Duck Help Please

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Hello there,

I am mom to three 14 month old muscovy ducks. Their (wild) mom was killed May 2011 at an office park in Tampa, Fl the night before they hatched. Someone brought me the eggs and asked me to please hatch them. I figured they would go to a wildlife rehabber when they hatched, and I would be done. I live in Tampa, and so I am not really set up to have ducks. I love them dearly. I have a 6' privacy fence and built a coop for them at night. I have two females Drucilla and Twister (special needs duckie) and Beaker, my boy. (I would never remove a wild animal from its parents, take them from the wild and certainly didn't buy ducks for Easter, . . . but I can't stand by and see animals suffer, and these babies surely would have died.)

I would really appreciate some advice. I am an animal person, and own cats, ferrets, lizards, fish, dogs, (which is why the eggs were brought to me). . . but I have never kept ducks, chickens, . . . and I am at a loss.

Some of my questions and I have many more:
1.) Beaker is aggressive to everyone (although I can handle him -- he is my favorite). Is there anything I can do to reduce his aggression? I know if he lived in a larger flock he would be less aggressive. He is of course more aggressive when the girls are on eggs, and I understand that. Even people he has known since he was born he considers a threat. (But the ducks are good with animals -- birds, cats, squirrels, and I suspect the local racoons and opossums). Is there something I could be doing that could be making him aggressive without me knowing it? I would know what to do if he was a dog. :)

2.) Are there any rescues or people who keep muscovies as pets in Florida? I love these ducks and don't want to give them up, but I do not own this home and may need to move. I know it is illegal to release them since they are an invasive, exotic species (and yes, I know they are everywhere, but I understand the negative impact to the environment). They are also not really suited to being wild, since I have fed them all their lives, and they are not afraid of anything. Currently their wings are clipped, but soon they should molt. I feel responsible for them and to them.

3.) Twister is a special needs duck. Her neck bends to the right and she does not hold her head up. This does not stop her from running, swimming, being full of personality. This happened when she was 5 days old, but I do not know what happened. I thought it would self-correct. It has not. It is not broken. I can move it in all directions and she can fully preen herself. Any ideas?

4.) I feed them flockraiser, bird seed, romaine lettuce and meal worms. I also flip my compost heap and let them catch bugs and worms. Anything else I should be feeding them? (They will not change food -- tried them on layer food to increase calcium -- they refused to eat and will not change brands.) They also catch bugs and various critters in the yard. I bought a bag of crushed oyster shell to put in their food. Is that recommended? (I am sorry I am so ignorant about these critters. I have done a lot of reading and talking to people at feed stores).

5.) Because I can not have ducklings, I shake newly laid eggs or give them to neighbors to eat. Is it better for Drucilla and Twister to sit on the eggs or have the eggs removed? I mean mentally, physically, emotionally. . . .

Any help would be greatly appreciated, especially advice on homing these guys. I would like them within two hours of me so I could visit, but I would be willing to drive a few hundred miles to give them a good home. I have done research on this and have not found found a perfect fit. I do have two possible alternatives if push comes to shove. Thank you.

Thumbnail by starsplitter7
Richmond, TX

It sounds to me as if you are doing a great job with your ducks. The feed you are providing is certainly adequate. The females are probably better off having their eggs removed. Broodies are very dedicated and scarcely leave the nests to eat - therefore tend to lose weight for the three or four weeks that they set. Male ducks are often pretty obnoxious; I have never been able to reform any of the few that I have had. Although one male became a real pet after I gave away him and his horny friends. I can't help you with the re-homing, I'm afraid. Perhaps someone nearer to you will have a suggestion. I was able to give my rescued Muscovies to a friend with a fenced in pond. (She didn't believe me when I warned her that they were hoodlums!)

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Hoodlums! What a great word. I adore Beaker, but he is a handfull. Sometimes I think he just wants attention. He bites my shoe once in a while, and I pick him up and carry him around the yard, and he doesn't fuss much. Maybe he's in shock I would dare. I know a rescue who will take them and put them on a private pond with other ducks, but I don't think that would work for Twister. I would like somewhere they can be together, because I know these are communal animals.

My girls are dedicated and they are really resentful when I take their eggs. :( And smart enough to know I did it.

If this was my own house, I wouldn't worry about it. They are great guard "dogs". No one would dare go in the back yard with Beaker. He's mustly bluff. But he's big.

