One of end of the year projects that our son’s class had this year was to hatch out a few duck eggs. Apparently, a total of three ducklings hatched out – one with a lot of difficulty, and his teacher helped that one out of the shell. One of the ducklings went home with another teacher, and the other two, including the one who had trouble hatching on its own, came to us. Unfortunately, that little duckling did not make it. She was half the size of the the other hatchlings at two weeks of age and was sickly. She passed shortly after we brought her home, and it was quite sad for all of us, but especially for her very protective sibling, who was quite distressed about suddenly being alone.
We knew we couldn’t immediately place this young duckling out with our adult flock – they would not accept it as one of their own and it would face lots of aggression, perhaps even to the point of becoming fatal to her while she is still so small. So for the time being, we set her up in a clear plastic tote in our son’s room, until she has grown sufficiently to join the flock. She continued to be distraught, and was chattering in an anxious manner almost constantly. George had the idea to bring her out and put her tote house next to our dog’s kennel. Mostly, it was curiosity to see how they’d respond to one another. We’ve been pleasantly surprised.
The duckling is content so long as our dog Lando is in her sight. When he goes out to the bathroom, or even walks out of her view within the house, her anxiety is both audible and visible until he returns, at which point she calms back down. They watch each other in their respective houses, and when Lando is out and about, he visits her often, sniffing and grooming her, and she nibbles at his nose and mouth, jabbering gleefully at him. It’s really quite endearing. Yesterday, I caught Lando bouncing back and forth in front of the tote in play stance, and the duck was a bit ruffled. I found that he had dropped his Kong toy in there with her and was then excitedly hoping she’d throw it back to him. Ha! Adorable. I wish I had been able to capture that on video.
Of course, all of this leaves us a bit distraught ourselves as we consider how quickly she’s going to grow and require larger housing – and frankly, duck poop stinks really badly. Even though I am cleaning her tote out at least once a day, she dirties it up very quickly. With everything else I have going on here, I simply do not have time to take a duck out for potty breaks – I already have a puppy who is not fully housetrained. And there are diaper harnesses for ducks, but I’m not sure that I’d want to have a duck in the house for the rest of this little quacker’s life. So hopefully by the time she’s that big, we can introduce her to the big flock and she’ll find friends there – and Lando can come to visit her outside.
In the meantime, we are just enjoying watching their cute interactions, and thought you’d enjoy a peek at those as well. It wasn’t easy to get these photos – Lando was quite reluctant to get caught “on film” – but here you go. As with all photos on our website, please click to enlarge and view as a slideshow.