Ducks are considered to be waterfowl and are less aggressive than geese. There are whistling ducks and “other ducks” with the “other ducks” being divided into three groups; diving, dabbling (surface birds), and perching ducks. Most pet ducks (other than the Muscovy which originated from perching ducks) derived from the Mallard duck, which comes from the diving group.
Ducks are noted to being beneficial to their owners not just for providing eggs, but more so for controlling insect pests, such as flies, slugs, ticks, and so forth. Muscovy ducks are probably one of the best to use around the garden for pest control. Other ducks are often kept as ornamental birds, or show birds.
One interesting thing about ducks is that it is the female who is the noisy one; males make a quieter raspy sound, while females quack loudly. Some duck breeds, such as the Call duck, tend to be noisier than others, with Muscovy ducks noted for being the quietest.
As with all types of pets, certain duck breeds are friendlier than others, with Rouen ducks being noted for being calm and Pekin known for being more nervous. Ducks that were hatched in incubators and held at an early age may be imprinted on humans, and thus be a better “pet” than naturally hatched ducklings, but ducks soon learn that you bring them food and can become quite friendly. Hand raised ones can even come to enjoy sitting on a lap or being carried around. Certain breeds are more likely to fly away so most owners do clip their wings or keep them in covered aviaries.
|Four Call Duck, Duckings|
The main thing with ducks is that they long for water to swim in (Muscovy ducks a bit less) and actually require access to clean drinking water at all times, in fact they can get very sick if they are without water for even a few hours. They tend to be messy with their drinking water, often spilling it.
There are commercial duck food rations available for them but if given enough space they will eat vegetation and insects and wont require other food except perhaps through the winter, but feeding them a ration once a day does help keep them tame and friendly.
Obviously ducks are not legal as pets everywhere, in fact most cities won't allow them as pets (even if they do allow chickens). Always check your area's by-laws before getting any unusual animal as a pet. Speak to your veterinarian about health concerns for ducks in your area.
I have only kept Call ducks as pets and we quite enjoyed them. We let them lay eggs and hatch ducklings. We did learn (the hard way) that until they are 3-4 days old, ducklings can get water-logged and can drown. Other than that we had good experiences with the ducks, but they were more work, and messier, than chickens.