I am glad to hear that the food is okay. I rely a lot on the people in the feed store to send me in the right direction.

Thanks for the info and your time. Tanja.

(Zone 6b)

Tanja, it is obvious you have a very kind heart. Is it legal to have ducks where you are, besides the fact you don't own the house?

It is possible the landlord couldn't care less what you have there as long as you aren't being destructive to the property. My neighbors were doing all kinds of things next door and the people holding the mortgage didn't care at all, as long as they paid each month. She told me that herself, even after seeing how they had torn up the house. Just sayin...

I'm certainly not into breaking the law if I can help it. I had some roosters here in town for about a week. Yes, they were crowing a little. Where I am nobody really cares, but it is illegal to have roosters in town. We can have chickens and ducks and geese I think, but no roosters. So I took them back to the horse lot outside of town. The reason I brought the rooster into town was because of the heat. It had been over 100 degrees for over a week straight, and he wasn't looking so good. Then, about that time, my showgirl hen began to crow too. Which is a real shame, because I love seeing that one in the backyard. What a character, she/he is! Guess he was too young to crow when I bought him, but then he started up too. Maybe hearing the other one crow helped him along a bit. Anyway, I had a good reason to have them here, and sounds like you have good reasons for having those ducks there too.

I hope everything works out for you and the ducks. I'm sure it will, one way or the other.

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Thanks for replying. Hope your rooster does okay. Animals and their health stresses me out. I want them happy and healthy. :)

My landlord brought me the duck eggs, so it is his fault I have them. :) He and I both thought thought they would live with the rehabber as soon as they hatched. We have taken her hundreds of animals over the years including ducks, but these guys aren't considered wild animals. The yard is pretty much devoid of grass, but it had no grass before the ducks. I figure the ducks are fertilizing the sand, so when I try to grow grass, maybe it will be easier. Florida shouldn't have grass. It is too hot, too dry, too wet, depending on the time of year. Luckily I have a huge Oak tree that covers most of the yard and keeps the ducks cool.

Muscovies are almost completely silent, except Beaker hisses at everything -- but it is very quiet. They are no louder than any of the wild birds that live in the trees, and I bet people mistake the girls' chirping for wild birds. They are remarkably quiet animals.

I know that chickens and such are legal (no roosters) in the city limits of Tampa. They don't cause any problems, and I doubt my neighbors know I have them because of the fence. If they were wild, native ducks it would be illegal (but I would have given them to the rehabber and I would have been done). But because they are considered livestock, I am stuck. I would love to buy a house in the country and let them animals live in peace.

I have been looking for a home for them for a year.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

strasplitter7, welcome to the forum!

Wish I lived nearer you, I would take them. We are looking for some ducks or geese. And thank you for taking the eggs/ducklings in. Many folks would not want the extra work and responsibility.

Good luck to you--hope you find someplace cool for them to be ☺!

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

I am calculating the miles to Texas. :) Wonder which hotel would let me bring in three ducks for the night. Haha!

I couldn't let the eggs perish when their mom died protecting them. It was heartbreaking. I wish I had a little house in the country. :) I love these guys.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Starsplitter, have you tried your local humane groups? They sometimes help with "farm" animals.
I belong to a list which focuses on pet ducks, if you like, I'll post your story to them and see if anyone can help. I'd need an email to give them, or I can use mine, but I'll be away from home until August, and not reliably available computer-wise.

this is the group;

You could always join :). They are very opinionated when it comes to duck care, and I rarely comment, but they do have some incredibly knowledgable people, and they network to save ducks....


Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Hello there,

I am so happy an organization like that exists. I contacted a duck group in SC but they were full.

But I have contacted so many groups it is a blur. My local ones are on duck overload because the muscovies are not appreciated. I would very much appreciate it if you could talk to people in your group for me. Maybe because you are part of the network, it would be easier to find help for my ducks.

If I ever got stable housing I would even take my ducks back.

I would like to find someone who loves muscovy ducks, keeps them as pets and dotes on them. I know there are people like that, but everyone I have contacted is at their duck threshhold. And mine are plain brown muscovies. The girls have white heads and beaker has a pretty red mask. You can see that Beaker is pretty plain in his protrait above but he has personality! Twister and Drucilla are lovely. Twister does require a bit of spcial care because of her injury. She doesn't compete very well, and she is the bottom duck on the totem pole,

(Zone 6b)

Yes, sounds like you need to find a new house for yourself. You are quite attached to these ducks.

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