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How Ducks Get Along With Other Species

A duck swimming on a pond cuts through the reflection of a grazing cow.

Updated September 21, 2020

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If you’re caring for ducks with limited space, you may be wondering how they get along with other species of animals. Because individual animals each have their own unique personalities, preferences, and histories of trauma, this resource may not apply universally to all ducks and the other species they interact with, but it should provide a good starting point in regards to how well a duck will get along with other animals.

Ducks And Other Ducks

Typically a duck will cohabitate just fine with other ducks. Ducks prefer to hang out in groups in most cases, and will immediately establish a pecking order to decide who rules the flock. Sometimes certain ducks may be more confrontational and require their own space with a respected friend or two permanently away from more docile ducks. If keeping male ducks with female ducks, you must ensure that they are not attempting to mate too forcefully and have a plan in case you need to establish a separate flock. Flock dynamics often change in the spring, so you may need to make seasonal adjustments to keep your female duck residents safe. Mating-related injuries can severely injure or even kill female ducks. Make sure to monitor ducks frequently to make sure there aren’t any bullies creating difficult or uncomfortable living situations for other residents!

Ducks And Geese

Ducks and geese can get along quite well and typically make excellent companions with one another. Since both are waterfowl, both have many care needs in common. The only thing to consider are individual personalities; more confrontational geese or ganders may require extra care around smaller ducks, and reciprocally, a more confrontational male duck (drake) may be more difficult to keep around female geese. If they absolutely do not get along, more confrontational birds may require their own living space or a safe place for more docile birds to be left alone.

Ducks And Chickens or Turkeys

Although socially, ducks and chickens or turkeys can get along in common living spaces, there are a few things to consider when it comes to keeping them together:

  • Ducklings and both young chickens and turkeys require different food types- chick growth food includes medicine that ducklings can overdose on
  • Ducks require a water source specifically to swim in separate from drinking water- chickens and turkeys can drown in these sources
  • If ducks and chickens or turkeys get into a spat, it can be quite dangerous for the ducks as chickens and turkeys have much sharper beaks!
  • Because they have a penis, male ducks who are inclined towards mating should be closely watched or not kept with female chickens or turkeys. If ducks try to mate with these species, they can cause dangerous prolapse situations.
  • Male turkeys could potentially cause serious injury if they attempt to mate with waterfowl

If you’re keeping ducks and larger birds in a common living space, it’s important to give the ducks a living space to escape to free of the other species, perhaps with a duck-sized entryway, and if you are caring for large breed chickens or turkeys and ducks in the same living space, you must ensure that the large breed birds cannot have access to the other birds’ free choice food.

Ducks And Sanctuary Mammals

Ducks tend to get along just fine with other mammals that you might typically find in a sanctuary environment, including horses, donkeys, cows, goats, sheep, and llamas. They won’t bother each other, the ducks benefit from having a bit of a guardian presence protecting them from predators, and socially ducks don’t mind being around these species. The main concerns to consider with cohabitation are accidental trampling underfoot (especially if the duck has a mobility-affecting disability) and the dangers of letting ducks graze with mammalian residents who have been treated with chemical dewormers or medication, which can be dangerous for ducks to be around or accidentally ingest. It’s also important to ensure that other residents don’t ingest the duck’s droppings, which can cause serious health complications. If you choose to house ducks with mammalian residents, you will need to give special consideration to overnight accommodations.  Ducks must be secured in predator-proof housing overnight, but it may not be advisable for the mammals they are living with to be closed in with them.  You do not want to create a situation where a sleeping duck is injured by a mammal they cannot get away from.  In general, it is safest to give the ducks a safe space to sleep away from their mammalian friends.

Ducks And Donkeys

With ducks and donkeys, how they do together is entirely dependent on the personalities at play. Some donkeys get along quite well with sanctuary birds like ducks. Others, especially those rescued from abusive or neglectful situations, may be more territorial and defensive around all species, including ducks. Some ducks may be too territorial to live with donkeys in some living spaces. Always closely monitor the pasture and make a careful introduction between donkeys and ducks, keeping in mind the possibility that they may need to live separately.

