What DO DUCKS EAT? Discover their FOOD!

Alimentation des canards sauvages et domestiques

We usually associate ducks with the domestic species, that is, the typical duck with white plumage, orange beak and legs. However, ducks include many wildlife species that are distributed in different environments around the world and share one common characteristic: they all have adaptations that allow them to live on water. However, they have different diets.

This is why, at ProjetÉcolo, we explain to you what do wild ducks and domestic ducks eatas well as what small ducks or ducklings. If you want to know more about this subject, continue reading your article.

What do wild and domestic ducks eat?

In general, the adult wild ducks eat :

  • Fishes
  • Crustaceans
  • Worms
  • Insects
  • Plant
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables.

As to wild ducklingsthey mainly feed on:

  • Larvae
  • Worms
  • cooked vegetables
  • Small seeds.

The domestic ducks can have a diet based on:

  • Cereals and vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Foods of animal origin
  • Commercial duck food.

We invite you to continue reading your article to discover the particularity of the duck’s diet according to its species and its living environment.

Diet of wild ducks according to species

There are different species of ducks and each of them has a specific diet. First of all, let’s understand that the diet depends on the environment in which they live. Thus, a duck living in the cold rivers of the Andes in South America will not eat the same thing as those living in the plains of China and Japan. Diet also varies depending on the food supply at a given time of year, as an individual will not eat the same in hot weather as in cold weather.

So what do ducks eat in the wild? Ducks are omnivorous birds and can feed both on land and in water. Generally, they eat a variety of plant and animal foods, such as molluscs, larvae, worms, insects, and small amphibians and fish. Now let’s see what some known species of ducks feed on:

  • Some species of ducks, such as fish-eating ducks of the genus Mergus, feed mainly on Pisces and dive into large bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
  • Other species such as the Debdrocygne widower (Dendrocygna viduata)feed on seeds when in the wild, as they are a source of many calories, although they have also been found to eat aquatic plants, small molluscs, worms and insects.
  • the mandarin duckwith its brightly colored plumage, feeds on plants and seedsespecially common beech (Fagus sylvatica)at dusk.
  • The Merganette torrents (Merganetta armata) lives up to 4,500 meters above sea level and feeds on fish and shellfish diving in very rough waters.
  • The spotted teal (Anas flavirostris)endemic to South America, feeds on vegetables and small invertebrates.

What do wild ducklings eat

So far we have described the diet of adult ducks, but what do ducklings eat? Wild ducklings, unlike adults, are unable to eat large foods during their first months of life, which leads them to consume small foods such as larvae, worms, cooked vegetables and small seeds.

In this other article, you can learn more about animals that are omnivores.

Diet of wild and domestic ducks - Diet of wild ducks according to species

What do domestic ducks eat?

Domestic ducks, being pets, are primarily fed by humans and it is very important that the diet they acquire is as nutritious and balanced as possible to maintain their health. Since they are omnivores, we need to offer them a wide variety of foods.

Unlike other birds, ducks do not have a distinct crop and their large intestine is short, which means that digestion is rapid and food undergoes little change before being attacked by enzymes and microbial flora. For these reasons, it is advisable to provide them with rations that contain all the necessary nutrients.

here is a list of foods domestic ducks can eat :

  • Cereals and legumes : cereals such as corn, wheat, barley, millet and oats, beans, broad beans, provide carbohydrates and proteins in the diet and are rich in B vitamins.
  • Vegetables : Fresh foods such as vegetables are an important source of vitamins. We can therefore give them fresh sprouts, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, beets.
  • Fruits : such as apples, pears, grapes, peaches, bananas, which are high in sugars.
  • Foods of animal origin : fish (preferably boneless), crustaceans, woodlice, crickets, worms, snails and slugs.
  • Egg shell : because it provides proteins and calcium.
  • Commercial duck food : you can feed them with food prepared for ducks, but be sure to give them the specific food for domestic ducks, and not the food intended to fatten the animal.

It is always best for the growth and development of ducks to feed them natural food.

Why shouldn’t ducks be given bread?

A question that always comes up is whether ducks eat bread. The answer is no. In fact, people have acquired over the years a very bad habit: feeding wild animals and giving bad food to pets. Even if we think it’s a good thing to feed them, it’s still better not to, especially if we don’t really know their dietary needs, i.e. what’s good for them and which is not.

Bread, for example, is a extremely harmful food because it contains high levels of carbohydrates, causing the duck to grow too fat or have difficulty flying. Please do not feed these animals when you meet them..

If you liked to know what wild and domestic ducks eat and you like birds, we advise you to read these other articles from ProjetÉcolo on Golden Oriole: characteristics, habitats, food, and also water birds: characteristics, types, names.

If you want to read more articles like Feeding wild and domestic duckswe recommend you to consult the category Unusual facts about animals.


  • EBird. Available at: https://ebird.org/explore
  • Santisteban Capurro, ME (2017). “Efecto del uso de Lisofosfolípidos sobre la ganancia de peso en la etapa de engorde de patos Muscovy” (Cairina moschata domestica L.)


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