Mice and rats are those creatures that may look cute, but they can be very harmful to you and your family, including your feathery ones. Farm animals may try to help illuminate them, and some will even eat them. This brings up a couple of great questions; will ducks eat mice? Is it bad for a duck to eat mice or rats?
Many species of ducks in the wild feast on mice regularly since they are one of the duck’s food sources. Ducks on the farm will also eat the mice and rats; for the most part, it is safe. Mice and rats carry disease, but unless in the middle of a large city, that should not become a problem.
Ducks are scavengers, meaning they will eat anything they come across. That is, as long as they can get it down the throat. Ducks swallow their food whole, so a small duck would not try to eat a giant rat. Let’s learn a little more about this to gain a better understanding.
Do Ducks Hunt Mice?
Ducks come in many shapes, sizes, and species. The biggest duck in the world, the male Muscovy Duck, will find a mouse or rat to be a good meal. At least some protein that will help satisfy their never-ending appetite. The smallest duck, the Pygmy African Goose (perching duck), will have difficulty getting a fat rat down.
- Duck breeds such as the Muscovy will not only eat mice and rats, but they will take time out of their days to hunt them down.
- Smaller insects and larvae may be more prevalent, but filling their bellies will take much more.
- Mice will take much less time to satisfy the hunger pains.
When it comes to hunting mice, the Muscovy is the only one that will go out of its way to find them. The other ducks will eat whatever it comes across, including mice, but since they gorge themselves on everything in sight, they do not travel to find the rodents.
For many reasons, common dusks may be a great addition to the farm, but if you expect them to go out and hunt the mice down, you will be very disappointed. If you just want the little rodents to be scared away, they might do the trick because mice know they are vulnerable if they get too close to the ducks’ ever-pecking beaks.
Here’s a video of a duck eating a mouse:
Does Eating Mice Hurt Ducks?
Mice are rodents that may not mean to cause carnage in their wake. They may not even try to make humans and animals sick from the feces or diseases they are prone to carry. Unfortunately, though, they do. This means that mice can hurt ducks in a number of ways.
- Damage duck coops by gnawing and burrowing
- Transport fleas ticks. Lice and mites
- Carry many different deadly diseases
- The urine and feces carry the same diseases as the rodents themselves
Studies worldwide have shown that 5 to 20 percent of mice (source) carry some type of disease. This varies because the location, living conditions, and access to chemical plants can increase or decrease the instance of sickness within mice.
The thing to remember, though, is that wild ducks eat mice and rats all the time, and more often than not, they are perfectly fine. The chance your duck will get sick and pass on is slim.
Unfortunately, it only takes that one sick mouse to cause havoc amongst your ducks, so if you have seen signs of rodents, you will want to take other measures to remove them.
How Do I Keep Mice Out of The Duck Coop?
Two of the most common ways to keep mice and other rodents out of the duck coop are to have some larger ducks that can gulp them down or have a few barn cats deal with the problem. Both of these solutions will work, but they will always have the chance of catching a disease or two from the mice that they ingest.
That is why other measures should also be taken to alleviate the need for the two family pets to be in danger daily.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t have them because they can help scare the mice off in the first place, because not even a mouse will be crazy enough to enter an area known for killing its kind. But let’s look at a few other ways to keep them away (source).
- Keep the coop clean
- Install barriers around the coop with small holed galvanized fencing
- Repair any holes or other small entry points
- Keep the feed enclosed
- Store food in sealed containers
- Plant mint around the coop and yard
- Traps – just make sure they are placed out of reach of the birds
- Build a raised coop
- Botanical rodent killer
You never want to use poisons or traps the ducks could get into. The point is to remove the rodents to keep your ducks safe, so creating another problem for the ducks to deal with is not a good idea.
The mice that get through all your precautions will not survive the beaks of your duck, and since it is only one here and there, the chances of your bird catching a disease is slim to none.
Ducks are known as scavengers, so it is safe to say that they will eat almost anything that comes across their path. In the water or on the land, they are always on the hunt for their next snack to hold them over until dinner.
The grains you feed them will keep them full for the most part, so they should never need to wander off to hunt for bigger meals, such as mice and rats.
The stress of your birds catching a disease from the rodents (source) is a real one that could happen. It is not very likely, but it is a concern that warrants some preventative measures. Remember, before ducks ever became household pets, they lived in the wild and would have considered a mouse to be a feast served to them on a silver platter.
So be cautious, but do not let fear control how you deal with your feathery little friends.