear up my house or clothes. However my favorite bird is my female duck that has no name.

Jennifer February 13th, 2013

I have 3 pretty white ducks (like the one in the photo) that I got as babies that live happily in my back yard with my chickens. They all seem to know the difference because the chickens hang out with the chickens and the ducks hang out with the ducks. But they all get along. They all go into the same small coop when they see me coming with food. They chicken like to stay in it at night, but the ducks don’t mind the cold and rain and only sometimes stay in. I do have to give fresh drinking water more often because the ducks dirty it up quickly, even though they have a baby pool of their own. My ducks aren’t noisy at all. I don’t know if they are boys or girls, but I haven’t seen any eggs yet. I haven’t noticed that they are particularly messy. Could be because they share the backyard with three goats and a miniature horse!

Jim February 17th, 2013

We had two Peking ducks, Donald and daisy, and about 50 some chickens. Ducks thought they were chickens and wouldnt go in the pond. Ducks are about 4 years old and one night don’t come home with the chickens. Next day Donald shows up with battle wounds, mostly ruffled feathers, and fear in his eyes like you’ve never seen. He sat in the corner for about two weeks, then finally started mingling with chickens again. We have 50 chickens, all hens. Donald had roam of the ranch. In the spring he started showing his dominance. A Peking duck is quite a bit bigger than a chicken, and Donald showed it. He would sneak up in the chicken coop and grab a hen out of the bottom level of the egg laying basket, by their neck, slam them on the ground, hold them down and have his way with them. Now Donald lives a mile away in a 15×15 pen with a pond and a house.

Kim March 9th, 2013

Poor Lilly. ;( Glad you saved her.

Eva Ries June 7th, 2013

Hi,

Very glad to hear your Lily survived and recovered, and sorry to hear the other birds were lost, that’s very sad.

I also have a Lily Duck, a delightful white Pekin who is my little girl. I got her when she was around 7 days old, and imprinted on me as her mama (she turned 4 in March 2013). She follows me around the yard, “helps” me garden (more like waits for me to rack dirt so she can grab worms), and I take her to the lagoon to swim on Sundays. Folks love to snap photos of her swimming in the lagoon with me. Lily lays down on my lap and cuddles with me, and I can pick her up and hug her, too. She’s my cuddly, soft, “swimming parrot” and we just love her so very much!

Chella loves her duck April 7th, 2014

I have a pet duck female mallard! She was a chirping egg when I got her
I didn’t have anything safe to put the egg in so just carried it on me and talked to the egg she always chirped when she heard my voice!i think I had her egg for 2-3 days and she hatch I have video on you tube! I keep her inside with me and my family and jack Russell. She had to be with me 24/7 or she cried! I had to put her in a cat carrier at night next to my bed w my hand inside the carrier touching her so she would sleep and not keep my hubby up all night, she even went to the drive in movies w me and my son on my hubby’s request, he said all she does when I am not home is cry for me!! Lol! It’s been 2 yrs now and she’s the greatest pet I ever had!! She’s my love bug or love duck! She sits on my chest and rest her bill on my neck when I scratch her back and chirps! She has for sure imprinted on me! She’s my only duck and very happy! I don’t work so she gets lots of time w me! People do a double take when we are taking our daily walks! I keep her wings clipped so she can’t fly Hugh and far! I love her so much and of course she loves her mommie!! I am so happy Lilys ok now story made my heart skip a beat!!

Paula December 9th, 2014

I have a rooster who can not hold his head up aftyer a predator attack 5 days ago. He really wants to live, but am I getting false hope he will ever get strength back by keeping him fed by hand and alive or am I spitting into a hiurricane?
Paula

Lissa December 10th, 2014

A veterinarian may be able to help you determine quality of life issues, if you’re not sure–and he or she could also prescribe pain medication if it’s called for, to get through the rough patch. For myself, I like to give a hurt animal every chance, but it’s certainly a personal, and difficult, decision when it comes to pets. I do hope he’ll be okay–he’s lucky to have someone like you to take care of him. Best wishes.

