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What Do Ducks Eat?

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Ducks are pretty common animals.  You can find this type of waterfowl of the family Anatidae in just about any country in areas with a lot of fresh water.  There are a great many different types of duck and many of these don’t include the term ‘duck’ in their name.  The huge number of duck species is often confused.  Other water birds that are not members of the duck family-like loons, divers, grebes, gallinules, and coots are often considered a duck even though they are not.

Ducks include 12 main groups of ducks;  dabbling ducks, diving ducks, eiders, goldeneyes, merganser, perching duck, scoter, sea ducks, stifftails, teals, whistling ducks, and domesticated ducks.

What Do Ducks Eat?

Despite their huge variety of species, ducks mostly follow the same basic diet.  These animals are mostly omnivores which means they will eat both plant and animal matter.  They do however only eat certain types of plants and animal matter.  Here is a quick look at the foods ducks love to eat:


Ducks are semi-aquatic animals.  They can move about on land and survive with just drinking water but ideally, they should have access to a pond or river because many of their foods are found underneath the water.

The average duck needs to drink about 1 liter of water per day.  They need lots of water to stay hydrated and to keep their feathers, bills, and feet in great condition.


Ducks will eat all sorts of grasses.  They prefer soft green grass and won’t eat wilted or dried grass.  Ducks, like geese, can spend hours grazing on green grasses.  They eat all sorts of grasses they find in their natural environment and can also consume lawn grass.

Aquatic plants

Ducks love to dive underwater to feed on aquatic plants.  They will eat the leaves, stems, and roots of aquatic plants like pondweed, southern naiad, wild celery, widgeon grass, coontail, milfoil, and others.  They prefer these plants soft and living.


Ducks will also catch and eat fish while they are swimming about the waters.  They can dive down underwater quickly to catch fish.  Smaller species of duck-like mallards usually focus on small fish species like guppies, graylings, and minnows.  Larger ducks can however catch larger fish such as brown trout and chub.


Ducks are happy to eat just about any insect they can find.  They can eat both land and aquatic insects.  They enjoy insects like worms, slugs, snails, grubs, mosquito larvae, beetles, grasshoppers, and many others.  In countries like China, ducks are often used to combat pest infestations in rice fields.

Small amphibians

Ducks also enjoy eating amphibians like frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, and others.  They will eat both land and water amphibians that are small enough for them to catch and devour.

Seeds and grains

Seeds and grains are a good feed to offer domesticated ducks or ducks you find in the wild.  Wild bird seed mixes are ideal for ducks because they contain a variety of seed types to ensure that your ducks stay nourished.  Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, uncooked rice, boiled rice, oats, nuts, and many other types are very healthy for ducks to eat.

Fruits and vegetables

Ducks can eat fruits and vegetables but in total, your ducks should only consume about 10% of fruits and vegetables.  These water-loving animals will eat all sorts of greens, herbs, and weeds.  They also enjoy eating tomatoes, chopped grapes, berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, corn, peas, beans, cucumber, cabbage, and broccoli.

Diet Variations

Ducks can also eat certain human foods like cooked grains, bread, cookies, and cereal.  These foods are rich in grains and can help keep them healthy.  They also love to feed on dry dog foods like dog kibble.  These foods are perfectly safe to consume in moderation.

How To Feed Ducks

Ducks are pretty easy to feed.  You can simply place food near a water source and they will be happy too much.  You can also cast food into the water since ducks love to dive down to reach their food.  Ideally, you shouldn’t toss so much food into the water to allow it to become soggy.

What Do Ducks Eat In The Wild?

Wild ducks eat all sorts of plant materials and grasses they find growing around the pond and they love to dive down to eat algae and other aquatic plants.  They will also catch small insects and fish they find while they are drifting about the waters.

What do Ducks Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, ducks are often fed on bird seed mixes.  They also receive occasional treats of fruits and vegetables and they need access to a pond so they can catch fish or insects.  Fish and insects are a valuable source of protein that they won’t get if they are restricted to an herbivore diet.

What do Baby Ducks Eat?

Baby ducks are called ducklings.  Wild ducklings will feed on the same basic foods as adult ducks.  Domesticated ducklings are usually fed on starter duck feed, peas, corn green beans, lima beans, cooked carrots, tomatoes, crickets, worms, fish, grass.  Weak ducklings can also be fed on hardboiled eggs and a little bit of milk to boost their energy levels.

How Much Do Ducks Eat?

Ducks do eat quite a lot considering their size.  The bigger the duck, the more they will eat.  An average duck needs about 170 – 200 grams of food per day.  Duck farmers also monitor their food offerings carefully because it can affect their growth rate or egg lying.

How Often Do Ducks Eat?

Some ducks can feed and graze all day.  Ideally, you should offer a pet duck once in the morning and again in the evening.  Allow them to graze for the rest of the day so they can get other nutrients found in insects, fish, and natural plants.

Do Ducks Eat Fish?

Most duck species do eat fish.  Smaller species prefer fish eggs, fry, or small fish species while larger ducks might catch and eat bigger fish.

Do Ducks Eat Bread?

Ducks can digest all types of bread.  But they shouldn’t eat too much bread.  If they are only fed on bread they could start to lack certain nutrients and vitamins required to keep them healthy.  In most cases, it is however perfectly fine to offer some bread to ducks you see on a pond.

Do Ducks Have Teeth?

Ducks do not have teeth.  They have a hard beak that they use to break up food for swallowing.  They also cannot chew their food.  These animals do however often bite.  Male ducks, drakes, are more likely to bite than females.  Their bite isn’t really harmful and usually only results in minor bruising.

Do Ducks Kill Snakes?

Yes, ducks will kill and eat harmless or even venomous snakes that are small enough for them to manage.  Their bills are quite hard and can easily chomp down on tiny snake spines to kill the smaller animal before they swallow the small snake whole.

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