Ducks And Pigs

There have been reports of birds being killed in a sanctuary environment by pigs. These incidents occurred between chickens and younger pigs who were apparently trying to play with the birds, feral pigs sharing space with birds at a sanctuary, as well as (rarely), individual adult domestic pigs with strong territorial impulses. It does not appear that adult domestic pigs are commonly known to intentionally cause bird deaths in sanctuaries, but you should always exercise caution where possible when it comes to protecting resident lives and be mindful of the potential consequences of species cohabitation.

For these reasons, we do not recommend housing birds with pigs, especially feral pigs or piglets.

While non-territorial adult domestic pigs could technically share outdoor space with ducks, provided that all species have their specific needs taken care of (like providing a clean swimming area for the ducks), you must be aware that harm could very well occur in this cohabitation model, even if the residents seem to get along. If you do decide to keep pigs with ducks, you must ensure that there is plenty of space to avoid any situations where a bird (especially a mobility impaired resident) might get caught underfoot from a pig. Pigs are also (quite reasonably) particular eaters who will try not to eat pasture or food that has been defecated on by another animal, including ducks, so if you’re going to keep pigs and ducks together, it would be preferable to find a solution to keeping the pig’s living spaces clean.

Ducks And Dogs

As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to let dogs interact with any animal at a farmed animal sanctuary. As the species in your care are prey animals, there is a high chance that there will be a negative reaction, either from the dog or the resident, and it is never worth risking an animal’s safety when there is any possibility to avoid conflict.

With dogs and ducks, it depends on the individuals of each species. Whereas properly socialized dogs tend not to bother ducks, others may be prone to chase or even try to eat ducks, even after very long periods of mutual respect. More confrontational ducks might chase or attack dogs they’re uncomfortable with. Use your judgement and  if for some reason a dog and duck need to share space, you must closely monitor the situation and provide ample space for both species to get away from one another.

Ducks And Cats

Properly introduced cats and ducks typically don’t bother each other as most ducks are larger than cats. One area of concern, though, are ducklings and much smaller ducks, who could be targeted as a meal by certain cats. Other cats may be more daring and try to attack even confrontational ducks. Reciprocally, a confrontational duck might attack the cat unprompted. As with dogs, closely monitor initial reactions to see if they can safely share space, providing ample space for both to escape one another!

Ducks and Wildlife

Depending on their set-up, sanctuary ducks could be coming into contact with wild animals who also call the sanctuary grounds home. While some species may pose no risk to your duck residents, others could cause serious harm.

Predators Of Ducks

Certain wild animal species are especially dangerous to ducks and will eat them if given the chance. This includes stray dogs, coyotes, wolves, foxes, rats, raccoons, weasels, bobcats, skunks, opossums, snakes, hawks, owls, bears, and snapping turtles. The best defense is a properly secured outdoor living space and predator-proof indoor living space. This includes predator netting (chicken wire will not keep a predator out, only a duck in!), fencing that cannot be dug under, predator-secure latches, and vigilance!

Other Wildlife

Though other species of wildlife may not pose the same type of threat as a predator, there are still a few important things to consider. Wild birds (including wild waterfowl) and rodents can carry and transmit diseases to sanctuary birds, so it’s important to keep their living space generally secured from them and clean of droppings if at all possible. Additionally, rats can kill or cause mortal injury to a duck by chewing on them, especially as they sleep, and can cause significant damage to living spaces, especially if they gain access to electrical wire or insulation. Some wildlife could create breaches in an otherwise secured space by chewing holes in structures or digging under fencing, which could give predators easy access to the flock. Be sure to consider the wildlife in your area when constructing living spaces and be sure to check for breaches regularly. For more information on compassionate wildlife strategies, check out our resource here!


Predator Management For Small Poultry Flocks | Extension

Can Chickens And Ducks Live Together | Countryside Daily (Non-Compassionate Source)

Can Turkeys And Ducks Live Together | Timber Creek Farm (Non-Compassionate Source)

Do Ducks Get Along With Other Pets? | eFowl (Non-Compassionate Source)

Non-Compassionate Source?

If a source includes the (Non-Compassionate Source) tag, it means that we do not endorse that particular source’s views about animals, even if some of their insights are valuable from a care perspective. See a more detailed explanation here.

Updated on August 30, 2021

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