Olga February 18th, 2015

This summer, my son (experimentalist :))picked up some eggs at the farm near where we vacationed and hatched them. We thought we could have chicks adapted, but it was not easy :).
So at the moment we have three hens (that already started laying) and… a duck! The duck is a drake, buff, handsome, he leaves in the house and wears a diaper. My husband is very attached to him (as he it to my husband). However, I feel that the duck needs duck friends as well as a duck sitter so we could leave him with if we need to go away for a week or so. Unfortunately, unlike chickens, he needs attention like a child :).
We live in Massachusetts in the Boston area.
If you have any suggestions or know anyone who might help us, please let us know.
We failed to find a safe place for out duck (his name is Utya – Ducky in Russian)

Shannon February 18th, 2015

Hi Olga, That’s a wonderful story and Utya sounds like an amazingly friendly duck to have. I personally don’t know your area well for any suggestions. But I think Utya may want a ducky friend to spend time with if you guys can’t give him constant attention. Ducks can get very lonely without another duck a person to be constantly there. Good luck!

tj3hop March 1st, 2015

We have a variety of poultry on our happy little home. We of course have our chickens, and then there are our ducks, geese, and peacocks. We used to let them roam our yard but our home became a predator haven and we couldn’t control it anymore, so they have to be caged up, unless I am right with them. ☹ We had one particular summer that ended the free range; we had a flock of Muscovy ducks, my personal favorite, and lost them all in one day. We also had a turkey until a coyote crudely took him; we then realized it was over. Among the coyotes, we have a fox that decided to use our culvert as her foxhole and we still have difficulties with her returning each year. Our neighbor’s dog and cats keep an eye on our place. Of course skunks, and now we believe we have a mink that has found it’s way here. That one is a problem because it got in our coop and took a great deal of our hens! Any suggestions there? I checked your predator section but didn’t find anything on mink. OH and then there was the dreadful owl that took a couple geese from their pen, we now have netting over the whole area and he sits on the edge watching them, but can’t get them anymore. We had no problem for years and then it was like the whole neighborhood discovered our pets and came visiting, it’s caused us great sorrow. It’s sickening!!!!

Joe December 27th, 2016

I have…had two female call ducks as pets. They have a very nice two section pen where they have a heated enclosure for night, and safely enclosed open air section with a wading pool for day. every day we give them time to be free to walk around the fenced in yard. On christmas eve day they were out and unattended for only a short time. I heard some out of the ordinary yelling/quacking from one of the girls. I went out to find that the other was submissively just lying under a very large hawk. I was able to scare the hawk away the and Julia[The victim] jumped up and ran to her pen, followed by her companion Marie. We found only a very small scratch on Julia`s belly that we cleaned with saline solution. Outside of this and the fact that she continued to behave very submissively and she did not want to eat voluntarily, she seemed to be okay and I figured that I stopped the incident early enough to save her. Unfortunately, on Christmas day, about 30 hours later, I found her dead in her bed area with her friend Marie lying right beside her. I am so confused as to why this happened unless it was just the incredible stress or if there were internal injuries from the weight of the hawk standing on top of her very small body. In the mean time, Marie is very upset and I am sure very lonely. Next week I am going to a local farm market where I will be able to buy a couple young female ducks with whom I hope will provide new companionship for our Marie. Does anybody have any ideas, insight, or advise to offer?

Shannon December 29th, 2016

Hi Joe,

I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss. Julia and Marie sound so very special. I’m sad to hear Marie is so lonely now. We had a similar issue and find ducks have a strong bond, so I truly hope she has new family soon.

Hawk attacks are fairly common, and they can be quite brutal in their attacks. I honestly feel that something internal was damaged during the attack more so then what you could see on the surface. It appears she was comforted toward the end though, and without vet care there may not have been anything you could have done.

My condolences…

Shannon

Julie January 3rd, 2017

Just ordered chicks from you yesterday and you couldn’t have been nicer. Glad you told me to check out the blog because I love happy endings. Glad you didn’t give up and she is a healthy girl again. Looking forward to all my new fancy chicks in April. Thanks again for all of your help

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